Even though I am an introvert, it sets my teeth on edge to see an article entitled "9 Rules for Being Friends with an Introvert." "Rules" implies something hard-and-fast. Different people introvert in different ways.
In fact, the only "rules" in the list that fit me even somewhat are 5 (yes, sometimes "tired" means "socialed out") and 9 (if I say I'm okay staying home, I really am; and though sometime someone else's enthusiasm can drag me out, that doesn't mean my default desire to be dragged out). The rest I say "meh" at.
On the other hand, your paragraph about Netflix and Jimmy John's is making me uncomfortable, possibly because we're reading the original with different emphases.
I am in fact -- quite happily -- spending this very weekend alone, alternating between working on a Sekrit Project and watching Netflix (Foyle's War), and would probably have ordered pizza for delivery tonight if I hadn't gone out for sushi instead. None of that is because I'm chronically depressed (I am, in the greater scheme of things, but am doing pretty well right now, I'm happy to say) or because I'm chronically socially lazy. I'm doing it because that's how I want to spend this particular weekend, and had been looking forward to it all week.
I'm an introvert, but most of my friends are introverts, too. So there's no point in my trying to outsource my social life, even if I thought it was a good idea.
Generalizations bad. All of them.
There's a difference between spending this very weekend alone (I LOVE WEEKENDS ALONE) and spending EVERY weekend alone and NEVER seeing anyone but a food delivery person. The article writer chose to say the latter, not the former.
Not to be all introverted about it, but thank you for doing this social work! I've been grinding my teeth at the care-and-feeding memes for ages, meaning to dissect them and never quite getting around to it. Mind-modeling and communication are useful things! "The right way to interact with an introvert is to read their mind and never expect any care or consideration," though...somewhat less so.
(My personal favorite -- not this article, but another like it -- was, "Introverts will often cancel on plans repeatedly and never initiate any. Keep inviting them, though!" Ahahahaha. In so many ways and for so many reasons: NOPE.)
I knew a guy who canceled on plans repeatedly and never initiated any. One of the most extroverted people I've met. Also: kind of a jerk.
I have friends who certainly identify as introverts, but they don't seem all that different from me or less able to initiate, have and maintain social contact. You're right that it's a skill set. I don't think being introverted is as special as all the memes and Introvert Pride articles have claimed. Extroverts need quiet time also, are not invariably the ones to suggest getting together, blah blah generalizations can bite me.
Yes, I'm not really convinced that introversion and extraversion are anywhere near as binary as many of these articles seem to imply.
At least this article doesn't imply, as some similar ones I've read have, that introverts are the only really worthwhile people because they are Deep and Thoughtful whereas extraverts are frivolous flibbertigibbets.
(Um, is that how you spell flibbertigibbet?)
Well said. I think "introvert" is an excellent clickbait word, so lots and lots of terrible articles are written about them.
2015-05-31 01:35 pm (UTC)
I really appreciate your emphasis on certain actions as skill sets. Some people learn things about how to initiate social events, conversations, etc. young and/or easily and/or from readily available models. Others may have to learn those skills as adults, and seek out models. Thinking of them as skills that can be learned helps me better fill in my own skill gaps as an adult.
I think things can look natural or instinctive from the outside, when in fact they're highly learned. Or even from the inside--if you were 4 when a parent taught you a particular social rule, it may have just gotten integrated into your approach without fuss or labeling. But bringing it back to people's consciousness as a skillset looks good to me either way--the exhausted people who are the only ones who have a skillset can think about teaching it rather than being stuck as the only person who "is like that."
What makes the introvert-care articles even worse is that I have never seen an article on how to care for extraverts.
And I could have really used one, because there are aspects of extraverting that were completely non-obvious and counter-intuitive to me until nice extravert friends explained them to me.
Like, I wish someone had told me back in, oh, fourth or fifth grade, that 85% of the time, when adults ask you intrusive questions about your reading habits, hobbies, friends, family, school, and future plans, they are actually trying to be friendly, because they themselves enjoy having these conversations and assume you also feel validated by the interest of strangers and near-strangers. They are usually not trying to trip you up with questions that have a wrong answer for which they will shame you, nor gathering intelligence against which they will then measure everything you say on any future meeting in the hope of finding exploitable discrepancies.
