The Toxicity of Introvert Culture

Imagine you’re at a get-together with some of your friends, and you meet someone new. You make small talk for a while, but then the conversation turns to fruit.

“I’m an apple-lover,” your new friend says, carefully explaining to you what that means, what apples are, and how apple-lovers are just so misunderstood.

When there’s a lull in the conversation, you say, “I like apples, but I actually prefer oranges.”

And that’s when the conversation gets nasty. Your new apple-loving friend demands to know how you could be so rude and inconsiderate to have different ideas about fruit. Clearly apple-lovers are superior, and orange-lovers need to know where their place is!

Now, I don’t know about you, but that whole scenario sounds pretty ridiculous to me. I mean, imagine being awful to someone else just because of one of their traits. Seems crazy, right?

Oh. Wait.


It’s in the tagline of my blog, but for the sake of clarity: I am an introvert.

Here’s something my tagline doesn’t say: I think introverts can sometimes be really awful.

With the internet and social media, people can now interact with each other without having to be in the same room, or even the same continent. It’s a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, while this new technology is beneficial, it’s also helped create a toxic Introvert Culture that’s highly exclusive and rather nasty.

So today, I’m calling you out. Calling us out. Look, fellow introverts, I’m on your side, but you guys are really annoying sometimes. Even though we often do them without thinking, I’d like to share a few things that we introverts should put a stop to.

Stop pretending you’re special

Introverts like to say things like “I need alone time,” “I don’t like small talk,” or “I don’t like physical contact.” And while those things may be true, here’s a news flash: pretty much everyone, introvert or extrovert, has similar needs and preferences. It may not be to the same extent as an introvert: for example, introverts do tend to need more alone time than an extrovert does, but that doesn’t mean the extrovert doesn’t need alone time. We need to get over ourselves.

Stop being condescending

Most people know what an introvert is, at least in a general sense. They might have their own preconceptions (good or bad) about what introverts are like, but you’re only feeding the “arrogant introvert” stereotype when you explain to everyone what exactly an introvert is. If they ask you to explain, then go on and explain, but do so in a kind manner, not in a way that sounds like you’re talking down to them.

Stop using introversion as an excuse

Look, I get it – being around high volumes of people for extended periods of time makes us tired, and I believe it’s good to recognize that and take time to recharge. However, what isn’t good is when your introversion becomes an excuse for being a jerk. Believe it or not, you do still need to be able to function in society and carry on conversations with people you might not want to talk to. Being an introvert doesn’t just give you a pass to be rude or ignore people. It’s like saying “no offense” and then proceeding to say something offensive. Saying “I’m an introvert” doesn’t negate your bad actions.

Yes, you should say “thank you” to the cashier at WalMart. Deal with it. Everyone has to do this, and we are not the exception to the rule.

Stop acting like a hermit

Believe it or not, human beings need other people. Social isolation is NOT good for your mental or physical health (don’t believe me? Spend some time researching it online, you’ll see what I mean). Just because we’re an introvert and we (generally) need less human interaction than average doesn’t mean we’re impervious to social isolation. I don’t care if you even just have one friend – you can’t go through life alone.

Stop vilifying extroverts

Remember how you felt when everyone hated introverts? I can’t speak from experience, but I’ll wager that that’s how the extroverts probably feel in this day and age. Introvert Culture has turned extroverts into the “bad guys,” spreading the idea that extroversion is somehow morally wrong. Our media uses jokes about extroverts dragging introverts to parties, making introverts uncomfortable, and generally making them the antagonists in the story. I don’t know about you, but if that were flipped the other way around, I know I wouldn’t like being the villain.

Stop thinking you’re the only ones who are misunderstood

Introverts tend to play the victim – we become overly offended when we’re being misunderstood, and we act as though we’re the only ones who get treated this way. In reality, extroverts are just as misunderstood and stereotyped just as often as introverts. The humanity of a person doesn’t depend on their introversion or extroversion. We all hurt when we’re being misunderstood. Introverts aren’t the only ones.

Stop acting like you’re the best

There’s nothing about introversion or extroversion that makes someone a better person. Really, it’s just another way of describing how we interact with the people and world around us. An introvert is no better or worse than an extrovert, so there’s no reason for us to act like it. Yes, extroverts can be rude, but so can introverts. Our personality type doesn’t affect how good of a person we are – it’s how we treat the people around us. In the future, maybe we should start treating people as people and not changing that based on their personality traits.


I’ve done my best to explain the issues of Introvert Culture, and I certainly had some help (thanks, Kiara!), but I’d love to hear your thoughts too! Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert (or somewhere in between), I’m sure you’ve noticed this phenomenon too.

What would you add to the list? Feel free to share in the comments!

Until next time!

4 thoughts on “The Toxicity of Introvert Culture

  1. This comes year late but:
    – mixing mentall illness with introversion.

    For a long time i thought i was introvert because ppl kept lumping those two together untill i was diagnosed with avoidant personality order and ptsd. Now that i am getting treatment i realized i am an extrovert and started living much happier and richer life.
    Honestly there’s a culture in tumblr and other plat forms that disturbs me:”Oh! I get panic attack while on phone i am sooo quirky introvert!” To me, that’s just romantizing mental illness :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, there is definitely a difference between the two. There’s such a general misunderstanding about introversion vs. extroversion (and mental illness) that it’s easy for people to mix up the two things. You make a great point – thanks for commenting!

      Like

  2. An interesting angle on a topic where you continuously hear the same thing over and over again. I agree with Hanna that sometimes introversion and mental illness can be lumped together because sometimes they go hand in hand, and we need to make sure we understand the nuances and difference between them. I tend to agree that extroversion is more highly valued in society, but that doesn’t mean us as introverts can use our disposition as an excuse. Rather, we need to levy our differences and use them as an advantage toward adding value to the world around us. It’s a ying and yang situation and both intros and extros are important and necessary for society to function!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved reading this! I’ve always been termed an “extrovert” but felt I was misunderstood due to this quick assessment of my personality. Being outspoken, social, and at ease with other humans are things I feel are some of the best parts of me. However, I’ve not always naturally been this way — it’s mostly learned. And with that, I’ve felt I didn’t belong to either group — I love alone time and I enjoy the company of others. Somedays I stay indoors and want to be left alone and other days I want to get out and socialize.

    However, lately I’ve tried to step away from classifying myself and others into these two groups: extroverts and introverts. Personally, I feel it does people more of a disservice than anything to place them into an either/or camp — it creates an “us vs. them” mentality. In reality, genetics aren’t the only contributing factors in shaping our personalities. Depending on family dynamics, cultural influences, and what generation you’re assigned to it can change how each individual interacts with those around them and how they interpret their world.

    In short, I think you hit the nail on the head with this piece. Thank you!

    Like

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