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"it's not my existence that is the problem here"
December 3, 2012 9:13 AM   Subscribe


 
We introverts also love empty toilet paper tubes, so save them for us.
posted by orme at 9:27 AM on December 3, 2012 [32 favorites]


I'm nodding as hard as I can, that'll make everyone else in the world read that comic, right?
posted by DU at 9:31 AM on December 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


So this comic repeats the model of introversion made popular in Jonathan Rauch's famous essay, Caring for your introvert: introverts are people for whom social interaction, especially in groups, requires the expenditure of precious "energy," and when the reservoir of energy is depleted, introverts need to spend some quiet time alone to recover.

As a somewhat introverted person, I sometimes feel like this model fits me. But does it have any scientific validation? Is this in some sense what it's "really" about to be "introverted" (which means, I suppose, to be the kind of person who scores a certain way on certain psychological inventories)? To what extent does this folk theory line up with actual psychological science?
posted by grobstein at 9:34 AM on December 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


For the record, I do not see extroverts as obnoxious predators. Unless they are being jerks. But mostly I don't socialize with jerks.
posted by rtha at 9:36 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe this isn't for me, because I don't self identify as either an introvert or extrovert, (although I'm a little more introverted than average, I think), but I find it odd to treat a group of people like they're some strange foreign species that requires special rules for interaction simply because they have a slightly different personality profile than you.

I get that it's trying to be helpful and the author is almost certainly introverted himself, but it still feels weird to me. Introverts are just people and the general "don't be a jackass, respect personal space and don't push people into doing things when they don't want to" rules would seem to apply to everyone.

To be perfectly honest I have a problem with introvert and extrovert as terms because they seem to be essentializing one specific personality trait and not accounting for the fact that personalities vary as widely as you can imagine. People are certainly more introverted or more extroverted, but that's really a continuum rather than distinct identities.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2012 [17 favorites]


Can we get a subcomic on how to differentiate a "true introvert" from someone who is withdrawn?

Also, I don't know about that "drawing energy" stuff, is that theory state of the art in modern psychology or some kind of pop idea? My completely unschooled theory, with no special training in psychology to back it up, is that some people have anxiety issues that makes even minor interactions much more high stakes.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2012


I sometimes think the reason I am introverted is because it is socially unacceptable to just lie down in public.
posted by srboisvert at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2012 [28 favorites]


As a somewhat introverted person, I sometimes feel like this model fits me. But does it have any scientific validation? Is this in some sense what it's "really" about to be "introverted" (which means, I suppose, to be the kind of person who scores a certain way on certain psychological inventories)? To what extent does this folk theory line up with actual psychological science?

My impression in terms of this comic and Rauch's essay is that they're not really trying to convey a model that has any particular scientific rigor behind it - they are both attempts to explain the experience of introversion to people who might not have an intuitive understanding of it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:44 AM on December 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


Psychology isn't even in a state where it can accurately describe personality types or classify individuals into those types unambiguously, let alone is there any concept like "energy" going on yet. So no, it isn't scientific. But that doesn't mean it's unscientific. It's pre-scientific.
posted by DU at 9:45 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


For the record. I self identify as "reserved". I feel it properly conveys that my true milieu is enjoying the pleasure of my own company, with a novel, sipping something out of a snifter, in front a nice low fire in a country manor. Not hiding from people in some sort of nerd-hovel, worrying about my energy levels.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:47 AM on December 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


The "hiss..." inside the hamster ball is HOW I FEEL ALL THE TIME RICK.
posted by The otter lady at 9:47 AM on December 3, 2012 [31 favorites]


My impression in terms of this comic and Rauch's essay is that they're not really trying to convey a model that has any particular scientific rigor behind it - they are both attempts to explain the experience of introversion to people who might not have an intuitive understanding of it.

Well okay, but that internal experience can be cashed out in scientific terms to some extent. You could test the idea that social interaction "depletes" some mental resource for introverts, making further interaction or perhaps other tasks more difficult. There is a lot of important work in psychology examining similar theories, for example the idea that the exercise of "willpower" depletes a limited resource.

So the question I'm trying to ask is, are there experiments that try to test approximations of this model?
posted by grobstein at 9:48 AM on December 3, 2012


Psychology isn't even in a state where it can accurately describe personality types or classify individuals into those types unambiguously, let alone is there any concept like "energy" going on yet. So no, it isn't scientific. But that doesn't mean it's unscientific. It's pre-scientific.

I agree that psychology has a lot of holes in it. But there are models of personality (e.g. the "big five" traits) that are believed to be somewhat stable, and are widely used in psychology. There are theories in psychology that have been experimentally validated to some extent that employ concepts not unlike the "energy" described in the folk theory of introversion. The example I have in mind is the "ego depletion" model of self-regulation.

So it seems to me that the folk model of introversion is not the kind of thing that it's just unfeasible to study scientifically. It could be done, or anyway approximately done. Has it been done?
posted by grobstein at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2012


Hisss!

Pretty much sums up my experience. Plus, I (like many introverts) can do things that absolutely terrify some of my extroverted friends. Things like: spend an entire week, alone.
posted by mrgoat at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2012 [37 favorites]


There isn't really any strong evidence for it in psychology that I know of but there is a theoretical model of ego depletion used with will power that is currently a bit faddish (but lacking any real evidence for the existence of the components of the model ) which resembles the kind of battery model of personal resources that contemporary lay explanations of introversion use.

Also, as a general caution, when looking at the psych literature it is extremely important to pay attention to the effect sizes. Statistically significant experimental differences can often be so small that any real world effect is often not even noticeable. The kind of result that would explain the differences between introverts and extroverts should show a massive effect size.

Psychology isn't even in a state where it can accurately describe personality types or classify individuals into those types unambiguously, let alone is there any concept like "energy" going on yet. So no, it isn't scientific. But that doesn't mean it's unscientific. It's pre-scientific.

This is just flat out wrong and a complete misunderstanding of all science not just psychology.
posted by srboisvert at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


they are both attempts to explain the experience of introversion to people who might not have an intuitive understanding of it.

I agree it is good practical advice. I just object to adding pseudo-scientific explanations involving energy levels.