I spent so much time wondering how they knew what to ask. For a while I was pretty much convinced that adults were precognitive, because the information they were asking for was so clearly useless to them now. The notion that they were stockpiling information about future rivals while those rivals were powerless not to answer, against some distant power struggle where it would matter deeply whether I could swim and if I had any younger siblings, admittedly seemed far-fetched. But the notion that they started these conversations for fun was simply inconceivable.
I agree thoroughly. I think one of the things that's going on here is that there is the assumption that extroversion is treated as normative in our culture--which it often is, but that doesn't mean it's well-understood from the outside. In analogy, Christianity is the dominant religion of most of the US, and yet many non-Christians would not have a good explanation for, "What is Pentecost, and why is it important to Christians?"
I didn't have quite so Machiavellian an explanation for small talk with children--which is weird, because I was a pretty Machiavellian small child (I may have told you the merry-go-round story)--but it didn't occur to me that it was not a tedious duty on both sides until fairly late.
Great post. Just [excising a ton of personal blather affirming it here] spot on.
I am kind of a classic introvert in that I recharge by being alone, or sometimes with just family. Being social wears me out. (By my third, or this year fourth, day at the Minicon reg table, our family Easter brunch, while a real event, is my excuse to leave Minicon by noon on Sunday. And the Dead Dog and Dessicated Dodo are not happening for me.)
The only ones on the list that apply to me are 4 and kind-of 9 (you can certainly call me for non-emergencies, but I far prefer text or email), and neither one comes from introversion.
I expect that #9
is true of many extroverts, too, though. They may want to stay at home and have people over--or they may want to stay at home and get stuff done that needs doing at home--or whatever. People sometimes want to stay home, and are allowed to say so.
I do think sometimes people need a little push to overcome inertia about something, or to overcome distaste for some preliminary barrier which is standing between them and something they will enjoy, so while I agree that "you came along and got me to have fun" is a VERY unhelpful narrative, I also thing that sometimes, for anything (and for any personality type), you do have to push through some initial stuff to get to something you'll like. Sort of like giving a book or a TV show a chance beyond the first five minutes.
Completely agree about sometimes tiredness just means tiredness, or no answer on the cell phone just means the battery's dead. Some things are just random and circumstantial. No one characteristic of a person governs their every action! Not their femaleness, not their degree of introversion, not their ethnic background, not the fact that they have a chronic illness.
And I really, really strongly agree about the skills thing.
I think you're right that a preliminary barrier to overcome can be pretty common, which makes the more toxic version of the meme harder to fight.
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This is perfect from top to bottom. I think JD (textbook introvert) doesn't even read these introvert articles because he doesn't like the infantilization OR the implication that his introversion is a problem that extroverts have to solve. (Doesn't stop me from trying, though...) ;)
I am, by anybody's standards, an extrovert. Furthermore, I'm one that's good at talking to people, usually even when the other person is not so good at it.
But I *hate* those introvert/extrovert lists, because they're full of such toxic crap, and nearly everybody has attributes of both personality types, and I mean I'm a writer, my job literally depends on me being left alone with the people in my head for hours, weeks, months at a time.
And it doesn't matter how much I enjoy people, I .always. dread going out/having a party/social situations. I make myself go, because I recognize the behaviour and I know I'll have fun if I do go, but it takes real effort to *go*, which is Anti-All-Those-Extrovert-Lists.
And no matter HOW MUCH I enjoy people, it's bloody tiring to go out and socialize. Perhaps unlike introverts, I can keep going for hours and days, even, if I have an audience, but I will crash just as damned hard as any stereotypically introverted person afterward, because social interaction is a lot of work.
*hops around frantically*! Thank you for this post! :)
Also, why am I not following you here. *fixes that* :)
Yeah, weird, we've known each other forever and never been on each other's friendslists? What were we thinking?
Anyway. Seriously. So much toxic crap, and on a topic where helping people understand each other might actually be helpful. Sigh. Bleh.
