4 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Introverts
We are introverts. And we have a few things we need to get off of our chests. I'd apologize for appointing myself as a spokesperson for all introverts, but most of them won't mind ... and quite frankly, those who do mind won't say anything about it because, well, they're introverts. If you're not one of us, don't worry. I'm not here to give you shit or make you feel bad. There are just some misconceptions about who we are as people, and I think it's important that you understand a few things about us before we finally snap and stab your face off.
We Are Not Going to Snap and Stab Your Face Off
Once every couple of years, some deranged psychopath steals a tank, drives into a mall, and starts leveling the food court, screaming out the names of random family members as each fast food booth disintegrates in a cloud of dust, flames, and overpriced pizza. For the next month, every dumbfuck, ratings-hungry news channel turns the guy into a god by interviewing everyone he ever made eye contact with.
Sources say psychopaths drink water regularly, which can't be ruled out as a catalyst.
In interviewing these people, we get two consistent descriptions that always show up in every single catastrophe. They'll either say that they couldn't believe that he did it because he was such an outgoing, friendly guy -- you'd never expect that he was secretly a ticking time bomb of taco-stand annihilation. Or they'll talk endlessly about how he was a quiet loner. Always kept to himself, obviously plotting the demise of coffee shops and cellphone cover booths.
It's always bothered me that the news devotes so much time to their social status. I mean, I understand why they do it. We want an explanation so we can understand what made Chad Angrytank finally pop and whip out his tank fury. And for some reason, it's just not enough for us to settle on, "He had obvious mental problems. Sane people don't go on murder rampages." It's just always been weird to me that they choose that specific area of his life to examine, barely branching out to other possibilities or clues.
Can you spot the ticking time bomb?
But over time, we've seen so many of these "He was a loner time bomb" stories that we've started to associate completely normal introverts with an inevitable madman demise. That dude isn't a human. He's an eventual headline. Even from a non-murder viewpoint, it's still hard to not be creeped out by introverts because our personalities and mental conditions are an unknown to people outside of our bubble.
We are biologically predisposed to fear the unknown. It's why little kids are afraid of the dark and won't hang their feet over the edge of the bed, for fear that whatever is down there, just out of their sight, is going to suddenly pop out and spank their ass with a chainsaw. It was nature's way of keeping us out of the woods after dark so our species didn't end up as nocturnal predator turds. And even though we may not need it as much today as we did when we all had full-body fur, it's still embedded in our genetic infrastructure.
It's why all the scariest horror movies are the ones where not much is shown of the killer/monster. It's 10 times more frightening when you don't know where they're at. He's somewhere out there. Lurking. Hiding. Waiting to jump out and Freddy Krueger my dick off.
That unknown factor freaks us out, and in not knowing the personality quirks of an introvert, we assume that it must be bad, just to be on the safe side.
We Are Not Drowning in a Sea of Depression
People seem to think that because we're not out at the club or taking part in the neighborhood "Oppress Minorities" meetings, we're sitting at home, alone in the dark, softly crying into a printed-out stock photo of a random crowd. Scatter-shooting prayers at a Red Rover line of gods, begging for someone -- anyone -- to come over and save us from our loneliness.
Warning: Do not attempt. Indulging a "white knight" fantasy may result in regret and extreme discomfort.
Now before we go any further, understand that there are some people out there who have genuine fears of social activity. But for the purposes of this article, I'm not talking about people who are introverts against their will. I'm talking about the millions of us out there who are introverts because we simply prefer our nice, quiet houses over the jaw-clinching idiocy of public functions.
I see parents (and have been one of them) get intensely concerned over their kids' computer or phone use, saying things like, "She needs to get off of that thing and go meet actual people." As a parent and a functioning human, I understand the need and benefits of "real life" social interaction for growing kids. I know that reading facial expressions, tones of voice, and body language is a highly valuable skill, and their hopes of finding a good job (let alone making it through the interview) banks on them being familiar with it. And the more people they sharpen that skill on, the better they will become.
Also don't pee anywhere to "make your mark" on the company.
On the other side of that coin, as a full-grown adult, I also understand that once you've learned those skills, your life doesn't malfunction or cease to carry meaning if you decide that the whole "face-to-face" interactions suck big ol' floppy horse balls.
Personally, I have an exponentially easier time opening up and sharing myself when I'm not staring into someone's confused, horrified eyes while I'm telling stories about my dad measuring my brother's shit in front of my first date (that actually happened, by the way). In many ways I'm more human in that setting, and our relationship is much more intimate without the setbacks of a person being physically in my presence.
