I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently researching what it means to be introverted or extraverted, or both. As usual with anything psychological and to do with the human personality, I find it hard to grok the accepted meanings of the terms and how they mesh with my own observation of myself and those around me. There’s no accepted definition of either that I can make out, at least as far as how they interact with each other. Some argue they exist on a single continuum. Some argue you can clearly be introverted and extraverted at the same time, with one trait usually more dominant than the other.

While researching, I came across the term asociality, which is broadly a word to describe how someone can lack the will to engage with other people, preferring solitary or almost solitary activity with little social interaction. It’s easy for me to self-identify as asocial, despite having a reasonably healthy social group, great relationship with Christine and no huge fears of being in new social settings or large groups.

I find reasonable psychological discomfort at the idea of making new friends, though, and I’ll frequently avoid social interaction and social settings, especially outside of work, in preference to being by myself or with Christine. I’ve felt that way in general since I can remember, despite being personable and pretty outgoing when I eventually find myself in social settings. I can be around people, but I often don’t want to.

After years of reasoning about the above and wondering why I prefer to be by myself, I now don’t find it unhealthy. I’ve long battled depression — it’s now over 20 years since I first started to kind of understand what depression is and that I might be affected — but since becoming much more mentally healthy and happy in the last few years, I haven’t found that feeling asocial has waned. If anything, it’s the opposite, and now I’m happier in my own company than I ever have been.

Being comfortable in your own head and without other people around is something I think most people in similar societal settings to me find difficult, mostly because our societies expect something completely different. It feels like in the last decade, for obvious reasons I guess, that we’re forced into this model of interacting passively with thousands of people online via social networks, which means we prize our own company or very close company with a select few even less than we used to.

Now that I know in myself that introversion and asociality aren’t negative traits in human beings and aren’t closely tied to depression, I’m much happier being outside of all of that expectant societal behaviour, and wonder if tailored asocial networks might even be a thing one day.