Things I like: Working in a coffee shop. Reading by myself with a beer in a pub. Bars with jukeboxes. Quiet restaurants with no wait. Things I hate: Any of the aforementioned stuff plus a huge crowd, depriving me of a little corner to sit in. Well, that annoyance might be a thing of the past, thanks to Avoid Humans, an app that helps you avoid other people using location-tagged Instagram and Foursquare posts. If you, too, dislike large crowds full of people you mostly don't know, Avoid Humans might be just what you need to maintain your sanity as an introvert in a big city.
Avoid Humans rates prospective locations, including cafes, parks, bars and restaurants, from "Welcome, Agoraphobics" (least crowded) to "Run!" (most crowded). This way, you can meet a friend for a quiet conversation, find a good coffee shop in which to work on your graphic novel or even finagle an acceptable break-up location (a light crowd, so it's public, but not too crowded, so it's not embarrassing and hard to hear) with relative ease. Finding a place with smaller crowds also has the advantage of lowering your chances of running into an old coworker or a girl you vaguely knew in high school, so that's another added bonus right there. Trust me when I say that those awkward, stilted conversations are not a necessary part of life.
The app might sound a bit silly, but it got me thinking about how hard it is to avoid people where I am right now, in a popular neighborhood of New York City. For any quiet contemplation, I'm pretty much stuck with staying at home and hoping my roommate isn't there.
I've learned some tricks, however, for seeking out stillness in a crowded town. Here's how to live in a big city as an introvert without losing your mind:
1. Learn to love off hours
Go to brunch before noon or after 3 p.m.; go to restaurants for dinner after 9 p.m.; try out bars on weeknights instead of weekends; etc. It really makes a difference.
2. Check out the hangouts in more residential areas of your city.
Neighborhoods with mostly houses are going to have quieter spots than the popular hipster neighborhood in your city.
3. When you make a reservation at a restaurant, ask for a specific table.
If you don't know where the tables are at the restaurant, just ask the host for the quietest spot in the restaurant. They'll know where it is.
4. Check the website of the spot you're thinking about hitting up to make sure there are no special events going on.
Why is this bar crowded on a Wednesday? Oops, it's Trivia Night.
5. Invite people for house parties instead.
In some ways, it's even more comfortable, and all you have to do when it's over is plop in your bed!