I suppose I just expect too much from deviantart.com comics. I'll go back to looking at pics of grumpy cat. She is just so grumpy!
posted by Ad hominem at 9:53 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I definitely feel the energy suck from being social. If I have to give a presentation or talk, it takes me hours to recover. I volunteer as a tour guide for the holiday christmas tours through our neighborhood and I've come back from a three hour tour and passed out on the couch sitting up and it's not like three hours of walking exhausted me, it's three hours of talking and smiling and being friendly that knocks me out.
posted by octothorpe at 9:55 AM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the problem whenever discussing introversion is the tendency of extroverts to claim "I'm just like that too!" because they're extroverts and never shut up and will say anything to keep the conversation going.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:01 AM on December 3, 2012 [49 favorites]


So this 'withdrawn' thing is some other category, right? Where's my 2-minute web comic on understanding the withdrawn?
posted by DarkForest at 10:12 AM on December 3, 2012


I am an introvert and always nod along with these "Hey extroverts: introverts like being left alone" things, but I wish someone would come up with one that didn't frame it in "Introverts are special snowflakes and extroverts are clueless and overbearing" terms.
posted by usonian at 10:13 AM on December 3, 2012 [30 favorites]


Psychology isn't even in a state where it can accurately describe personality types

Indeed! The state of the art in psychology doesn't use types; people get scores on various continuous dimensions. That's because personality has been extensively studied by people I call "scientists" engaging in what I call "science", who, after observing that empirically-derived personality variables appear to be continuous and unimodal, have concluded that discrete types are not particularly useful models.
posted by Jpfed at 10:16 AM on December 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think the best way to think of this idea about introversion is that it is a metaphor that many people who self-identify as introverts find helpful for understanding themselves. It isn't science, and doesn't have any corresponding science, and most importantly, is not a theory that makes real predictions about people.

I think the energy flow/recharge metaphor for (some varieties of) introversion is at its most problematic when people use it to trap themselves in a very special box (see: the stupid "caring for your introvert" article, which as an introvert, I found frustratingly unpleasant). I don't believe that this metaphor is definitional in any sense, including scientific, but a lot of people I've encountered who find it useful, elevate it to that level, and use it to trap themselves by artificially defining limits.
posted by advil at 10:20 AM on December 3, 2012


Same here, octothorpe. Even in college I was always the one starting "chill-out rooms" at parties, for the people who wanted to just sit and chat in a smaller and quieter room. People either stayed put or would drift in and out as energy waxed and waned.

Usonian, I wonder if the "pet store fish" model would work for you as opposed to the "hamster ball", because that's how I am in groups. When you get a fish from a pet store and they give it to you in the baggie, they tell you NOT to just dump the whole thing into your fish tank when you get home because that'd be an environmental shock. Instead - you first float the whole sealed-up baggie in the firsh tank for about a half hour, then you open the baggie and let a little of the tank water in and close the baggie up and let it float again for another half hour. Then you do it again and let it float another half hour. And you keep doing that over the course of the next couple hours, by which time your new fish has finally acclimated to the water in your tank; then you let it go into your tank.

I feel like I do that when I'm in groups as well -- rather than jumping into the middle of the group all "hi everyone!" right away, I'll sort of hover around one person who seems friendly, or one spot that seems interesting. As I feel more comfortable I'll circulate a little more, and then a little more, and then I'm fine. Everyone coming at me all at once right away is information overload; I need to acclimate myself to the room.

That doesn't assume "special snowflake" or "clueless and overbearing", I don't think. (Especially since it ain't just angelfish that you need to do this for - even the two-for-a-buck goldfish need you to do this.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


....and by "firsh tank" of course I mean "fish tank." (dammit.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:32 AM on December 3, 2012


The hole I see in the whole energy depletion is that, as an introvert, I do usually feel depleted after interacting with people, but there are certain people, the ones I can basically say anything to without fear of judgement, that DO energize me and with whom I could talk all day without getting tired. They are few and far between and basically like gold to me, but they do exist. My husband, for instance, thinks O talk too much - something I never hear out in the wider world. I'm sure I'm not the only one for whom this is true.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:33 AM on December 3, 2012 [31 favorites]


Speaking as an introverted person, I think that comic does a good job of explaining how I feel about social interaction. But...do extroverted people really care? I just have trouble visualizing the extroverted people I know reading through "Caring for your introvert", sitting for a while in contemplative thought, and then thinking "So that's why Paul never wants go out for drinks after work! And this whole time I just thought he was an aloof, arrogant, stand-offish ass! I'm going to modify the way I behave around him, and make sure I'm not infringing too much on his me-time!"
posted by pravit at 10:35 AM on December 3, 2012 [9 favorites]




So true, pravit, at the same time we introverts spend lifetimes and thousands of dollars in therapy to accommodate the extroverts.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:37 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


but there are certain people, the ones I can basically say anything to without fear of judgement, that DO energize me and with whom I could talk all day without getting tired.

That's a good way to put it; but I'd say it's not that I fear judgement, but that I want to know that I will be judged fairly. I value my friends who can say "GaP, you are full of it." Then I have warning that I might have a response like that from someone I don't trust as much.

Also, there are a lot of people I enjoy individually who are hard to deal with as a group. There is too much going on, and I feel like I owe everyone a bit of my attention, and that is exhausting. I guess, along with introversion, I have a high opinion of myself.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:39 AM on December 3, 2012


The hole I see in the whole energy depletion is that, as an introvert, I do usually feel depleted after interacting with people, but there are certain people, the ones I can basically say anything to without fear of judgement, that DO energize me and with whom I could talk all day without getting tired. They are few and far between and basically like gold to me, but they do exist. I'm sure I'm not the only one for whom this is true.

This! I was trying to put that exact same thought into words.

It's almost like being one of those cars that only takes premium gas, for no discernible reason, while all the other cars happily take regular.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 10:40 AM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


On second thought, extroverted people don't even need to read that whole comic. If they just learn one simple rule, my life up to now would've been 20% better: Any time you want to say "oh come on, it'll be fun!", don't.
posted by DU at 10:43 AM on December 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


Please don't take your psychology from DeviantArt.
posted by zscore at 10:46 AM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can appreciate what this comic's trying to convey, especially the part about the differences between how extroverts and introverts process the energy of social interactions, and how introverts need time to recharge after social encounters.

But the ideas actually illustrated here (leave aside the text) are that the introvert lives in a bubble (excuse me: hamster ball, even better), is a special, prickly fragile snowflake, will hiss and lash out at you like a cat with claws unsheathed if cornered, and will only deign to have social contact with you ("you" being the extrovert) if you treat him in exactly the specified manner. And even then, he'll just sit down coldly next to you and do whatever he wants to do (like bury his head in a book) without any effort at reciprocating your effort at contact. I'm an introvert, and that's not how I interact (or at least it's not how I've interacted since I was in my early 20s). Nor is it how I want extroverts to think I interact. I mean, if I were an extrovert and came across this my reaction would be, "Hell, why even bother?"
posted by blucevalo at 10:47 AM on December 3, 2012 [19 favorites]


Or I guess what I'm trying to say is, most extroverted people I know are aware that some people are introverted and need alone time, but rather than just accepting it as a human difference, they usually view it as a negative trait that needs to be fixed.

but there are certain people, the ones I can basically say anything to without fear of judgement, that DO energize me and with whom I could talk all day without getting tired.

Me too. They're either people who I can spend hours with sitting in silence as we ride a train or read our phones, or people who will 100% say whatever comes into their mind, no matter how socially unacceptable or awkward or mean it is. I like it when everything is laid bare and I know we're on the same page. I think it's really the fear of secret judgement for me, the feeling of talking to someone and thinking that they're probably thinking that I'm a boring loser and getting trapped in a mental feedback loop.
posted by pravit at 10:47 AM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


The hole I see in the whole energy depletion is that, as an introvert, I do usually feel depleted after interacting with people, but there are certain people, the ones I can basically say anything to without fear of judgement, that DO energize me and with whom I could talk all day without getting tired. They are few and far between and basically like gold to me, but they do exist. I'm sure I'm not the only one for whom this is true.