So...would I be ahead to not read that article, due to becoming angry as a result?
I'm not quite sure why there would be an industry of these; the original did a decent job.
I think you'll find that there are cheap knock-offs of lots of things that did a decent job in the original; see, for example, Tolkien.
I'm an introvert, and the only one on that list that I can 100% agree with is #9
1, 4, 7, and 8? If I'm annoyed because you did any of these things, it's not because I'm an introvert, it's because I have a day job and small children, and my free time at home is rare and precious.
2? I've had too many coworkers who I enjoyed interacting with every workday to buy that as a necessary part of introversion. Sure, I need recharge time, but I don't need to retreat to a hut in the backyard for 24 hours before I can face another person.
3? Yes, I'm someone who gets quieter and quieter the more people are in the conversation; it's not introversion, it's brain processing stuff. That doesn't mean that having more people along is automatically bad; heck, I might enjoy it, because it's *interesting* listening to all the side conversations.
5? No, really, it means I'm tired.
6? Actually, if it's a one-on-one conversation and I'm not saying anything at all, it's because I'm having a hard time getting a word in edgewise. If you're paying any attention to my conversational cues and giving me a reasonable opening, I'll ask you questions, give you another example, express opinions about what you've just said, and generally hold up my end of conversation.
An introvert generally needs more alone time than an extravert. Beyond that, mileage varies extensively.
I think that your comment on #6
can also run afoul of "extraverts aren't by definition always good at social interaction." I interrupt people all the time without meaning to; I honestly think they're done talking.
These days that is mostly only on the phone, because I have gotten better about slowing down and assessing cues, but I'm certain I used to do it a lot in conversation. (I think in my case it's more about regional speech patterns than intraversion/extraversion.)
I wonder whether the writers and intended audience of this list consider 'introvert' to mean 'perceived self to be the outgroup in high school'.
Probably that's a piece of it. I think that it's certainly a piece of wanting a clear excuse why other people should follow one's preferences rather than working out a social balance, and I'm afraid I see more of that in this article than actual tips for dealing with introverts.
"There are highly nonverbal extroverts who just want to go dancing and not have to talk all the time, or play golf or softball or whatever."
Thanks especially for this part. My absolute favorite extrovert activity is to ride public transit. So! Many! People! Who are doing their own thing. Close second favorite: sitting in crowded restaurants.
I mean, I'm talkative, but as I've gotten older, there are fewer in-depth extended conversations I find interesting, and I've gotten much worse at remembering personal details about most people, so small talk often feels like just setting myself up for future embarrassment and setting other people up for thinking I don't care about them, which is absolutely not true.
My absolute favorite extrovert activity is to ride public transit. So! Many! People! Who are doing their own thing. Close second favorite: sitting in crowded restaurants.
Ha! Oh, me too. I'm pretty extroverted, but sometimes this just means I want to be around other humans--not necessarily talk to them. I like the energy of having other people around. Maybe this is partly from being raised in a large family, but I find it comforting.
(These days I'm also getting so deaf that a gathering of more than 4-5 people cuts me out of the conversation because I can't keep up, too; so, smaller groups for actual socializing.)
Conversely, my wife the introvert (there are occasional days where she doesn't want to talk to me) is also usually the planner and executor of social activities. I'm an indecisive follower-type; she's a get-up-and-go, inspire/drag other people with her type. So the impetus for a lot of our social activities actually comes from the introvert...even though sometimes she's ready to go home before I am.
Here via linkings.
Thank you for this, the "introverts are delicate snowflakes and you extroverts need to look after them" meme so frustrating.
I've scored as both introverted and extroverted on things like MBTI, and currently lean toward extro, but one thing I've noticed is that general dispositions and test scores don't matter a much as the dynamic between people, and if one of those people is going to sit back and expect me to do all the work, then I am going to feel tired and "all peopled out" really quickly. Whereas if the dynamic is fluid and reciprocal, I will come away from that interaction feeling emotionally fantastic. Even if I'm physically tired and maybe in pain, due to health stuff.