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Introvert Fairy Tales
October 10, 2012 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Introvert Fairy Tales Once upon a time there was a woman who never lived in a castle, never married a prince, and always did all her own housework. She also never had paparazzi following her while she was on holidays so they could take topless pictures of her with a telephoto lens and distribute them for public consumption. So there was that.
posted by modernnomad (66 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fabulous.
posted by penguin pie at 12:15 PM on October 10, 2012


Not thrilled about the pulled one (why would I want to have someone in to do my housework, as an introvert?), but the others are great stuff.
posted by DU at 12:16 PM on October 10, 2012


"Once upon a time there was a young woman called Belle who fell in love with a library. Sure, there was a guy and a rose and a particularly talkative tea set, but mostly there were books. And they all lived happily ever after"

That's a winner right there.
posted by LMGM at 12:17 PM on October 10, 2012 [30 favorites]


The second act was a bit underdeveloped and I'm not seeing much of character development. Good use of pronouns, though! c+
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:18 PM on October 10, 2012


Once upon a time there was a young woman called Belle who fell in love with a library. Sure, there was a guy and a rose and a particularly talkative tea set, but mostly there were books. And they all lived happily ever after.
This fairy tale has been introvert-approved.
posted by mochapickle at 12:18 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ha!
posted by mochapickle at 12:18 PM on October 10, 2012


Somehow I just don't think an introvert would have dropped hardback books on someone's head. A more subtle approach, maybe. She was an engineer, so she could have just built a marvelous trapdoor that opened under him and whisked him away.
posted by blucevalo at 12:21 PM on October 10, 2012


She's up in a tower. Close the window for a couple of hours and the noisy extrovert will be distracted by something else shiny and leave.
posted by DU at 12:22 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


These all make me quietly sad. There is a sadness inherent in shutting the self off from others. I understand introversion and need a certain amount of alone, quiet time myself. And I don't want anyone to be someone they aren't.

But sometimes it seems like the isolation of the self can come about out of fear and overwhelm of others, when, for me at least, the company of others can be one of life's greatest joys and pleasures.

But perhaps I'm a bit more extroverted than the author.
posted by MythMaker at 12:25 PM on October 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Introversion comes in a lot of flavors. Or at least, a lot of people who don't seem to have much in common with me also call themselves introverts, as I do.

In short, as an introvert who used to work in bookstores, I have often fantasized about dropping hardbacks on people. "Dropping" is too passive, actually, for what I wanted to do sometimes to some people.
posted by rtha at 12:32 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ariel grew up on a research boat with her dad. She had a happy childhood, helping him in his work as a marine biologist. When she got older her father decided she needed to come out of her shell and have more interaction with people.

She was invited to a party and asked to dance. It didn’t go so well. She never really got her land legs for a start and decided that, all in all, dancing wasn’t really her cup of tea. Everyone else was making small talk. She didn’t say much. She had nothing to contribute on the subjects of reality TV and celebrity gossip. She would happily have spoken for hours about something of substance, but this continual babble was boring her witless.

She went back out on the boat and continued the family vocation. She still doesn’t talk much, but she has been published in a couple of peer reviewed journals.


It's missing the part where she obsessively updates her Prince Eric tumblr until 3 in the morning.
posted by The Whelk at 12:33 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


But sometimes it seems like the isolation of the self can come about out of fear and overwhelm of others, when, for me at least, the company of others can be one of life's greatest joys and pleasures.

I'm not scared of others. I like other people. I just want time away from them. I'm glad you get your greatest joys and pleasures and all your energy from others, but that's not a better way to be.

I liked this one:

Grumpy is vaguely jealous of Snow White’s new arrangement and is certain he’d have a different nickname if he got a bit of peace and quiet too. He has been seen hauling timber and construction tools to an undisclosed location.
posted by jeather at 12:35 PM on October 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


There is a sadness inherent in shutting the self off from others. I understand introversion

These two statements do not go well together like chocolate and peanut butter do.
posted by elizardbits at 12:36 PM on October 10, 2012 [52 favorites]


Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince. Many damsels seemed to be in distress and could use his help, but he was busy writing in his journal.
posted by xingcat at 12:49 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


So introverts are always female, generally dislikes men, people and prefers things to human connection. Probably has a magic wand somewhere.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:53 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


As someone who is not only an introvert but also a sometimes-misanthrope, there's a part of me that wants to move to a cabin deep in a forest somewhere, miles away from anyone, and be self-sufficient and never see another soul for the rest of my life.