That is why I believe it stems from anxiety issues. I think some people work much much harder during many interactions due to anxiety.

It also explains why some interoverts suddenly become extroverts when inhibitions are lowered.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:48 AM on December 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think Bulgaroktonos is right:

To be perfectly honest I have a problem with introvert and extrovert as terms because they seem to be essentializing one specific personality trait and not accounting for the fact that personalities vary as widely as you can imagine. People are certainly more introverted or more extroverted, but that's really a continuum rather than distinct identities.

This tendency I see online for self-identified introverts (and I would count myself among those) to discuss themselves as if they were a different species is odd. It often seems to devolve into silly self-congratulation where extroverts are discussed as, to use rtha's term, "obnoxious predators", and introverts are thoughtful and reflective. But extroverts aren't all or even mostly dumb jocks or "bros" and introverts aren't all misunderstood poets and geniuses. They're just personality tendencies that say nothing about the intelligence or compassion of a person, yet in these discussions they are often conflated with such.

I also often see people using introversion as an excuse for poor social skills, but social skills are skills. They must be practiced and improved on, just as you would work on being better at chess. It might be easier or harder for any individual (I myself had to work hard on becoming comfortable enough to even go to social events), but a tendency to introversion is not a pass on being able to handle oneself socially. Too often I see "I'm an introvert" used a defense for "I am socially inept".

This comic with its depiction of introverts as strange and delicate creatures who must be handled with care only seems to reinforce these more negative tendencies.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:49 AM on December 3, 2012 [16 favorites]


And although I think, on the whole, extroverts don't give a crap about accommodating introverts, there is the occasional introvert, who is usually an ultra-extrovert, who somehow doesn't make you feel bad about being an introvert and seems to like you regardless. Those people rule and have been some of my best friends in life. Conversely, one of the worst things about being an introvert for me, is how hard it is to make friends of other introverts. I think we have the same prejudices toward each other that extroverts do.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:55 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not my term! I stole it from the comic!

Most intro/extro types share far more traits than not. Each may be kind of shy; each may get anxious ahead of some kinds of social gatherings; each may feel self-conscious in front of people they don't know well. And even extroverts need alone time, most of them. They just don't need as much as those of us who need more.

If you saw me at a meetup, you'd probably not guess that I'm more on the introvert end of things. I get shy sometimes and sometimes I get kind "eek" when I have to go to a thing where I won't know anyone, but I bet those things are at least sometimes true for those of you who are way more extroverted than I am.

To me, the main difference is that people who are more extroverted than I seem happy - or at least, have a higher tolerance - to, say, have drinks with friends on Monday and then go to the after-work thing on Tuesday and get together with SoandSo on Wednesday and go to rehearsal on Thursday and then Friday night is friend's birthday party and....Me, I'm done by Tuesday and don't want to do any more social things for several days. If I really have to, I can, and will, but then, man - I don't want to see anybody. I don't even want to look in the mirror.

I love people. But in small doses spaced far apart.
posted by rtha at 11:11 AM on December 3, 2012 [18 favorites]


Are the extroverts of the world really treating introverted people that badly? I'm more introverted than average and I refuse my share of social invitations and no one has given me any grief about it since high school. I regularly eat lunch by myself or stay home instead of going out with friends and I don't feel judged or like people think less of me for it. I'm sure it does happen, but I've never experienced it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:11 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're either people who I can spend hours with sitting in silence as we ride a train or read our phones, or people who will 100% say whatever comes into their mind, no matter how socially unacceptable or awkward or mean it is.

Man, I never connected my adoration of people who have zero filters with my pronounced introversion, but those are both true things about me. (I also really like bossy neurotic women who will do all my worrying and planning for me and just tell me where to go and what to do. My friends don't all get along with each other.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:17 AM on December 3, 2012 [7 favorites]




And although I think, on the whole, extroverts don't give a crap about accommodating introverts


I don't know, the existence of stuff like this cartoon and the Caring for Your Introvert article make me think that introverts don't care much for accommodating extroverts either. There's a lot of contempt I see in both the cartoon and the Caring for Your Introvert article. Definitely "Special snowflake" vs "clueless boors."

I've rarely seen these labels used outside the internet and especially Metafilter, at least not to the degree that people identify so squarely with one or the other. I don't think I could ever be seriously described as the loudest person in a room and have a very vivid internal life, but would still consider myself an extrovert by the typical definition because I am energized by contact with others and get a bit depressed if I have too much time alone.
posted by sweetkid at 11:25 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The hole I see in the whole energy depletion is that, as an introvert, I do usually feel depleted after interacting with people, but there are certain people, the ones I can basically say anything to without fear of judgement, that DO energize me and with whom I could talk all day without getting tired. They are few and far between and basically like gold to me, but they do exist. I'm sure I'm not the only one for whom this is true.

I don't see this as hole at all. Introverts naturally gets along with certain other types of people, so it's not surprising that those people aren't draining.

Most of society enjoys talking at length about sports or fashion. A small subset enjoys pondering the significance of mystical vampires vs scientific vampires and what that means for story ideas. Neither is better than the other, but the two personality types don't mix very well.

To me, hearing someone discuss certain topics is like being stuck in high school for seven hours. It's boring and I struggle, i.e. expend energy, to feign interest in the personally uninteresting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:27 AM on December 3, 2012


Good lord, does this special snowflake bullshit drive me up the wall. Or, as my friend who is a mental health professional says: AGHHHHH INTROVERSION IS NOT A MENTAL DISORDER AND I'M GOING TO KILL YOU ALL.

....not in a professional context, though, doe she say that.

Anyway, gotta go kick sand in nerd faces and wipe my ass with books and not understand music as more than just thumpy sounds to fist pound to. All that extrovert stuff.
posted by whitneyarner at 11:27 AM on December 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I used to have this kind of mindset until, as many others have noted, I realized that my own experience didn't bear it out. I don't hate seeing people, but I do have anxiety that we'll not have enough to talk about, born out of many similar awkward evenings. But while they used to fill me with horror, now I shrug at them. Eh. Being bored or feeling out of sorts for a few hours won't kill me. This also puts less pressure on meeting people I do like for them to be the Most Perfectest Friend because I am so badly unsocialized because my standards are soo high.

I used to think that people who weren't like me or that I couldn't understand were boring. But now I tend to believe their lives and histories are probably full of joys and sorrows I know nothing about and that I would be interested to hear. Sometimes they'll tell me about them and we'll develop some closeness, sometimes they won't. It's ok either way. I can't make them be my soulmate or care about what I care about.

