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Please read and understand…

After being to a wedding this weekend, I must confess that I have had enough of dealing with people for a little while. I am not the world’s greatest social butterfly.

Ann Althouse points to a classic article that helps for dealing with people like me, one that I deeply wish I could print out and send to most of my family members. I would highlight this passage in particular:

Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say “Hell is other people at breakfast.” Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Quite so. All things in moderation is my motto.

We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say “I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.”

25 comments to Please read and understand…

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I’ve heard it said that the difference between introverts and extroverts is how ‘energised’ they are when in social situations. Which is what the author of the article said.

    I’m right on the straddle between E and I on the MBTI. My personal ratio is about 1 hour alone for every 2 hours of socialising. But I know of some gregarious folk who never seem to need any down time at all. So in many ways, I am still more introverted than extroverted.

    And I really hate to repeat myself.

  • What’s stopping you from printing the article out and sending it to them… 🙂

  • Scott, join the club! Here’s an article on introversion you might find interesting: http://cfge.wm.edu/documents/Introversion.html

  • “I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.”
    I’m going to use that sometime!

  • My friend with a counselling psychology Ph.D (who is a strong extrovert) said that introverts and extroverts “recharge” differently. I am a strong introvert and I agree with Scott in that I am not especially shy and I do enjoy social situations. But I can cope with only so much time in groups before I need to recharge with time alone. Wheras extroverts can cope with only so much time alone before they need to recharge with time in groups. I can spend long periods in solitude without getting antsy and there is little I like more than an empty house.

  • I liked the article Icescribe! Looking back at school that narrative fits really well.

  • Oh… a theory of my own. In the medium of the internet, extroverts and introverts switch roles.

  • guy herbert

    Yes; and us shy people are not necessarily introverts either. It is just that shyness works better for introverts. They are not as crippled by it, because their interests don’t involve other people so much.

  • M4-10: not so sure. I am more or less the same in both worlds (more of an introvert than an extrovert).

    The thing is that on the Net you can “hang around” other people, but you have almost total control over how much you expose yourself to others. You can “listen” in on “conversations” without uttering a single word, and thus without being noticed, or you can chatter to your heart’s content: it is mostly up to you. You can start or stop “talking” pretty much whenever you feel like it. This kind of socializing is quite different from the physical world, and it affords intraverts the benefits of socializing without the side effects they usually dread.

  • Joshua

    Isn’t the point about introverts supposed to be that they don’t “dread” social contact – it just wearies them?

    I have no doubt that the introvert/extrovert distinction is psychologically useful, but in many cases I think the “introvert” label is used as an excuse by people who do have social adjustment problems to avoid contact. It is these people who suddenly become “extroverts” on the web – and for exactly the reasons you say. So I think M4-10 has a point.

    I spent a lot of time thinking that I was an “introvert” as a kid, but then grew up to realize that I just don’t relate to certain kinds of people. Put me in the right company and I’ll talk your head off. Put me in the wrong comapny and I”m awkward and shy. I don’t know where that leaves me on this scale – but I suspect it leaves the scale somewhat short of the mark.

  • Luniversal

    One of life’s two great truths is that weddings are unexpectedly depressing affairs.

    The other is that funerals are never as depressing as you fear.

  • John Rippengal

    That aside about not saying anything at breakfast caught my eye. Is silence at that meal just for introverts?
    It reminds me of our bachelor mess in Ascension Island towards the end of the war. It was very formal – bumfreezers and black tie for dinner always. But breakfast had a special ritual. You went to the dining room but did not enter but sat on the verandah outside. There after a little while you would be approached by the head waiter (the butler) whose name was Maggott. (This is absolutely true). He enquired about what you wanted for breakfast and you told him and he disappeared.
    After about ten minutes he would return and announce “your breakfast is served”. You could then enter the dining room.
    The whole exercise ensured that not a single word was ever spoken durig this meal.

  • My personal recharge time is in larger blocks. I need about 3-4 years of cave dwelling for 1-2 years of social contact.

    Of course, by then I need a whole bunch of new friends, since my original friends often have moved on to new venues, jobs, continents, etc.

  • HJHJ

    Conversely, many extroverts are shy.

    The example that most ereadily springs to mind is Michael Bentine – definitely an extrovert, but one who wrote a book, I believe, on his attempts to overcome chronic shyness.

  • I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.”

    Shush makes an excellent euphemism for STFU.

  • Robert

    Sometimes I’m never sure if I’m introverted, shy, or too dumb to get a proper handle on social customs. All three? DOH! I do enjoy time alone. When I was in junior high and high school my shyness was almost crippling and will, on occasion, manifest itself today. To top things off, people in groups baffle me to no end. Interacting with people one on one is one thing, interacting with a “pack” is something else entirely as individual personalities change and everyone in said pack seems to become a raging asshole jockeying for some kind of imaginary social position.

    Um, I think I oughtta stop there before I really start to sound like a bitter old man (and I’m only 25!). I do enjoy being with my friends (when they don’t piss me off) and going out with them and the like (not that I see them often these days admittedly) but the act of going out in an attempt to meet new people is something I’ve never been too keen on. I’d rather just be with a few people I’ve known for a long time.

  • I cannot recharge with other people around.

    Sometimes I come home, shut the front door and lean back against it. Safe. Silence. I live so much in my head and NEED to. I can be thrown off my mental stride by just having someone moving in the house.

    I’ve often thought the way everyone is quiet on the tube and buses means there is a real understanding and respect for mental processes in this country.

    I’m a happy immigrant, always bumping into things about England that are just so right.

  • “I never liked any of you sonsofbitches, but I always wished I could have.

  • MarkE

    If only my old teacher had read this – like too many teachers he thought I needed to be “more sociable”, and like too many adolescents I was a sad conformist then. I spent the entire sixth form trying to be someone else, and ended up exhausted and free of A levels. It took a couple of dead end jobs to motivate me into evening classes and a qualification. Now I’m working to avoid the same fate for my daughter, so nothing’s changed, but the school have a link to this article, and she has my support in her “rebellion”.

  • I just discovered that I was one, and it answers to a lot of my interrogations about why I do not always in a heavy social context. Thank you for opening my eyes.

  • Richard Easbey

    do I HAVE to call myself an introvert now? I sort of liked being thought of as a misanthrope….

  • Why don’t all the introverts get together and have a party and talk to each other about protecting their rights not to … oh.

  • montster

    I get tired of people demanding interaction.
    I am thinking and planning and learning and up comes someone who expects entertainment or an audience. And they don’t understand how I can be *busy* and not interested in their hangnails or whatever.


  • Could it be that introverts are introverts because they are so unlike the majority of people they run across day to day? Consider what Virginia Postrel had to say: “On the Internet, people on the tails of the bell curve can find one another.” Once you find the right people, being with them could be the joy that being with the wrong people never was.