Shyness is something different: a longing for connection with other people which is foiled by fear and awkwardness. The danger in simply accepting it, as Cain urges us to do with introversion, is that shyness can easily turn into a self-fulfilling persona — the pose becomes part of you, like a mask that melds with your face. There is always something we cling to in an unhappy situation that stops us escaping from it. In my case, it is the belief that lots of voluble people do not really listen to each other, that they simply exchange words as though they were pinging them over a tennis net — conducting their social life entirely on its surface. A small, self-regarding part of me thinks there is something glib about easy articulacy and social skill.
This goes way beyond the Trump administration, Russia-gate, and the current political brouhaha over the 2016 presidential election: this is about the epistemic corruption that is rife in our political class. It is a pandemic born of groupthink, hypocrisy, smugness, and the willingness to fabricate “facts” in order to achieve political ends. It is a deadly disease, and it is killing us. The only antidote is a free media untethered to political interests and answerable only to the truth – and that is precisely what we don’t have right now. The media is complicit in all this: indeed, they are the carriers of the bacillus that is destroying this country. What happens when a free society poisons itself? I’m afraid we’re about to find out.