Fortunately, there's a larger part of me that realizes that I like some human contact, and that I would quickly become lonely and depressed if I avoided everyone all the time, so I don't. Still, I think it's healthy to indulge my misanthropic side with daydreams and fantasies like that from time to time.

That's where the extreme degree of solitude achieved by the protragonists in some of these stories comes in: not something I'm likely to actually do, but something that's nice to fantasize about occasionally.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:59 PM on October 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Once upon a time there was Wall-E. And then there was a plant and it ruined everything.
posted by phunniemee at 1:00 PM on October 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Reminds me of something an old grad school friend came up with: fairy tales for twentysomethings.
the three little pigs only saw each other for holidays now and conversation was always a little awkward. then, usually after a few drinks, one would say, “remember that time with the wolf?” and they’d spend hours telling all the details of the story and laughing and feeling young again

posted by themadjuggler at 1:01 PM on October 10, 2012 [35 favorites]


So introverts are always female, generally dislikes men, people and prefers things to human connection. Probably has a magic wand somewhere.

If they exist only as a direct response to fairy tales they do.

Of course fairy tales aren't known for their realistic characters either.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:03 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


DU: "She's up in a tower. Close the window for a couple of hours and the noisy extrovert will be distracted by something else shiny and leave."

yeah to a whole new world.
posted by boo_radley at 1:05 PM on October 10, 2012


But sometimes it seems like the isolation of the self can come about out of fear and overwhelm of others, when, for me at least, the company of others can be one of life's greatest joys and pleasures.

Introversion is not social anxiety. It's possible to be an introvert and shy, but equally so to be a confident, but private person.
posted by bonehead at 1:08 PM on October 10, 2012 [12 favorites]


This is a good find. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:08 PM on October 10, 2012


Some days when I'm feeling extra cynical I think we should redefine extrovert as "someone who, through no fault of their own, is constitutionally incapable of understanding introverts."
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:10 PM on October 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


As someone who is not only an introvert but also a sometimes-misanthrope, there's a part of me that wants to move to a cabin deep in a forest somewhere, miles away from anyone, and be self-sufficient and never see another soul for the rest of my life.

Fortunately, there's a larger part of me that realizes that I like some human contact


So you lay out a trail of breadcrumbs leading to your cabin, obviously. Canonically once you are no longer in need of human contact I guess you have to eat them, though.
posted by elizardbits at 1:12 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some days when I'm feeling extra cynical I think we should redefine extrovert as "someone who, through no fault of their own, is constitutionally incapable of understanding introverts."

I would describe myself as an introvert, but these pieces and the "Caring for Your Introvert" piece make me think that there are introverts who believe that they are more special and thoughtful and more intellectual than people who aren't introverts. That Ariel tale is exactly what drives me insane about how introverts talk about themselves. Maybe it's defensiveness, but it reads as disdain. I don't need to be cared for or insulated from everyday life. I'm capable of balancing my needs with my commitments without having a flounce off because everyone else is a superficial phony who loves reality TV.
posted by gladly at 1:30 PM on October 10, 2012 [24 favorites]


(why would I want to have someone in to do my housework, as an introvert?)

Because introversion is orthogonal to laziness? Of course the best case is having them come in while you're at work anyway.
posted by jacalata at 1:44 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would describe myself as an introvert, but these pieces and the "Caring for Your Introvert" piece make me think that there are introverts who believe that they are more special and thoughtful and more intellectual than people who aren't introverts.

yeah, my girlfriend has accused me of this too and she has a point. If we introverts want people to stop thinking of us as just "shy" or suffering from "social anxiety", then we have to stop intimating that extroverts are merely "superficial" or otherwise without substance.
posted by modernnomad at 1:48 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Introvert: someone who is drained by contact with other people.

Extravert: someone who is energised by contact with other people.

Social anxiety: a state in which you're anxious about social mores, spending time with other people, etc.

Misanthropy: hatred of humankind.

Asociality: the lack of interest in spending time with other people.

Shyness: a milder form of social anxiety.

It's possible to display several of these ideas at the same time.

