Susan Cain would not have thought of using PewDiePie as a case in point. But I will. Because how can one have more than 54 millions fans on Youtube, and yet be an Introvert? Hopefully this study will be relevant somehow.
PewDiePie owns the number one channel on Youtube with (currently) 54,183,246 subscribers. That alone is impressive. He is known for his playthrough gaming videos. Though, he now uploads vlogs, comedies and other plenty other stuff daily. He has the highest record of subscribers of any Youtuber of all-time.
In most of his current videos, he’s facing the cam alone fearlessly. Playing games, talking, screaming and joking. And yes, millions of people appreciate this stuff… Everyday, he basically makes a new video content that is watched by 5 or 6 million people around the world. Entertaining his audience proudly and valiantly.
(And here we are still miserably afraid of public speaking.)
The Quiet And The Clamorous
So, it would be interesting to know if our Youtube genius is actually an I or an E. And we are not talking about introversion as in being shy (that’s too easy). But as the theory introduced by Carl Jung a few years ago. Quick reminder:
Introverts tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds.
Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people. Extroverts actually find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.
You can check this test to know your own preference.
Naturally, one might easily describe PewDiePie as the perfect entertainer, the “man of action” like described in Quiet.
ebullient, expansive, sociable, gregarious, excitable, dominant, assertive, risk-taking, thick-skinned, outer-directed, lighthearted, bold, and comfortable in the spotlight
Sounds right. But despite the evidence, some other clues show that he is likely to be an Introvert.
In his older videos (he’s been around for 7 years), he is pretty shy. Today, he also acknowledges that fundamentally he is still shy inside.
When he is home, he looks way more calm and gentle.
When he appears on other shows than his own, he looks more modest and discreet.
What is the point of all of this you might say? Our modern society has developed this idea that successful people need to be extroverts. Relentlessly outgoing, fun, assertive. In schools, students have to socialise and party if they want to be at the top of the social hierarchy. And it only gets worse. Team-working and presentation skills, even exuberance and overconfidence are assets in business.
Socialising is a greater challenge for introverts, who are not naturally comfortable with excessive human contact.
So, Is Personality Flexible?
Introverts’ assets are sadly undervalued. Introverts are creative people, reflective, cerebral, sensitive. It does not imply though that introverts will always do poorly with leadership, public speaking or entertaining. Actually, a lot of successful leaders are introverts, think of Bill Gates or Gandhi.
Professor Brian Little developed the “Free Trait Theory”. He believes that even if we are born with certain personality traits like introversion, we sometimes act “out of character” for the sake of work we consider important.
Everybody has fixed traits, but also free traits that can be invested in other personality traits.
It explains how is it possible for introverts like PewDiePie to entertain his audience with such passion everyday. To me, that is a great source of inspiration.
The bottom line is the truth about faking extroversion (or introversion). It is exhausting, probably a bit ambiguous and unauthentic, but it is possible. As an introvert, never underestimate your social potential. If you are doing what you love, you can be everything.