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Introverts Unite, or at least consider it quietly over a cup of tea - Accretions

Fata Morgana
2006-03-20 14:10
Introverts Unite, or at least consider it quietly over a cup of tea
identity, news, online, psychology, research
I've been told often enough throughout my life that I need to "get out there" more -- be more assertive, be more aggressive, be more social, or just plain talk more (dammit!). However, when it comes to teaching, presenting, hosting a party, or interacting in other social situations, I can do just fine, and I even enjoy public speaking (as evinced by my years teaching planetarium shows at Holt Planetarium and dance lessons for UCBD). But being "out there," especially for long periods of time, and especially in unstructured social situations such as parties, sure does wear me out. I've never been a partier: I often get to know more of the books on my party host's bookcase than strangers at the party. In high-school psychology I realized I was just introverted, and throughout my life I've learned to "cope" with my "impairment." Well, a couple of years ago, an introverted writer decided to speak out. Nothing's wrong with being introverted, he said, and there's a lot that's right. And further, introverts are rather inconvenienced by the smalltalk and sociality that is expected of them. "Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts." And from a later interview: "Extroverts should understand that if someone is being quiet it doesn't mean they're having a bad time; it doesn't mean they're depressed; it doesn't mean they're lonely or need psychiatric help or medication. A lot of the battle is making the extrovert world more aware."

In the article and follow-up interview, the author stated that we live in a world that favors extroverts. I would agree completely for the physical world. (I've been lucky in that pretty much all the people I've been close to have been introverts. As an aside, a high-school classmate of dag29580863's once said that he'd only ever heard D say three words in all of high school. D, in his usual inimitable style, retorted, "Make that six.") But I would argue that the virtual world can be as well suited to introverts as extroverts. Online I can take my time responding, walk away, or sequester myself completely (... at least with most of my friends). It lets me stay connected to friends, but on terms I am more comfortable with -- less intense and more ambient, like the occasional connection one has when working independently but with someone else in the same room.

Are you introverted too? Do you also like the affordances of online communication? Does it also help you extroverts out there feel more connected?
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Fata Morgana
2006-03-21 05:36 (UTC)
(no subject)
Definitely, extraversion - especially amongst males - is highly desirable in American culture.

He actually argues that women are more pressured to be extroverted: "In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty." I guess coy and cutesy is one alternative ...
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2006-03-21 07:35 (UTC)
(no subject)
Yes, well - I haven't read his article, and perhaps his observation's very valid for the Midwest. I will also agree that women have considerable pressure placed upon them to be extraverted as well.

However, it's not been in my experience for women to be encouraged to be extremely social. Perhaps it's my limited exposure to the outgoing lifestyle, but I've been brought up in circles that the extremely extraverted women are often mocked and considered highly undesirable, often labelled as "trouble."

The pressures might differ around various regions of the country. Perhaps Southern and Midwestern culture encourages the "Southern Hospitality" type behaviour from women, which is at an introverted woman's disadvantage. However, maybe in the Northeast and in California, the introverted, standoffish woman is more acceptable. While I can understand that women who do not speak often are may be construed as timid, withdrawn, and haughty... but sometimes people find that attractive. Again, extraverted hegemony manifesting itself.

I guess what this country needs is a good, healthy dose that embraces individual differences on a fundamental level that go beyond race, gender, and sexual orientation, and start looking at basic core personality attributes. I believe, when it all comes down to it, people's preferences in how they choose to behave in social settings and what personalities of people they want to interact with is a very individual choice... and that a "one-style-fits-all" approach is just irrational thinking.
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2006-04-11 02:01 (UTC)
(no subject)
There are a lot of ways of defining 'extremely social'. Women who are extreme flirts are labelled as trouble. But flirting and socializing are two completely different things.

Men may be pressured to make the first move to engage someone, but they may bow into, or out of, a conversation at any time for basically any reason with no real social repercussions. Additionally, it is a social norm for men to be doing something -- stereotypically playing poker, watching a ball game, playing golf, etc.

Women, in comparison are much more frequently expected to have some amount of social grace. That is, women are still expected to play hostess in a group, to make sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time. Which means making idle small talk, the very thing the introvert despises. It is often perceived as a slight or an insult, among groups of women to not remember someone's birthday/anniversary/child's name/child's list of extra curriculars, etc, even if the someone in question is not a particularly close friend. Men can get away with remembering some assortment of these details about their families. A woman who falls outside these social norms, who would prefer not to speak until spoken to, and even then to not say much unless she feels she has something interesting and valuable to add to the conversation is written off by other women as aloof, arrogant or distant, and largely unnoticed by men, or labelled 'too much work'.
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