I'm an introvert with asocial tendencies from a long line of introverts with asocial tendencies. I spend large parts of my day alone, because I work retail*, dealing with lots of different people on a daily basis, each of whom drain a little bit of my energy without even trying. I need that time alone every day to recharge my batteries. It's the secondmost thing that is beneficial to my mental health, after a good night's sleep. I don't hate people. I don't (much) want to live in the middle of nowhere. I don't have a cache of guns in the local church tower. I just need some time alone every day, and I don't get why that's demonised by some individuals.

Growing up, I believed that I was somehow faulty for wanting to sit under some trees and just watch the wind move the leaves, rather than engage with other children. Teachers would question me about why I didn't want to play with the other children and at seven years of age, I didn't have the vocabulary to explain that my mind felt like it was made of lead shot after a day spent learning new things and then more time spent navigating the waters of social interaction with said mind.

I wish I'd had something like these books when I was a kid. Something to just let me know that actually, I wasn't faulty. The assumption that one is broken because one doesn't want to talk to another person is quite damaging. Nobody pathologises loneliness in quite the same fashion.

The catch is that even though I'm heavily introverted, I love to talk to and listen to people. When my mental batteries are full, I can get rather embarrassingly excited about long, convoluted conversations with people. Unfortunately, it seems that only other introverts are interested in the same kinds of conversations about the same kinds of things.

*I work in a book shop, and I love it. In my fantasies, though, I don't just stop at throwing hardbacks at people. I would sometimes like to knock the shelving units over, like in that film.
posted by Solomon at 1:58 PM on October 10, 2012 [19 favorites]


I would sometimes like to knock the shelving units over, like in that film.

A Clockwork Orange?
posted by Nomyte at 2:03 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Generally dislikes men, people and prefers things to human connection. Probably has a magic wand somewhere.
posted by Danf at 2:08 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great list, Solomon! But you left out sociopath and psychopath...
posted by Melismata at 2:10 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"yeah, my girlfriend has accused me of this too and she has a point. If we introverts want people to stop thinking of us as just "shy" or suffering from "social anxiety", then we have to stop intimating that extroverts are merely "superficial" or otherwise without substance."

Yeah, in the Ariel tale this made me crazy:

"Everyone else was making small talk. She didn’t say much. She had nothing to contribute on the subjects of reality TV and celebrity gossip. She would happily have spoken for hours about something of substance, but this continual babble was boring her witless."

Girl, nobody's stopping you from doing that! Sometimes it goes over like a lead balloon, but that happens to everybody. I'm sure there are places in this world where it is impossible to discuss topics of any substance because everyone you're surrounded by is a substance-free dingbat who only engages with the world through reality TV and celebrity gossip, but why is this the social circle of a marine biologist? Doesn't he hang out with, like, other professors and scientists? Aren't their kids overeducated too? (Although maybe there's an unwitting self-reveal here where it says she would have SPOKEN for hours about something of substance, not CONVERSED about it for hours. Maybe there's her problem.)

This also puts me a little bit in mind of the thread the other day on letting your teenaged self decide who you're always going to be. Lots of girls were told, as teenagers (often by other mean teenagers, sometimes by clueless adults), "You're bad at socializing. You're too weird/talkative/quiet/shrill. Nobody likes hanging out with you," and they've been telling themselves ever since, "Gosh, I'm terrible at socializing because I'm so shrill. I just won't do it anymore." Which is sad because, first, 99% of people aren't very good at socializing as teenagers, you gotta practice like at anything else; and second, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy if you never practice it; and third, chances are good that even if you spent 20 years living in a cabin by yourself eschewing all human contact and got no practice ever, you are a less-annoying human being and more interesting to interact with than you were as a teenager.

Okay, I should simmer down. Mostly they're amusing vignettes that make me go, "Ha ha, yeah, if I were the heroine I would have just taken the books and called it a day!" But a few are like grar.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:15 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think it was A Clockwork Orange. I don't ever recall seeing it. I want to say The Mummy, but I can't find the clip online. The character does something, then the shelves fall around the room in a horseshoe shape, like dominoes. Clunk clunk clunk. Ha ha, never again will you put Martina Cole in Crime. OK, maybe I'm a little bit misanthropic.

I think my favourite example of an introvert* in a film is Amelie. She goes about her life, doing her own little thing, and she's happy. I wish there were more films like that.

