But then, this:
“In nineteenth-century America, people lived in the country,” Blinkist explains. “Everybody knew everybody, and families were tightly knit.”
That lead into two paragraphs about how urbanization brought about the rise of the extraversion ideal. Maybe there was no better way to say that briefly. But there seems to be little value in saying it that way, specifically.
Each Blinkist section summary ends with a bolded takeaway, such as “Flipping the switch: Introverts can also act like extroverts” or “A truly skilled leader can unite the talents of introverts and extroverts.” That sounds ... fine, and is possibly even true, but are you really going to remember that? Much less fish it out of your mental vault at a job interview or whatever utilitarian situation you’ve turned to Blinkist for?
Surprisingly, the Wikipedia article, famously un-professional as it is, does a better job of highlighting Cain’s more notable contributions to the ideas ecosystem. It adequately sums up how she defines introversion differently than shyness; the two were commonly conflated before the book came out. It also touches on her crusade against open-plan offices—a sentiment that not only launched a million passive-aggressive news articles, but also forms the basis of Cain’s more recent work as an office-architecture consultant.
In Blinkist, meanwhile, even the final “key messages” section contained points that were far too vague and reductivist: “Extroverts like noise and need stimuli; introverts like to be alone and think.” That statement brings to mind a parody video showing what Meghan Trainor’s famous song would sound like if she was really all about that bass and preferred no treble whatsoever. Surely, some extroverts think sometimes. And there probably exists an introvert or two who has longed for the occasional stimulus.
* * *
The whole exercise made me question the point of reading. If people just want the “takeaways” from nonfiction tomes, why even bother with books, Wikipedia, or Blinkist? Why not just read some pop-science news articles? Or better yet, skip straight to the abstracts of the studies those stories are based on?
The reason people don’t do that, of course, is that reading news articles is easier and more fun than digging through PubMed. (At least, that is our intention.) And relaxing with a good book, full of rich anecdotes about the lives of real, introverted heroes, is exactly the kind of thing introverts find enjoyable.
Ultimately, I thought Wikipedia would be good enough for something like “going to a meet-and-greet organized by your local Introverts’ Society.” Given that such an event, by definition, would never take place, however, I’m struggling to think of another use-case. Maybe a first date with a book editor?
Someone cramming for some crucial networking function or management seminar will probably find Blinkist helpful—in fact, they attest to as much. But even with my own pragmatic ends in mind, I got the sense I was studying for a midterm of my own making. Blinkist’s value-add lies in trimming away everything but the “lessons” of nonfiction works. Fun, apparently, is just another thing left on the cutting-room floor.