It helps to be old enough that younger people actually listen to my advice, no matter how much I tell them that's a dumb idea. But it does tend to make me think people are more likely intimidated by me than thinking I'm dull.
posted by emjaybee at 11:35 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Uh, I am an extrovert. Apparently the only one on the internet! It's great to meet everyone, I guess? I just thought I should say something before people reveal how we extroverts like to drink the blood of infants.
But I did want to address some things written above that seem largely based on negative personal experiences, especially with grobstein's theory that extroverts "don't have an interior life. 'Deciding' is not something they do, it's just a word they assign to explain their actions to others post hoc."
Ha! Sadly, I can attest that I have a LOT of interior life, and, frankly, a lot of the same social anxieties that seem to hold back SOME introverts, perhaps giving me a bit more nuance than a "cartoon shouty-guy." I worry about being annoying, I worry about being disliked, I worry - almost obsessively - about hurting the feelings of others. I am engaged to an introvert, and I believe that we have done a good job navigating the hazards in a relationship such as ours.
As such, I'd like to say what I believe makes me an extrovert. Although the "energy" idea in the comic is sort of hinky (especially with the portrayal of extroverts as ENERGY VAMPIRES) I will say that I have felt that I am energized by being in a group of my friends. I generally end every party with more energy than I begin it. If introduced I am very good at speaking to other people, even from markedly different backgrounds, and I can spend time with people - even people I actively dislike on some level - and leave them happy. I like interacting with other humans, if only because it reaffirms that we inhabit a shared world - I can talk about the weather with random people because what we are really doing is agreeing that we are both humans who are on friendly terms with each other and neither of us is going to try to club the other.
A lot of this I picked up during a really tumultuous adolescence, where I moved around a lot and needed, financially and emotionally, to make people like me very quickly. Because I am a sort of learned extrovert, I don't have the sort of personality who can walk into an auditorium full of strangers and walk out running for Congress or something - I am not the guy who screwed you out of the promotion. I am terrible on the telephone and a very bad negotiator if directly interacting with someone who relishes negotiation.
I understand that introverted people face a lot of difficulties in life, and I understand that extroverts can exacerbate that by not understanding these difficulties. But the first step is to actively address the situation. If someone is repeatedly asking you to do things that wear you down, you need to be able to tell them, "Hey, I really like you, but I am a bit of an introvert, and it's often exhausting for me to participate in social interactions. Please do not take offense if I can only see you occasionally." Use the energy metaphor in the comic, although do not imply that extroverts wish to drain you of your energy juice! I would avoid sending them this particular comic, since it is the equivalent of telling them that you think they're an idiot, but communicating your particular needs is important no matter who you are.
Anyway - maybe I'm not the sort of extrovert everyone is complaining about, maybe I am. But I thought I'd at least provide a view from this side.
posted by 235w103 at 11:39 AM on December 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


Or, as my friend who is a mental health professional says: AGHHHHH INTROVERSION IS NOT A MENTAL DISORDER AND I'M GOING TO KILL YOU ALL.

I find these cartoons and the "Caring for your introvert" article amusing because they attempt to explain, in very simple terms, introversion to extroverts. Because most extroverts not only don't understand the issue, but don't even recognize there's an issue. You can explain it to them and they literally forget, because they're just being their natural selves, you know? Noting wrong with that per se, but they often don't notice that not everyone is built the same way.

So, cartoons, books and articles are needed to explain the dynamics. Heh.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:48 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad these sort of snowflake introvert articles exist because seeing which people on the Internets love them is a great way of weeding out people who are going to cause endless friendship and relationship drama. And I have more introverted traits than I do extroverted.
posted by Electric Elf at 11:55 AM on December 3, 2012


For me, it does rise to the level of a disorder. Most of which I try to keep insulated from people around me, because that would be rude. I'm mature enough to politely suggest the sorts of things I'd feel most comfortable doing, and grin and bear it when I'm slightly out of my comfort zone. Extended family has mostly clued into the fact that my moments of companionable silence are not unfriendly.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:58 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can explain it to them and they literally forget, because they're just being their natural selves, you know?

This is not globally true (or particularly kind.) I know plenty of extroverts who are familiar with the concepts and can and do consciously make space and/or allowances for their introverted friends and loved ones. Just like I know if I'm going to be spending the evening with Sue Extrovert I need to plan for some downtime before and after to store up and replenish my people-handling reserves. It's not rocket science, really.

I don't think introversion is a mental disorder - obviously - but I think it is A Thing. I live alone and work from home - it's totally possible for me to go a week without seeing another human being except the clerk at the corner store (if that.) On regular weeks I spend maybe three or four hours in the company of humans I have to talk to, and that's just about perfect. I am generally happy and well-adjusted. I have quite a few friends that would not be happy and well-adjusted under this scheme, and most of my friends seem to fall on one side or the other of the line, rather than being points along a broad spectrum. (There is a spectrum, for sure, but it seems to be unevenly distributed.)
posted by restless_nomad at 12:01 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am an extrovert with plenty of social anxiety (and other anxiety as well, but a lot of it seems to involve interactions with other people & how people might perceive me). I also need a good deal of downtime, but even in my downtime I am often interacting with people online. I definitely have an interior life - I spend a lot of time in my own head, and I have a tendency to overthink stuff. My husband, on the other hand, is quite at ease in many interactive situations I find rather overwhelming - job interviews, sales, dealing with tech support, talking to people he doesn't know, commenting online; he's confident and friendly, but he's actually pretty introverted, and you wouldn't think so if you were around him. He doesn't overthink things or daydream like I do. I don't think these things are cut-and-dried, or that people are defined so easily.

I'm personally interested when people explain how things are for them, and I thought MeFi would be interested in these "explanation" comics. Actually the introvert comic wasn't so much of a revelation for me as the transgender one - the baby in the dogsuit being put on all fours - that one really hit me.
posted by flex at 12:11 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is not globally true (or particularly kind.)

Good point on it not being globally true of all extroverts.

As it not being particularly kind, it was not meant to be unkind. An extrovert being an extrovert isn't intrinsically bad, they're just being themselves. It's when they aren't getting the social cues that their extroversion is bothering others that a problem occurs. But that's situation is up to the individuals in it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:19 PM on December 3, 2012


You can explain it to them and they literally forget, because they're just being their natural selves, you know? Noting wrong with that per se, but they often don't notice that not everyone is built the same way.

Oh come the fuck on.

This is the kind of circle-jerking I'm talking about (along with the above-linked grobstein comment which is so ridiculous its beggars belief). Not only are extroverts simply not caring or sensitive enough to understand introverts, they literally cannot be taught otherwise?