*Or so it would seem to me.
posted by Solomon at 2:24 PM on October 10, 2012


Although I'm not really a fan of reality tv, I am an introvert who enjoys talking about other kinds of low-quality tv. I would imagine there are actually introverts out there who like reality tv and enjoy using their social time to discuss it.
posted by jeather at 2:39 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like celebrity gossip. Mythologies for our time, people.

(I like this post a lot.)
posted by purpleclover at 3:00 PM on October 10, 2012


I would imagine there are actually introverts out there who like reality tv and enjoy using their social time to discuss it.

Hi.
posted by rtha at 3:08 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


there are introverts who believe that they are more special and thoughtful and more intellectual than people who aren't introverts.

I know for me, the first time I read "The Introvert Advantage" I felt both sad enough to cry, and elated enough to jump for joy. Sad because I realized I had spent a lot of time in my life trying to be something I wasn't, and feeling bad for it; elated because I finally understood a big part of myself, and that I was ok...I wasn't defective.

That's a pretty big moment, and I can see how it leads to some people feeling special. But after a long portion of life feeling like something is wrong with you, its a trap I understand even if I haven't (hopefully) gotten into it myself.

I heartily recommend both "The Introvert Advantage" and "Quiet" as good reads for introverts and those with introverts in their lives
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:15 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Once upon a time, the slipper fit, the curse was broken, he proposed, she accepted, and the people rejoiced because everyone was invited to the wedding - which meant a day off work and some free wine.
And perhaps the heavens rejoiced too, because the rains were rich and the sun was warm and there was such a bumper crop that year that the prince was able to reduce taxes AND have two extra rooms added to the castle, so that the prince and princess each had their own bedroom - all to themself - to sleep in every night, unless they didn't want to.
And they lived happily ever after.
posted by anonymisc at 3:25 PM on October 10, 2012


After Hanzel pushed the witch into the oven, he turned to Gretel and said, "She wouldn't shut up."
posted by digsrus at 3:26 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is there any robust evidence of a correlation between introversion and intelligence? A quick look at Google Scholar suggests not, but I'd be interested to know.

I must admit that the "Hey everyone I'm an introvert!" thing creeps me out quite a lot. I've said this on Metafilter before, but the conflation of the trait of introversion with a particular personality type and set of abilities seems theoretically suspect and empirically dubious. I am an introverted person, I tend to be stimulus avoiding and find a large amount of my gratification in my internal life, but I would find labelling myself "an introvert" rather odd and unsettling.
posted by howfar at 3:30 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not thrilled about the pulled one (why would I want to have someone in to do my housework, as an introvert?), but the others are great stuff.

I think it's because it's supposed to be a riff on Cinderella, but the rest of the story doesn't make much reference to it, so....

So you lay out a trail of breadcrumbs leading to your cabin, obviously. Canonically once you are no longer in need of human contact I guess you have to eat them, though.

If I ever went full hermit, out in the woods perfecting my baking skills would probably be how I'd do it, and if some obnoxious kids just wandered over and started defacing my house, I probably would eat them.
posted by kagredon at 3:35 PM on October 10, 2012


The character does something, then the shelves fall around the room in a horseshoe shape, like dominoes.

That is absolutely and 100% The Mummy and I will go watch it right now, hooray.
posted by elizardbits at 3:36 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Introvert: someone who is drained by contact with other people.

I'm starting to prefer the positive spin - someone who provides energy to others during social contact (and may be drained in the process).

Intuitively it seems a little off, in that the stereotype is that extroverts getting together = instant party, but anecdotally, when I think about social interactions between people I know, pairing the extroverts together doesn't work as well for them as pairing extroverts with introverts. Introverts seem more likely to provide the attention they thrive on, while other extroverts are more likely to unintentionally end up competing for attention from each other while not giving enough.
posted by anonymisc at 3:37 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I super-love celebrity gossip, not bashing it at all, do not want to give that impression. Reality TV is not my bag but if other people like it, that's cool with me.

Although my larger point is that most people who can ONLY engage with the world in one fashion ever are pretty tiresome, no matter what "vert" they are. Once I was stuck on an airplane next to this dude who managed forests for toothpick makers and talked at GREAT LENGTH on the EXTREMELY SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES underlying forest management and toothpick manufacture. FOR SIX HOURS. What actually started out pretty interesting made me want to leap out of the plane over the Atlantic by hour three.

