Over the past few years - maybe a decade - I've become more of an introvert. I'm less likely to go out to events, much more likely to seek 1:1 interactions than group interactions, tire out more, need alone time to recharge, etc.
Sunday ?evening? at Arisia I had, to quote Pygment, "run out of social." Two-plus days of being 'on' for panels, being constantly around people, going to parties, etc. had pretty much used up my supply of social energy. Party-hopping that night was an effort and I was low-key/drag-ass. I refer to it as "running on impulse power".
Anyway, we left one party intending to head to bed but Pygment suggested we stop in another party that was on the same floor, so we did. The party wasn't particularly small, nor particularly quiet. I found myself sitting on the floor sort of on the periphery of a conversation among a small group of a couple friends, acquaintances, and one new person.
To my surprise, I found I had energy. The things that normally I think of as draining - the people, the noise, folks stepping over me, not being fully involved in the conversation - were OK. I was fine, and it ended up being Pygment who eventually suggested we leave.
On the way back to our room from that last party we ran into a couple people, one acquaintance of Pygment's and one... scuse me if I go all elitist stereotypical, but he was a loud, arrogant, thought-he-was-funny-but-really-wasn't guy. A boor. I realized that all the energy I'd gotten back just drained out of me.
I am, and have always been, a curmudgeon. My "totem animal" is a troll, the guy who just wants to hang out under his bridge and not have some noisy sod banging on the roof. I don't mean troll in the modern Internet sense of "jackass who stirs up trouble just to get a reaction" but, troll.
I'm starting to think that it's not "social" per se that drains me, but 'fake' social. I don't mean that to be demeaning to any of my friends because it's a broad spectrum, not a bright line. Sometimes I really can't handle being around anyone and just have to put on my headphones or dive into pixel-fantasy-game-land. Sometimes I deal really well with random social - ask Pygment about the guy from the auto show we talked with in the hotel lobby on Sunday night.
I think I just happened to hit two near-extremes on a continuum in a row: a party of people I felt comfortable with sitting and listening to, and a random person I would just as soon have throat-punched to shut him up. It apparently takes me real energy to deal with that, whereas being in the company of others is more recharging to me.
At this point I imagine lots of you are going "no duh you idiot" but hey I'm slow sometimes. I suppose, looking at things with this lens, I've had lots of cues. I long ago lost track of the number of people who told me variants of, "boy I'm glad I got to talk to you 1:1 because you're so different in person than you are in a group." Some were nicer about it than others.
Anyway, that's the thing and I'm going to sit with it for a while and try to figure out whether it's true and if so what it tells me.