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?
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.