What utter cretins and morons extroverts are! They aren't "intrinsically bad", they just can't help their idiot nature! Not like us enlightened introverts! Oh what a world we live in! What's to be done with these crude extrovert beasts!
posted by Sangermaine at 12:25 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just assumed grobstein's comment was satire. I mean, no one believes that extroverts truly lack an internal life or do things completely without consideration, right?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2012


Hey, I know plenty of extroverts that totally get introverts. Sure, I've met a couple that see it as some sort of problem/illness/deficiency to be fixed by getting you to "come out of your shell" or something, but that's the exception. Most extroverts, like most introverts, and in fact most people, are pretty kind and understanding. The A-holes just tend to stick in your memory more.
posted by mrgoat at 12:34 PM on December 3, 2012


I can attest that I have a LOT of interior life

This is fascinating! It seems so real!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:35 PM on December 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Which is to say, once you clue them into what's up with you, they're cool with it. I actually find the comic's approach helpful in explaining it when I have to, scientifically validated or not.
posted by mrgoat at 12:36 PM on December 3, 2012


Cute, but it doesn't really resonate with my experience of my introversion (except for the 'silence is not intended insultingly' bit - I love having people around, but Christ I don't need to be small-talking all the time, or feel like I constantly have to come up with things to say) or my being transgender...
posted by Dysk at 12:37 PM on December 3, 2012


I don't know, the existence of stuff like this cartoon and the Caring for Your Introvert article make me think that introverts don't care much for accommodating extroverts either.

It's probably more like resentment that they don't having any choice in the matter. Our whole society (with the exception of libraries and maybe a few other things) is set up to reward extroversion. Introverts continually have to accommodate extroverts and even feign being them just to achieve a small modicum of success. The few who don't tend to be true outcasts. This is nobody's fault and not necessarily wrong, but it does make life much more difficult for the introverted.

I don't think extroverts mean to boorish when they make a comment like, "You're so quiet!" In fact, I'm sure they're trying to be friendly. Unfortunately, it tends to make the receiver feel marginalized.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:39 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Are the extroverts of the world really treating introverted people that badly?

I think for a certain percentage of introverts who are also shy or maybe just not very assertive, yes, they can be treated pretty badly and made to feel like loser freaks of nature who just aren't trying hard enough. I tend to assume this would be worse for women than it would be for men, since in general people are more predisposed towards telling women about the things that are perceived as "wrong with them" (coming from all genders) and how to fix those things.
posted by elizardbits at 12:43 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


What utter cretins and morons extroverts are! They aren't "intrinsically bad", they just can't help their idiot nature! Not like us enlightened introverts! Oh what a world we live in! What's to be done with these crude extrovert beasts!

I'm not sure how you got such a dire and dramatic interpretation of what was written.

I tend to assume this would be worse for women than it would be for men, since in general people are more predisposed towards telling women about the things that are perceived as "wrong with them" (coming from all genders) and how to fix those things.

Yes, because the world loves and appreciates quiet men so much more.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:45 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


lol but there is no such thing
posted by elizardbits at 12:49 PM on December 3, 2012


235w103: "grobstein's theory that extroverts "don't have an interior life. 'Deciding' is not something they do, it's just a word they assign to explain their actions to others post hoc." "

Geez, did you have this posted in your scrapbook or what?
posted by boo_radley at 12:49 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how you got such a dire and dramatic interpretation of what was written.

You wrote that extroverts literally cannot have the problems introverts may experience explained to them because they will forget it due to their natures, and I'm the one being the dire and dramatic? I wish this issue could be discussed online without falling back into the "extroverts blind and dumb, introverts sensitive and smart" hole it always does.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:51 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sangermaine: "and I'm the one being the dire and dramatic? "

Sangermaine: "What utter cretins and morons extroverts are! They aren't "intrinsically bad", they just can't help their idiot nature! Not like us enlightened introverts! Oh what a world we live in! What's to be done with these crude extrovert beasts!"

C'mon, man. C'mon.
posted by boo_radley at 12:57 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


grobstein, I dislike your idea of extroverts' thinking.

You say extroverts lack consciousness, but intelligence requires consciousness, and the most intelligent people I know love the company of others. They like conversation because they like to listen as much as they like to talk. Curiosity and intelligence tend to wake from the same bed.

Those acquaintances of mine who withdraw from company may think more deeply and more clearly, but they rarely show it, and rarely completely. Even so, I don't deny them their internal lives.

Now, I may not know very intelligent people. I may not be able to distinguish intelligence from bravado. If the former, then I hope to meet better; if the latter, then I don't suppose there's any way for me to clarify that dark water. I can only report what I see.

If your comment wasn't satire, as Bulgaroktonos thought, then you need to find a new social circle.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:58 PM on December 3, 2012


I am an extrovert with plenty of social anxiety.

I have to admit the idea of an extrovert with social anxiety kind of blows my mind. How does it work exactly? Do you just say stuff and fret about it later?
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:59 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know, the existence of stuff like this cartoon and the Caring for Your Introvert article make me think that introverts don't care much for accommodating extroverts either.

When someone asserts their 'right' to civil social interaction with me (by striking up a conversation, say0, it's really hard to do anything other than comply, at least to an extent. Blanking them doesn't tend to go down well, for example. There's just no way to pre-emptively my 'right' to be left alone, and no socially acceptable way to assert it after the fact, especially if the other party is either oblivious to or unconcerned with my recalcitrance and hints.
posted by Dysk at 1:00 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think extroverts mean to boorish when they make a comment like, "You're so quiet!" In fact, I'm sure they're trying to be friendly. Unfortunately, it tends to make the receiver feel marginalized.

This.

I've gotten "You're so quiet!" (or, "Why don't you speak up?") my whole life and while I'm sure it is almost always said with the best of intentions, I can think of a grand total of zero times when somebody specifically pointing out and drawing attention to how shy and quiet I am being was the incentive I needed to break out of my shell.

Ironically enough, I've spent virtually my entire professional life in sales (still no good at cold calling though).
posted by The Gooch at 1:01 PM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


(FOR THE RECORD i am almost certain grobstein was kidding when he implied that extraverts literally do not have minds, but are in fact Chinese Rooms resembling people)
posted by Greg Nog at 1:03 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Extroverts literally cannot feel emotion. Science tells us that emotions are a physical sensation and that extroverts (if such a thing can be said to exist) are, in part, defined and delineated by their lacking of certain genetic markers which trigger the associated nerve endings. Extroverts are, for this reason, slightly more reptilian than true humans, in a purely biological sense. I haven't read all of the pertinent research but common sense suggests that this is also responsible for the near-constant psoriasis that many 'true' extroverts report.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:03 PM on December 3, 2012 [21 favorites]


I have to admit the idea of an extrovert with social anxiety kind of blows my mind. How does it work exactly?...

Extrovert has blank look, senses previous talker not finished. Not sure where to go with this one. Subject change. Feeling report? Notice something? Perhaps use previous notice-something? Assess did-I-tell-this-group-about-cool-thing-I-did-to-give-me-something-to-tell-people matrix.

Do you just say stuff and fret about it later?

Extrovert starts nodding, mouth opens...
posted by fleacircus at 1:04 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


"You're so quiet!" (or, "Why don't you speak up?")

This is an extremely obnoxious comment, I agree.


I have to admit the idea of an extrovert with social anxiety kind of blows my mind. How does it work exactly? Do you just say stuff and fret about it later?

I was terribly shy as a kid and still have some shyness now but would consider myself an etrovert then and now (and no I'm not saying social anxiety and shyness are the same or on a spectrum really).

