If communication is a revolution, why are we still typing?


Isn’t technology great? We can all now type memos at each other, using QWERTY keyboards invented back in 1874 by Sholes & Glidden, and attach photos, invented in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, or even email presentations with drawings, invented in caves in the Upper Paleolithic era in 40,000 B.C. … um, a pattern is forming.

Why is introverted communication — in which we compose thoughts in silence on email or blogs or Twitter or PowerPoint, and then fire away to recipients when ready — now so popular? Maybe Carl Jung had it right. He suggested that the spectrum of introversion and extroversion is the core dimension of human personality. Studies have found that introverts tend to do better in academics and have more blood flow in the frontal lobes of their brains, the areas for planning and processing (take that, high school football team!). However, studies also show the extroverts are happier, seeming to have more blood flow in the groovier parts of the brain — anterior cingulate gyrus, temporal lobes, and posterior thalamus, yeah baby — that are involved in emotional and sensory delights. Such as putting lampshades on your head at parties.

Here’s what we think. (A) Introverts spend time alone, are drawn to studying and technology, so are likely early adopters of technology toys, but (B) extroversion fills the human need to connect, and we all long to move a little further down the cool-kid-with-keg-in-high-school party train. Typing fills the void, and it’s chased by colorful gadgets. Humans loved memos, then faxes, then email, then blogging, and now Twitter and Facebook, because we can be private and social at the same time. We protect our inner introversion and indulge in extroverted exultation.

All of which explains why your new smartphone has a QWERTY keypad.

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