An Open Letter to Google From an Introvert

An introvert smiles at the camera.

Dear Google,

Let’s be real, I think you’re pretty great. In fact, I’d have a hard time living without you. When I came to the end of season two of Orange is the New Black and I panicked, a Google search immediately comforted me by providing the release date of season three. When I got lost driving to a friend’s old house, Google Maps guided me without even making me feel bad.

But we need to talk. There’s something that’s bugging me. When I google “introvert definition,” this is your web definition result:

A shy, reticent person; a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.

You’re not the only one with an outdated definition. This one from Cambridge Dictionaries Online is worse:

Someone who is shy, quiet, and unable to make friends easily.

Not only are those definitions hurtful to an introvert like me, but they’re also inaccurate.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve had moments of shyness, and at times, I’ve struggled to reach out to others and make friends. When I’m in a room full of people I don’t know well, I may not say much. Yet these things don’t define my introversion. According to Susan Cain, TED speaker and author of Quiet, shyness and introversion are completely different things. She writes, “Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments.”

Sophia Dembling, Psychology Today blogger and author of The Introvert’s Way, writes, “The number-one misconception about introversion is that it’s about shyness. The best distinction I’ve heard comes from a neuroscientist who studies shyness. He said, ‘Shyness is a behavior – it’s being fearful in a social situation. Whereas introversion is a motivation. It’s how much you want and need to be in those interactions.’”

You can be an introvert without being shy, like Bill Gates. There are even extroverts, like Barbara Streisand, who are shy.

Reticent… hold on, I need to google that… oh, it means “not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily.”

I’m not that either. I’m opinionated — just ask my boyfriend or my former roommates. Wait, on second thought, don’t ask them, because I don’t really want you to know about all the times I’ve been an ass and stuck my foot in my mouth.

Plus, aren’t I sharing my thoughts and feelings with you and the whole Internet right now?

As for that last part — if I cared more about my own thoughts and feelings rather than external things, I wouldn’t have bothered to write you this letter.

Google, I don’t want you to forget how much I love you, but I have one request. Please change that definition. I’m asking others as well, such as Dictionary.com, the Oxford Dictionaries (which Google uses for its web definitions), and of course, the Cambridge Dictionaries Online.

Here’s a better definition:

Someone who prefers calm, minimally stimulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone.

Google’s own co-founder and CEO Larry Page has been described as introverted. So Google, you understand, right?

Still quietly your biggest fan,

Jenn Granneman, founder of Introvert, Dear 

(and introverts everywhere)

Jenn Granneman is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. She also cohosts The Introvert, Dear Podcast and blogs for Psychology Today. For most of her life, Jenn felt weird, different, and out of place because of her quiet ways. She writes about introversion because she doesn’t want other introverts to feel the way she did.