Because I like being around other people and draw energy from interaction.
posted by sweetkid at 1:06 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oddly, I get "you should be more friendly" mainly from women. I also believe women get it mostly from men. I think people only care to fix people they might be interested in having sex with. But then again, I'm pretty sure those people were fucking extroverts.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:06 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


FOR THE RECORD i am almost certain grobstein was kidding when he implied that extraverts literally do not have minds, but are in fact Chinese Rooms resembling people

That is just the kind of unhelpful thing someone with EXTROVERT PRIVILEGE would say.
posted by elizardbits at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2012


boo_radley: grobstein posted a link to the comment in question upthread.

Jess The Mess: Personally - and a lot of this is probably because I found myself in situations where I needed everyone to like me - I worry that I have accidentally offended someone, or that I will make someone uncomfortable.

To try and not fulfill the above prophecy that extroverts make every conversation about them - I think the thing that I really like about the cartoons about being introverted and being transgendered is that they are specifically about communicating interior, ineffable and extremely visceral states to people who do not feel them. Furthermore - the format itself makes it very easy to provide to someone who does not understand feeling this way.
posted by 235w103 at 1:10 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just assumed grobstein's comment was satire.

I assumed he was convinced that extraverts are actually Peter Watts vampires.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:10 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oddly, I get "you should be more friendly" mainly from women.

At some point as a young single adult, I realized that when a woman said "you're really shy, aren't you?", that she was likely interested in me and if I actually talked to her, something might happen.
posted by octothorpe at 1:13 PM on December 3, 2012


I can think of a grand total of zero times when somebody specifically pointing out and drawing attention to how shy and quiet I am being was the incentive I needed to break out of my shell.

You would be my personal hero for the rest of my life if, the next time someone does this, you ripped off your breakaway everyday clothes to reveal a spangled suit beneath them and began performing a Busby Berkeley dance routine.
posted by elizardbits at 1:14 PM on December 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


something might happen.

The world is everything that is the case.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:15 PM on December 3, 2012


Self-defined introvert here confirming that most extroverts really seem not to "get it", in this thread or elsewhere. At least for me, social anxiety does not play much of a role, if any. I probably have much less social anxiety than most extroverts. The thing is, that as an introvert, social interaction doesn't do that much for me. The stakes are not high, so neither is my anxiety. When people expect me to care greatly about my social standing and interactions, then I can feel anxious--there's pressure to act like I feel something I don't.

In my experience, extroverts are also more impatient about time alone. An extrovert forced to wait on a line or for a food order quickly becomes impatient, whereas as an introvert, waiting is actually extremely welcome, as it's time alone.
posted by Schmucko at 1:15 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Self-defined introvert here confirming that most extroverts really seem not to "get it", in this thread or elsewhere. At least for me, social anxiety does not play much of a role, if any.

I think it was one of the self described introverts that expressed confusion about the possibility of being socially anxious and extroverted at the sametime.
posted by sweetkid at 1:20 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to admit the idea of an extrovert with social anxiety kind of blows my mind. How does it work exactly? Do you just say stuff and fret about it later?

It doesn't seem that crazy; it's someone who likes spending time with people (or draws energy from it in that model), but also gets anxious about social situations. The fact that something causes you anxiety doesn't mean you also can't enjoy it, ask any performer with stage fright.

Self-defined introvert here confirming that most extroverts really seem not to "get it", in this thread or elsewhere.

I have no idea how you tell anything about extroverts from this thread, it's had precisely two people (by my count) admit to extroverts and is basically a discussion between introverts about how well the comic describes their experiences; the fact that there's strong disagreement suggests (to me) that "likes to spend time alone" isn't a particularly cogent basis for an identity with strong shared personal experiences.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:22 PM on December 3, 2012


Ok, then sweetkid, I'll be equal-opportunity "waaah you don't understand me" and the one who questioned extraversion/anxiety was not my type. Like there are nerds, geeks, and dorks, there are probably subtypes of introvert, which probably hide an underlying discreteness and make it look more like a continuum.
posted by Schmucko at 1:24 PM on December 3, 2012


It seems to me the "not getting it" bits that I see most often come as a result of the conflation of energy with enjoyment. I can go to a party full of people that I like and consider my friends. I will talk to them all and have a really great time! But after 2-3 hours, I'm *done* -- I have to leave and go be by myself. It doesn't mean I'm suddenly anxious or that I am not having a good time at the party, just that I'm socially exhausted. I can't keep talking and mingling, and if I do I *will* start having a terrible time.

In my experience, very few people who don't share this really understand it. The above explanation generally gets nods and apparent understanding, until I say that I need to leave the party. At that point it's right back to "I thought you were having a good time!" (Or worse, "What did I do to you? Why do you hate me?" I suspect that bit helps drive introverts to think that extroverts have to make everything about themselves.)
posted by fader at 1:26 PM on December 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


Pro tip for introverts who want to leave a social gathering without the usual BUT WHYYYYY fuss: pretend you are going to the bathroom and leave; pretend you are going to get another drink from the bar and leave; exclaim GOOD LORD WHAT IS THAT OVER THERE and when everyone turns to look, leave.
posted by elizardbits at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


you're really shy, aren't you

Unfortunately I'm not the type of introvert people think is shy. I'm the type they think is silently judging them.

Seeing as I was the main proponent of the anxiety theory. I accept that my own experience may not be shared by all introverts. Unlike extroverts, all introverts are unique and delicate creatures.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:31 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


In my experience, extroverts are also more impatient about time alone. An extrovert forced to wait on a line or for a food order quickly becomes impatient, whereas as an introvert, waiting is actually extremely welcome, as it's time alone.

Ha, what? Wow, no way. I would self-identify as an introvert, but like Inigo Montoya, I hate waiting. I do not find standing in lines to be a good place for quiet contemplation.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:31 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say I don't think I've ever had anyone question me when I told them I was leaving a party early. Just a simple "thanks, had a great time, but I'm pretty tired, so I'm heading home" usually suffices without the need for an Irish goodbye or other shenanigans. Anyway, don't introverts and extroverts both leave parties early all the time? Stay until the end of a party sometime and you'll notice that most of the people have left without anyone being confused as to why they're leaving.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:34 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pro tip for introverts who want to leave a social gathering without the usual BUT WHYYYYY fuss: pretend you are going to the bathroom and leave; pretend you are going to get another drink from the bar and leave; exclaim GOOD LORD WHAT IS THAT OVER THERE and when everyone turns to look, leave.

One of my drinking buddies calls that an "Irish goodbye"
posted by Ad hominem at 1:34 PM on December 3, 2012


Hmm, from the Urban Dictionary definitions, "Irish goodbye" sounds like one of those phrases that should probably not be used, if you want to be polite.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:42 PM on December 3, 2012


I have to say I don't think I've ever had anyone question me when I told them I was leaving a party early.

That's nice for you, I guess? IDK, it used to happen to me all the time with newer friends/acquaintances, because everyone else has known me long enough to know not to argue when I say I'm exhausted and going home. That way lies madness and shin-kicking.
posted by elizardbits at 1:45 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyway, don't introverts and extroverts both leave parties early all the time?