I think some introverts confuse boorishness with introversion, specifically by telling themselves, "I only like to talk about subjects that are SUBSTANTIVE, not this babble of small talk. Amazingly, 'substantive topics' 100% coincides with 'the small handful of topics I find interesting and will hold forth on at great length.' Anyone who finds this boring is just shallow."

(I think the complementary extroverted boorish person confusion is when they think they're great raconteurs on the small handful of topics they find interesting, and feel no compunction about constantly redirecting the conversation back to themselves and their pet topics in order to hold forth.)

---

I'll try:

Once upon a time a princess who preferred many hours of quiet solitude and was oppressed by her endless public duties was sent by her mother to an arranged marriage in a far off-land. On the road, her duplicitous power-hungry maid switched bodies with her and the princess was made a goose girl upon arrival.

Which worked out pretty well, actually, since she could spend all day wandering around the empty pastures with her geese for company and then go home to the affectionate and laid-back farming family she boarded with, scratching whenever she wanted, while the maid ended up the subordinate and powerless wife in a traditional patriarchal monarchy who had to sit and look pretty while never scratching the ubiquitous lice and fleas that were biting her.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:37 PM on October 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


She turned me into a newt!

I was cool with that because people left me alone.
posted by tommasz at 3:41 PM on October 10, 2012


riffing on tommasz

She finally kissed the frog, and instantly it turned into a handsome prince!
He swept her into his strong embrace, she gazed into his eyes, and they kissed deeply.
Which turned him back into a frog!
Quickly they kissed again to turn him back into a prince.
Soon they were married, and as a wedding gift, the wise woman told them of a way to break the curse.

But they decided to leave the curse in place. Whenever life would get too stressful, a quick peck on a cheek was a lovely way to each get some relaxing peace and quiet.
And they had figured out other places to kiss that didn't trigger the curse.
posted by anonymisc at 3:50 PM on October 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


There is a sadness inherent in shutting the self off from others.

No there isn't.

I understand introversion and need a certain amount of alone, quiet time myself.

That's not introversion.

But sometimes it seems like the isolation of the self can come about out of fear and overwhelm of others...

"Sometimes" indeed. Again, not introversion.

...when, for me at least, the company of others can be one of life's greatest joys and pleasures.

One of my working definitions of an extrovert is someone who forces others to join in their fun. This statement clearly labels you by that definition.
posted by DU at 4:06 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was once a guy called Solomon an introverted person, who was locked in a very tall tower. It had a magical box that would transport them up and down, so they didn't mind too much that it was sometimes a bit of a jaunt to see other people. They also had a magic talking mirror that would come to life when they wanted some company but there was nobody around to discuss whatever oh-so-deep-and-important thoughts they were having. This person died in a state of sheer bliss.

I'm suddenly reminded of this book.

Also, a trait related to introversion is being an HSP.
posted by Solomon at 4:23 PM on October 10, 2012


One of my working definitions of an extrovert is someone who forces others to join in their fun.

Oh do give over. One of my working definitions of a dickhead is someone who forces complicated people into simple labelled boxes.
posted by howfar at 4:26 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


someone who forces complicated people into simple labelled boxes.

Eh. Without broad categories there's nothing to talk about at all. Might as well all go home.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:35 PM on October 10, 2012


why would I want to have someone in to do my housework, as an introvert?

I would like to have someone in to do my housework so I can spend more time reading.
posted by Zed at 4:39 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So introverts are always female,

It's CinderELLA not CinderFELLA, amirite?

----

Cinderella turned up at the ball wearing some comfy trainers, but quickly got bored and went to look at the moon by the river instead. The next day, the Prince married the daughter of some nouveau riche party suppliers and they were by all accounts moderately happy. Cinderella wrote some fan-fiction, changed the names, and became incredibly rich, but still wore trainers all the time.
posted by Sparx at 4:58 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Introvert: someone who is drained by contact with other people.

I'm starting to prefer the positive spin - someone who provides energy to others during social contact (and may be drained in the process).

Intuitively it seems a little off, in that the stereotype is that extroverts getting together = instant party, but anecdotally, when I think about social interactions between people I know, pairing the extroverts together doesn't work as well for them as pairing extroverts with introverts. Introverts seem more likely to provide the attention they thrive on, while other extroverts are more likely to unintentionally end up competing for attention from each other while not giving enough.
posted by anonymisc at 3:37 PM on 10/10
[+] [!]

