Monday, January 13, 2014

So Introverts Have People's Attention. Now What?

Quick meta update: I've mentioned this on Facebook but not on my blog and wanted to make it available to blog readers. If you want to follow along with my adventures to watch a movie every weekday this year, most of which are chosen by my friends, not me, you can join my Facebook group at this link. I kick off the challenge today with my viewing of Crazy Heart, so come, join, and chat about movies with me.

I haven't written a lot about introversion on here in awhile, mostly because... I haven't really felt a need to. I haven't encountered a lot of crazy extrovert bias (at least not enough to make me go, "Oh, this is a cultural thing I should respond to!") and in the last few months especially, there have been plenty of introvert-related things popping up all over the Internet. So, as an introvert, I felt pretty comfortable sitting back and letting other people say things. The last time I wrote something about introversion was last September, and that was a response to an extrovert who was mad that people were talking about introversion too much. Heh.

Obviously introverts are getting the word out. In all this, I see lots of introverts embracing and proclaiming their own love for solitude, claiming the label "introvert" without assigning it a negative connotation, and cheerfully announcing they'd rather stay at home than go to a New Year's Eve party, and it's OK.

It's not like we've won the battle and there will never be bias again or anything, but I would say the "raise awareness" part of our little unofficial campaign is going quite well.

So... now what do we do?

Well, here are some thoughts to keep in mind as we watch the tide change on this issue.

1. Let's start assuming people know what we're talking about. Until recently, I did still have to explain everywhere I went that introversion and shyness aren't the same. This is passing into common knowledge at a very speedy rate, so let's react to it appropriately. Since some of these introvert-centered memes end up portraying us as pretentious elitists, so let's avoid that by not talking down to people. If you're talking about introversion/extroversion with someone, start with the assumption that they know the basics of what it's all about. If they don't, you can tell them. But by assuming at first that they probably have noticed what's been all over the Internet, you can keep yourself from sounding condescending and playing into these new negative introvert stereotypes of "we think we're better than you."

2. Let's remember why we love our extrovert friends. Some of these memes paint extroverts as horrible soul-sucking monsters, and while some of them may be, so are some introverts. :-) That last introversion post I wrote was in response to someone who was clearly upset about being painted with that anti-extroversion brush, and after I finished my panic attack about her apparent anger toward me just for being an introvert, I was able to breathe and realize that it probably wasn't any more pleasant for her to find herself targeted just for her extroversion. Extroverts aren't the enemy. Jerks and misunderstandings are the enemy. We're working toward the goal of "being kind people and making everyone feel like they're worth something."

3. Let's not get smug and superior. In all our attempts to affirm our own self-worth, it's easy to flip that around and be like, "Well, we're misunderstood because we're actually better than everyone else simply by being introverts," and that's just nonsense. Related to the above two points, being jerks to extroverts helps our case not at all. None of this "we are the deep ones," "we are the smart ones," "we are the better friends." We are not perfect, special, magical beings. We are flawed, often annoying humans who happen to like being alone a lot, so we're not any better off than the flawed, often annoying humans who happen to like being with people a lot.

4. Let's just enjoy being introverts. Really, amid all the talking and blogging and such, the most beneficial thing for everyone is for us just to happily be our introverted selves - no apologies, no regrets, no shame or guilt. Most people get used to it. And with the sudden explosion of introvert memes, it's easier than ever to tell someone, "Oh, thanks for inviting me but, but I think I'll just stay home tonight," and they get it. So enjoy that!

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