Sorry, I should have been more clear. Parties are one time this happens, but not the only. E.g. going out for drinks after work or a random "Hey, fader, come to dinner with some friends of mine I want you to meet!" It's harder to leave a small gathering who obviously intend to keep having a great time without them thinking you're not enjoying their company.

I'm not particularly complaining as I've gotten quite adept at handling my own energy levels and social interactions. I appreciate the suggestions but I've gotten them my entire life, and it was only when I stopped trying to "fix" my behavior or rationalize my own feelings that I started thinking abut how I felt and how best to deal with it. Now that I've stopped trying to push past my own limits to be like the life of the party, I'm much happier and easier to get along with in social situations. :)
posted by fader at 1:47 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


The lesson for this thread is that people have a lot of individual experiences, which may or may not map to others.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:47 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty introverted. But, like many people, it doesn't mean I don't enjoy hanging out with people -- I do, even for long periods of time. I rarely need to (for instance) leave a party extra early because I am worn out by the social aspects of it. (I could be tired, or bored, or busy the next day.) What I need is sufficient time alone on a larger scale -- over the course of a few days I'm okay seeing people all the time, after which I want to be alone for ages. But I don't need to set it aside every single day. And I like gossip.

I am usually not terribly shy or reserved. Waiting in line depends on what sort of waiting it is, so a "sit and wait until your number is called" is fine while "shuffle forward in this group of people" is not, so much.

Some of my best friends are extroverts! Or one of my friends is, anyhow.
posted by jeather at 1:47 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting how many let's-call-them-introverts will become outgoing once there is a shared activity to focus on. It's just the extroverts consider standing around with a drink in your hand and blabbering about your outward facing life panels to be an activity because they put a lot of thought into those panels, they want to talk about them and show them off, and they are ready to enforce the idea that this activity is the true activity and only losers feel otherwise. Whereas introverts do not generally consider the preening and socializing over those outward facing panels to be a thing, and they're not sure if they should turn some of those inward-facing panels around...
posted by fleacircus at 1:51 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I ask why people want to leave, it's because I've known plenty of people who will not say outright that they are uncomfortable or having a bad time, but who might also be offended or hurt or just have a lingering bad vibe about it all if I didn't pick up on it somehow, and it's easier to fix those things or try to accommodate them at the time rather than after the fact. So pretty much I'm trying to be sensitive and make sure it's all good. If you're tired or you're just done with it, that's fine and I'll take your word for it, but I can't know what kind of person you are unless I know you well.

It's probably one of those Ask vs. Guess things. My tendency is to just go ahead and ask, rather than guess and wonder.

Another explanation is that it's a social nicety: when someone leaves, it's showing their presence is valued and that they'll be missed when they go. It seems almost rude to me to not at least be a little "oh, that's too bad" about it - not obnoxious, obviously, but worse to have them go with the impression that no one cares that they're leaving.

It's not like I don't see the point that it can be too much or too pushy, I'm just saying I can think of legit reasons for the behaviour that are not "an extrovert making everything all about themselves".
posted by flex at 1:51 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's harder to leave a small gathering who obviously intend to keep having a great time without them thinking you're not enjoying their company.

Do extroverts really think like this? Or is this just the way that people with social anxiety assume extroverts think?
posted by 23skidoo at 1:54 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


preening and socializing over those outward facing panels

It's no wonder that you don't like having conversations if you really think that's what they're about.
posted by cdward at 1:55 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


If someone says to me BUT WHY ARE YOU LEAVING DON'T YOU LIKE US ANYMORE in a hurt and offended tone then I am going to assume they mean it and are not just trolling for affection or something.
posted by elizardbits at 1:56 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Unless of course I know them well enough to realize that they are just being ridiculous and silly deliberately.)
posted by elizardbits at 1:57 PM on December 3, 2012


(in which case the only appropriate response is "nope, i don't, goodbye forever!")
posted by elizardbits at 1:59 PM on December 3, 2012


It's no wonder that you don't like having conversations if you really think that's what they're about.

And I can tell you're a brilliant conversationalist as well! Let's just make blarga blinga meerpa gwoppa sounds at each other, I think that will be the most fruitful conversation for us.
posted by fleacircus at 1:59 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now the thing about waltzing into a noisy bar with 100 people all engaged in random mini-conversations is that I literally can't hear what is being said. Or rather, I can't differentiate one speaker's voice from the others so I hear a bunch of incoherent snippets or I miss half the sentence. I'll be standing in a group of a few people and everyone's having this discussion and I can't make sense of anything so I'm relegated to smiling and nodding because I don't want to be the guy that keeps shouting "I DIDN'T HEAR CAN YOU SAY THAT AGAIN?" I mean this isn't just people joking around, this is seeing one guy move his mouth and make Charlie Brown adult noises and then hear 80% of the other guy's response which is clearly referring to something the first guy said. I don't have any hearing problems otherwise (in fact, I'd say I have more acute hearing than most). I'm not sure if this has anything to do with introversion, but realizing that everyone else was making coherent questions and answers and I couldn't even hear anything at least gave me one concrete reason for feeling uncomfortable in that type of situation.
posted by pravit at 2:03 PM on December 3, 2012 [14 favorites]


The problem with introverts is that they all smell very strongly of butter.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:06 PM on December 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Do extroverts really think like this? Or is this just the way that people with social anxiety assume extroverts think?

I can only go based on what I have been told by people I have interacted with. I know that I was (for lack of a better word) culled from at least one social group for several years due to my habit of staying in gatherings for less time than the others. It was interpreted as me being aloof and "too good" to socialize with the group. (I found this out much later when speaking to one of the members of said group at an unrelated party. We cleared up the misconception and everything is great again.)

So short answer, yes, at least some extroverts think like this.
posted by fader at 2:09 PM on December 3, 2012


How many people here tend to avoid speaking in groups just because you find yourself talking just as someone else starts talking to be seriously embarrassing for some reason? For me it's like I have to precisely calculate when the conversation has lulled just enough so I can say what I want to say. For the record I don't believe in introversion or extroversion, well, maybe I do, but I think we're all on a continuum rather than either/or.

The introvert in that comic reminds me a little bit of this dog that belongs to one of my friends; if you don't approach her just right she'll go fucking nuts and try to bite you, despite seeming like an otherwise totally calm, chilled-out dog.
posted by MattMangels at 2:09 PM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


The problem with introverts is that they all smell very strongly of butter.

mmmm, butter
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:09 PM on December 3, 2012


I think it's interesting how many let's-call-them-introverts will become outgoing once there is a shared activity to focus on. It's just the extroverts consider standing around with a drink in your hand and blabbering about your outward facing life panels to be an activity because they put a lot of thought into those panels, they want to talk about them and show them off, and they are ready to enforce the idea that this activity is the true activity and only losers feel otherwise. Whereas introverts do not generally consider the preening and socializing over those outward facing panels to be a thing, and they're not sure if they should turn some of those inward-facing panels around...

There's some terminology here that's confusing me. First of all I have no idea what an outward facing life panel is. I'm also confused as to what exactly you're talking about when you say "shared activity."