I disagree with you on just about every point you made. I think breaking the intro/extro thing into energy givers and takers is problematic for several reasons. Not the least is that it doesn't fit into any of the research and current history of the subject.
But if we're speaking anecdotally, I'd say I've only ever met one (and a half) introverts that have ever added to the "energy" of the situation. Not saying the others take it, either. That's not really an accurate description. More like the introverts are a stable, neutral presence in the exchange.
Also, as far as competing for attention, I think you're confusing extroverts with attention hogs. That, and a combo of poorly mixed personalities. When you get extroverts together that work well, its less a brawl for the spotlight, and more like a really awesome game of energy pong.
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:37 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


People are really invested in this simplistic binary, aren't they?
posted by Nomyte at 7:08 PM on October 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


It is one of life's great ironies to me that introverts freakin' love to talk about Being Introverts.

* I am an introvert.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:36 PM on October 10, 2012


When you get extroverts together that work well, its less a brawl for the spotlight, and more like a really awesome game of energy pong.

You say extroverts, but your statement is equally true of introverts. Perhaps the better word in this statement would be "people".
posted by anonymisc at 7:47 PM on October 10, 2012


People are really invested in this simplistic binary, aren't they?

I'm not seeing it. It seems like it's pretty intuitively understood by most that these descriptors label directions on a line rather than binary states. Same way as dark/light skin isn't binary, or an axis on the political compass.
posted by anonymisc at 8:05 PM on October 10, 2012


I'm so introverted I never even comment on metafilter.
posted by misfish at 8:06 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


When you get extroverts together that work well, its less a brawl for the spotlight, and more like a really awesome game of energy pong.
You say extroverts, but your statement is equally true of introverts.


Wow. You really really really use the word introvert differently than I do.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:54 PM on October 10, 2012


Once upon a time there was a princess who discovered a magical land of blue and green. It let her work out her extroverted side online while she sat in her apartment alone drinking chocolate milk and not wearing any pants.

And everyone lived happily ever after.
posted by phunniemee at 5:54 AM on October 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


It seems like it's pretty intuitively understood by most that these descriptors label directions on a line rather than binary states.

But still predicated on the binary opposition between introvert and extrovert. Good/evil, for example is also a binary opposition, despite the recognition that there are distinctions of degree. Human personality, like everything else, is complex. Using a single measure of a single trait as the basic definition of a personality is a gross misrepresentation. It is as foolish, although not as offensive, as treating the dark/light skin continuum as being the basic determinator of ethnic and cultural identity.

We just can't usefully or interestingly talk about personality in terms of the simple distinction many people who find comfort in identifying with introversion seem to prefer.
posted by howfar at 7:56 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


People are really invested in this simplistic binary, aren't they?

There are two kinds of people: those who reduce everything to a simplistic binary, and those who don't.
posted by Foosnark at 9:05 AM on October 11, 2012


There are actually three kinds of people. Those who can count and those who can't.
posted by howfar at 9:08 AM on October 11, 2012


There are 10 kinds of people, the ones who count in binary and please just shoot me now.
posted by Nomyte at 9:11 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


And from my perspective the "intro/extra" thing is definitely taken as a very comfortable binary by most laypeople. Most people in this thread have readily identified themselves as either one or the other. The only time it seems to become a matter of degree is when someone says "I'm a huge introvert."

Think about it: we don't even have a common word for someone in the middle of this presumed scale. No one's a "mesovert."

As a comparison, take height. You can be of medium height, or a little shorter than average, or very tall, or whatever you like. Few people are going to ask if you are a short or a tall.

Behavior and personality vary in all sorts of ways, and I'm sure there's something there with this introversion/extraversion axis (to use a slightly technical term, I think it has "construct validity"). But a lot of people seem to fixate on the "face validity" of the distinction, kind of like they fixate on being a Virgo, and treat it as some kind of stable and fundamental root of their entire being.
posted by Nomyte at 9:22 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


You say extroverts, but your statement is equally true of introverts.

Wow. You really really really use the word introvert differently than I do.


I think it's pretty fundamental to the idea that introvert doesn't mean dislike of social interaction, or shyness, or any of those other things, but simply that there is "energy" being expended during social interactions that is easiest recharged by alone-time.
Introverts can be (and often are) super energetic in social interactions, and/or love being social, and/or look forward to it, and/or are charasmatic and engaging, etc etc. But time alone to recharge is needed.
posted by anonymisc at 4:37 PM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


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