Extraversion is a privilege

Posted: June 15, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

So, in between perusing listicles of cats that have gotten stuck in things and of the worst things about being a person who sweats all the time during summer, I came across a list of the worst things about being an extrovert. Know which item they missed? The regular bullying of introverts about their energy orientation, telling them to “get a life”, that they’re loners, nerds, that they’ll die alone, or frigid, or any number of similarly dumb things. Because that’s definitely far and away the worst thing about extraversion.

The author of that article, while I’m sure they have many valid points about the downsides of extraversion and the childishness or at least over-simplification of counter-stereotypes about extraverts, could have easily left off their passive-aggressive closer about how “introverts aren’t better, it’s about celebrating your personality type”. (protip: introversion and extraversion aren’t personality types. They’re orientations for the gathering of mental energy, which is one of five dimensions of personality) The author seems to miss the whole reason for the recent spate of articles, comics, books, blogs, and so forth explaining introversion and how it can be great: That introverts are a minority of the population, (around 25%) are not well-understood by extroverts, who rarely even know what an extrovert is or identify with the word, and their energy orientation is maligned by many common attitudes.

Introverts post this content not to dig at extroverts, but because we want people to understand us better, and we occasionally need reminding how who we are is a good thing amongst the put-downs and misunderstanding. I’m not claiming introversion has it anywhere near as bad as any other oppressed group, but there are major awareness issues for those of us with more than a mild orientation towards introversion.

That’s why you’re now seeing pictures explaining the concept of personal space, and how letting you into it is a bigger deal for introverts, the methaphor that introverts run on batteries during social occasions and extroverts run on batteries during intellectual occasions, and the explanations of what it feels like to us to be over-stimulated. (A phenomenon that’s probably a lot rarer for extroverts, who have a wide variety of ways to function in society that allow them to avoid the deeper introspective thought that exhausts and overloads them, as opposed to the broader, social type that’s everywhere and frequently overloads even comparatively moderate introverts) Think of these as the equivalents of infographics for men about how not to behave like a stalker: they’re not attacks. They’re PSAs about how to behave in a way that is respectful of people with different problems than yourself, and a peaceful nudge towards behaviour that will allow us to be friends.


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