Ravenclaw Tendencies, Introversion, and the Power of the Internet
I have identified as a Ravenclaw since the premiere of the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film.
A young thing with perpetually wide eyes and an obsession with crayons, I spent eight months after reading the first Harry Potter book creating crude elementary school drawings of me wearing a Gryffindor scarf (the “good guys”, of course- or so I believed). When I grew up a little bit, and realized that I had all of the awkwardness and anxiety of Neville Longbottom without any of the strength and courage, I decided to set my sights on a different house- and it was with a hesitancy that I placed myself in Slytherin once, Hufflepuff three times, Ravenclaw twice, and Gryffindor again before finally deciding (or realizing) that I really was a Ravenclaw. The dust settled and I went about choosing my costume for the next Harry Potter premiere with a new pride for my house and a fondness for blue and bronze.
Ravenclaws, as they say in all the sorting hat quizzes, are clever, curious individuals with a fascination for almost everything and a tolerance for people different than them. This is all well and good, and I humbly admit that I possess most, if not all, of those traits, but that was never what convinced me that I belonged in the Ravenclaw house. What convinced me, instead, was the trait that, other than brains, seemed to define the Ravenclaw house: Introversion. My tendency to prefer solitude rather than company and the excessive amount of time that I spent inside my head was always something that brought me teasing and bullying, but with my fellow Ravenclaws, I was never judged for it- to Ravenclaws, the word “alone” is never synonymous with the word “lonely”. Knowing that I belonged somewhere, and that I was not thought of as strange or odd, even just through an online fandom, did me a world of good.
Since then, I’ve spent most of my lunch hours alone in the school library. Why shouldn’t I, if that’s where I feel most comfortable? I still have extremely close relationships with my friends and family, but I don’t find it necessary to be surrounded by people all the time- so every day I take an hour long break from the hustle and bustle of our world and dive into a new one through reading. Usually I read fiction, but recently I stumbled upon a nonfiction book that has captured my attention just as much as fantasy- it’s called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The moment I read the title, I knew I was hooked.
In Quiet, Susan Cain discusses various aspects of introversion and how it has been misunderstood and misinterpreted over the years. Quiet is not a story in the typical sense of the word- not the type of story that we at the Imagine Better Blog write about each Wednesday- but rather a sociology/psychology book filled with several stories, all of them true. My favorite ones are in chapter three, titled “When Collaboration Kills Creativity”. In this chapter, Cain talks about how face-to-face collaboration can often be harmful for introverts, potentially squashing creative ideas. Cain relates to us the story of Wikipedia and many other amazing internet sensations. The collaboration of people through the World Wide Web produced a variety of awe-inspiring and world-changing ideas, but Cain argues that bringing this type of collaboration to the workplace and hoping for the same results is fruitless.
The point of this blog is not to convince you to stop working in groups or to spend more time alone. Rather, I wanted to call to your attention the amazing things that people can accomplish together through the internet that they may not be able to achieve in real life. I know for a fact that I would not have applied for a position at the HPA if it was to be a face-to-face job- I would have been far too intimidated and nervous. Instead, I can volunteer from the safety and comfort of my own room, and so can everyone else. People who donate to the campaigns and raise awareness about important issues can do it all by typing and clicking.
Some think that it’s sad or pathetic, the amount of time people spend on the internet each day- but I think it’s incredible. Online fandoms have done so much for me, so much for other people, and so much for the world, and these are all things that may never have been accomplished had they had to be done in person. The internet brings the world together- whether Gryffindors or Hufflepuffs or Ravenclaws or Slytherins, whether introverts or extroverts or everything in between- and that, I think, is something beautiful.