I think many introverts are like that. I'd even go as far as saying we are a big reason that social media sites became the juggernauts that they are. Well, besides giving us the ability and access to occasionally trash talk Rob Thomas for no reason at all over the stupidest, non-trash-talk-worthy reasons:
The statistics might show something different for all I know (a rudimentary Google search shows stats going both directions, so there's a lot of bias to sift through), but in my real world experience, introverts go through depression about as often as extroverts. I guess it's just easier to assume that we're all brooding emo twats because, to the outside eye, we appear to be hiding in isolation.
Oh, speaking of that ...
We Don't Hate the Mainstream
I'm about to take some broad strokes here. Feel free to make your own masturbation joke. Once you're done giggling, we'll move on.
Done? OK, obviously, I can't sum- No? Really? *Sigh*.
Christ. Take another minute.
We good? Awesome. OK, so obviously I can't sum up all introverts by throwing a "here's what we enjoy" instruction manual into the box. But I have talked to enough people to know that there are many who make really simplistic "therefore" statements about us, based on very little information. "He doesn't go to the movie theater. Therefore, he hates movies." "He doesn't go to concerts or parties. Therefore, he doesn't like music or half naked girls puking vodka and grape Kool-Aid in the sink."
If you've had a miserable movie experience lately, you're closer to understanding introversion.
I suppose some of that is our fault. We're not usually very liberal with handing out unsolicited information about ourselves, and that leaves outsiders to supply their own guesswork and assumptions. But the sweeping generalization is that we actually do like the same things as everyone else. We just prefer to enjoy them without a buzzing hive of people around us.
We like movies -- we just prefer to wait for them to come out on DVD and watch them in our own living room. We'd rather watch a concert on TV than packed in an audience like sweaty, constantly bouncing sardines. We attend just as many orgies as the average person. We just do it with our hand and a vivid, well-trained imagination.
Unfortunately, though, for everyone involved in the assumption that we hate all things mainstream, it's not going to go away anytime soon. As long as there are activities that force us to leave the house, we will always look like we're avoiding it because it's not in line with our vastly superior taste in entertainment. Extroverts will continue to call us "hipsters," and, in turn, we will continue learning new MMA choke holds in preparation for our eventual assault on the outside world.
No one's a hipster for being tired of Imagine Dragons.
It's one thing to make those assumptions about entertainment, but where it gets weird -- like Criss Angel weird -- is when it's made about our connection to society, itself. And if you take nothing else from this article, at least remember ...
We Are Not Socially Disconnected Outcasts
A couple of years ago, Christina H talked about how society generally assumes that quiet people lack social skills. She makes some great points in that article. You should definitely read it with your face's eyeballs. But I've found that with outright introverts, there's another tier in which people believe that we lack any social connections at all.
Modern humans must tweet and brag about every life experience to present a healthy social life among peers.
When I was a kid, we had a neighbor who came outside once a week and sat on his steps, just looking around and enjoying the weather. He was the stereotypical creepy old man who never talked to anyone or went anywhere. His clothes had a faint smell of cat piss and cigar smoke. I always liked to think that he didn't smoke, himself, but all of his cats did, and he hated them for it.
Anyway, I knew about that old man for more than a year before I finally saw some of his family show up to visit him. And the sight of those cars pulling up to that house was almost surreal. As soon as I saw him come out to greet them, he ceased to be the creepy old cat/cigar dude and became ... well, human. Up until that point, I couldn't even imagine him having a conversation with another person, let alone laughing and hugging, getting his cat urine all over their clean clothes.
It wasn't until I was a full-grown adult that I understood that you can be an introvert but still have friends. That we can go to social functions like "normal" people, but we typically do it on our terms. "Thanks for inviting us. We can't stay long, but we thought we'd stop by and say hi to everyone. Maybe snort some cocaine out of your mom's ass crack like old times."
Before retreating to our respective "life caves."
"We can't stay long" is our go-to phrase, by the way. On top of doing everything on our own terms, we also do them in small doses. If we're forced to attend something that requires an extended visit like a wedding or birthday party, we can show up and function just like everyone else. We'll just do it with a constant feeling of, "Holy shit, is this over yet? I just want to go home, take off my shoes, and jack off to a Game of Thrones torture scene on my own couch." And that feeling will show up every five minutes until the event ends.
No, most of us aren't disconnected from our fellow man. Online, I am a social goddamn machine, baby! I talk to people on my Twitter all the time. It's that whole "physically going somewhere" part that we have trouble wrapping our desire and motivation around.
I'd love it if we could get past assuming that introverts are all depressed, social outcast freaks who hate joy. Yes, those people do exist, but surely there are just as many extroverts who fit that same description. Otherwise, I don't know how to explain Bill Maher.