Edited by Ann O’Phelan
As the years go by, how we communicate is changing at an alarming rate. With the emergence of the Internet, what media critic Marshall McLuhan envisioned as a “global village” only two centuries ago has turned into a reality. The world’s getting increasingly expressive and fully loaded with texted-noises we have to constantly filter, thanks to the rise of the Internet culture that’s dominating our real-time world in this Information Age. Pew Research Center’s studies find not only that the number of Internet users keeps rising since the beginning of the millennium, but also the duration of hours spent on the Internet is even longer.
Accepting technology as a part of higher learning is now inevitable as the workforce now has expectations for employees to possess the knowledge. “An interviewer can ask you basic information of the company, something they expect you to know already after studying their web sites, during a job interview,” said John McCormick, an instructor of Designing Careers at the Academy of Art University. New breeds of tech- savvy generations, especially the Millennials, are using this global network and changing how the world works. Now, the younger generation has to stand up on their own grounds to compete in becoming leaders of their own realities in this social-network era, developing themselves through great communication skills in both face-to-face and on- screen. Taking all outspoken voices aside, those less extroverted youngsters can function well working within the business world, especially by marketing their own ideas, if they are provided the training to do so. They possess the competitive advantage of being better listeners than extraverts to effectively lead this texted-noisy landscape we are living in.
Social-networking feeds from sites, namely Twitter, receive a common complaint about “noise” updates from users. There is even an application, Mixero, that was specifically designed to filter irrelevant information for these users, who reportedly have problems with “signal-to-noise ratios” on the 140-character, text-based platform. Text, i.e. the written word, is the most widely tested languages along with mathematics, and they both function as the essential motor skills required to carve any subject’s personal career path. In this new working environment rich in informative resources accessible anytime and anywhere, a scriber’s text, like the expressions of the typist on Twitter, is becoming more highly valued than any other time in history.
As the nature of the mirror-world Internet is providing this virtual platform for introvert users, their platform history reflects their levels of intelligence based on word economy to best represent their thoughts. Likewise, traditional college-entrance examinations review prospective applicants through written answers that reflects not only their thinking patterns, but also tests of reading fluency – the basic practice to speed up cognitive abilities, thus improving a subject’s attention span through gathering information relevant to the reader. Tests such as the SAT and GRE examinations review applicants’ level of intelligence mainly through their componential intelligence, one of the Triarchic Theories of Intelligence proposed by psychologist Robert Sternberg during the late 20th century.
While introverts are socially marginalized by lacking the other two types – experiential and contextual – the new world of texters is providing all the necessary ecosystem to enhance these intelligences, as long as these solitudes follow their hearts, otherwise what storytellers call their personal narrative. Take Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the virtual social phenomenon Facebook who was never really in the social scenes during his college years attending Harvard University. The self-confessed introvert always thought that Facebook was just “a Harvard thing”, but today it has made him one of the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.
As new ways of thinking form, new behaviors arise, and suddenly, creating our dream destinies into reality becomes possible. Findings at the PEW Internet & American Life Project predict that the line between augmented and virtual realities will become almost indistinguishable by 2020. “Nothing penetrates, or punctures. The real, which used to be defined by sensory immediacy, is redefined,” stated Sven Birkerts in his article “Reading in a Digital Age” from the Spring 2010 issue of The American Scholar. This mirror world provides a real-time feedback for the introvert, augmenting his “real life” with his missing components – the practical and experiential intelligences in his mind.
Considering the seven types of intelligences coined by developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, language can be a useful tool to combine with the others to enhance the general intelligence factor of the subject’s cognitive abilities. The seven types include linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences, along with understanding nature.
This generalization of intelligences underlies all intellectual behaviors, as theorized by Charles Spearman in 1923. Language, coupled with intrapersonal intelligence that introverts dominate out of “intransitive thinking,” such as through reading fiction and listening to music, provides what Birkerts called “contemplation”, much as when the subject is spending his time interacting within the virtual social-networking realm that translates into a moment of self-reflection. These isolated activities require a process of “thinking for its own sake, non-instrumental, as opposed to transitive thinking, the kind that would depend on a machine-drive harvesting of facts toward some specified end.”
According to the recent feature from Psychology Today, “Revenge of the Introverts”, Laurie Helgoe explained that introverts seek meaning in their lives by communicating with themselves during their moments of solitude, as opposed to leaning towards contemporary cultural emphasis on the search for personal happiness in life. In these changing times, almost every field of industry is becoming information-driven, and these personal reflections, when communicated with an additional language, may just be the answer for educating prospective students to become the next world leaders. By definition, the Encyclopedia Brittanica refers to a particular language as a “system of conventional spoken or written symbols used by people in a shared culture to communicate with each other”. Having just graduated from CUNY Queens in New York, Jeffrey Ho now holds a cum laude Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics & Communication Disorders. Growing up in Singapore for 10 years in his early education, he has adopted English as his first language while practicing conversational Bahasa Indonesia – his native language – every now and then.
“No matter where you go, English will always be the main language for communications,” said the 24-year old introvert who also holds a Minor in Japanese language and culture. Being immersed in the East-Asian practices has motivated him to serve the public by communicating his intellects with more depth and a richer eye that improved his spatial intelligence. “Monolinguals are essentially underutilizing their abilities: Brain scans shows that while monolinguals are established language centers such as Broca’s area [part of brain that is associated with speech], bilinguals employ far more of the neural landscape when expressing themselves,” wrote Carlin Flora in her recent article “Double Talk” published in the same issue of Psychology Today.
While leaders have to be expressive of their personal beliefs, inarguably extraverts can communicate to more people at one time with their self-confidence. On the other hand, a UK study on learner difference at the Higher Education Academy finds that “extrovert students worry less about accuracy and have a tendency to take risks with their language,” and for the multilingual introverts have the benefit of maintaining their objectives in multiple contexts, or what the scholar calls “the quality of a leader”. Still, Jeffrey values his in-depth understanding in the mechanics of English language. “Without English, you cannot survive in this world.”
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