The Nerd Handbook and Caring for Your Introvert

Rands In Repose’s Nerd Hand­book is an essay on under­stand­ing geeks; from our insa­ti­able appet­ite for know­ledge to our hard-to-decipher social inter­ac­tion ‘skills’. The Hand­book is at times pain­fully pre­cise.

The nerd has based his career, maybe his life, on the com­puter, and as we’ll see, this intim­ate rela­tion­ship has altered his view of the world. He sees the world as a sys­tem which, giv­en enough time and effort, is com­pletely know­able. This is a fra­gile illu­sion that your nerd has adop­ted, but it’s a pleas­ant one that gets your nerd through the day. When the illu­sion is broken, you are going to dis­cov­er that…

Your nerd has con­trol issues
Your nerd has built him­self a cave
Your nerd loves toys and puzzles
Nerds are fuck­ing funny
Your nerd has an amaz­ing appet­ite for inform­a­tion
Your nerd has built an annoy­ingly effi­cient rel­ev­ancy engine in his head
Your nerd might come off as not lik­ing people

I see a lot of myself here, and I’ll have to remem­ber to send this to any future pro­spect­ive Mrs Mor­gans. In fact, while I’m at it, maybe I should also send them The Atlantic’s art­icle on caring for your intro­vert… they share a lot in com­mon with us.

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet con­ver­sa­tions about feel­ings or ideas, and can give a dynam­ite present­a­tion to a big audi­ence, but seems awk­ward in groups and mal­ad­roit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recu­per­ate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accos­ted with pleas­ant­ries by people who are just try­ing to be nice?

[…]

If you answered yes to these ques­tions, chances are that you have an intro­vert on your hands—and that you aren’t caring for him prop­erly.

How can I let the intro­vert in my life know that I sup­port him and respect his choice?

First, recog­nize that it’s not a choice. It’s not a life­style. It’s an ori­ent­a­tion.
Second, when you see an intro­vert lost in thought, don’t say “What’s the mat­ter?” or “Are you all right?”
Third, don’t say any­thing else, either.