I think, though I could be mistaken, that you're comparing the activity of sitting around chatting with an structured, non-conversation focused activity like a board game. In that case, I agree, it's easier for an introverted person to be "social" where there's an activity beyond simply talking; this makes sense since talking is pure socializing where as the other provides a structure for socializing but doesn't require it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:11 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, the comic, and the ensuing thread,has convinced me that I am not a true introvert. I am one of these chimeric anxiety-extroverts. Can someone make a comic about us? We are not all monsters.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:12 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's interesting how many let's-call-them-introverts will become outgoing once there is a shared activity to focus on.

I think a lot of extroverts enjoy communicating just to communicate and form bonds, like gorillas grooming each other. While introverts tend to want to do or say things to form bonds. Communicating just to communicate seems odd to most introverts. Rather than grooming each other, they'd rather groom the forest and connect with people who groom it in similar fashion.

235w10c said it perfectly:
I can talk about the weather with random people because what we are really doing is agreeing that we are both humans who are on friendly terms with each other and neither of us is going to try to club the other.
This is important knowledge to have.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:13 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's just make blarga blinga meerpa gwoppa sounds at each other, I think that will be the most fruitful conversation for us.

They talk by flapping their meat at each other.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:14 PM on December 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think it might be helpful if we stopped comparing people with different social desires to animals.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:17 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it might be helpful if we stopped comparing people with different social desires to animals.

People are animals.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:23 PM on December 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


Still waiting here for the world to discuss ambiverts.
posted by gadget_gal at 2:23 PM on December 3, 2012


shakespeherian: "The problem with introverts is that they all smell very strongly of butter."

Not just smell, either!
posted by boo_radley at 2:25 PM on December 3, 2012


Still waiting here for the world to discuss ambiverts.

Perverts.
posted by grobstein at 2:25 PM on December 3, 2012


Still waiting here for the world to discuss ambiverts.

PICK A SIDE.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:27 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like talking just to talk, at least with people I am generally fond of. I just like being alone more, most of the time.
posted by jeather at 2:27 PM on December 3, 2012


Communicating just to communicate seems odd to most introverts.

Yeah, not to this one. I'm perfectly happy to make pointless small talk while standing in line for donuts or at the bank or whatever. I form bonds with people in different ways, depending on the context and the people. I assume this is true for most of us, wherever we fall on the intro/extro axis.
posted by rtha at 2:32 PM on December 3, 2012


I am friendly, talkative (especially after a drink), assertive, poised, and confident. But holy god after a full day of having to be nice to people (say, at a professional conference, as I'm currently at) all I want to do is lock myself in my apartment and stare at the wall for a day before I have to face humanity again. It's not anxiety, it's the absolute exhaustion from being ON (assertive, friendly, talkative, confident, etc). And when a friend is like "oh, come have a drink with me, it'll help you relax!"? No! No it won't! It interferes with my wall-staring time!

I don't consider introversion a mental disorder by any means, but it is a personality trait that can influence one's life quite a bit. I always figured I was extroverted because I wasn't anxious or hiding at home or shy, but once someone explained the "needs alone time to recharge" definition to me, holy shit was it a revelation. That is absolutely me, 100%. And now that I realize it, I feel more comfortable explaining to my significant other that I need a wall-staring day after we've been visiting friends or family, and have him realize that I'm exhausted, not antisocial.
posted by olinerd at 2:33 PM on December 3, 2012 [12 favorites]


No matter what kingdom humans might be in, comparing the behavior of some people to animals clearly belittles it. Especially given that this thread has already been pretty harsh on extroverts.

Comparing the social behaviors of people unlike yourself to grooming or preening simply isn't value neutral commentary on people as animals, even if you claim so after the fact. The implication is that extroverts' communication is more lowly and and vain.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:36 PM on December 3, 2012


The concept of Extroverts vs. Introverts as opposing, feuding forces is odd to me as an introverted person who actually enjoys and is energized by large social gatherings like big, wild parties and loud, crowded bars, but is far too shy and nervous about rejection to ever be the one to initiate such events. As I look back on my social life over the past 20 years or so, so much of it has been dependent on the kindness and inclusion of some of my more extroverted friends who have taken the lead on planning outings large and small where I've been included as an invitee. Without these people in my life I'd have far fewer wild stories of my 20s and far more tales of Saturday nights eating pizza by myself in front of the TV (with the disclaimer that like most introverts, I've generally needed a certain amount of downtime to recharge following such events)
posted by The Gooch at 2:41 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


really the issue is that i just hate people
posted by elizardbits at 2:51 PM on December 3, 2012


I have a friend who is an Extrovert and after 15 years of friendship, she still doesn't understand that I'm an Introvert. My not wanting to go out to a loud bar after work or go "antiquing" on the weekends is viewed as a rejection of her and her friendship. I've actually explained to her that I find social activities, particularly those involving a lot of people, exhausting (still fun, but tiring), so I only have energy to do one or two events a month, instead of one or two events a week, and she says she understands, but she always guilt trips me when I turn her down. It's really annoying and it's gotten to the point where I almost reflexively say no to doing anything with her. Don't make me feel guilty about being an Introvert, Extroverts. Life is hard enough as it is.
posted by longdaysjourney at 2:57 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


No matter what kingdom humans might be in, comparing the behavior of some people to animals clearly belittles it.

Only if you think lowly of animals. Not sure why anyone would. Frankly, humanity would probably be lot better in if we spent most of our time foraging, grooming and sleeping, with an occasional quickie thrown in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:57 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also eating our young.
posted by elizardbits at 3:00 PM on December 3, 2012


No! Remember your training!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:02 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


When someone asserts their 'right' to civil social interaction with me (by striking up a conversation, say0, it's really hard to do anything other than comply, at least to an extent. Blanking them doesn't tend to go down well, for example. There's just no way to pre-emptively my 'right' to be left alone, and no socially acceptable way to assert it after the fact, especially if the other party is either oblivious to or unconcerned with my recalcitrance and hints.

Just because someone is extroverted doesn't mean she wants to interact with whomever whenever. Shooting down unwanted social interaction is a necessary skill for everybody. Having a range for this (from 'it's wonderful to see you and I can't wait to catch up properly' to 'I don't want to talk to you, leave me alone or I'm calling the police') isn't a birthright but a learned social skill that comes more easily to some than others - and not necessarily along intro/extro lines. Similarly, accepting social rejection graciously is also such a skill that intro and extroverts lack in not disparate proportions, in my experience.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:03 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am friendly, talkative (especially after a drink), assertive, poised, and confident. But holy god after a full day of having to be nice to people (say, at a pr.ofessional conference, as I'm currently at) all I want to do is lock myself in my apartment and stare at the wall for a day before I have to face humanity again. It's not anxiety, it's the absolute exhaustion from being ON (assertive, friendly, talkative, confident, etc). And when a friend is like "oh, come have a drink with me, it'll help you relax!"? No! No it won't! It interferes with my wall-staring time!

This is a lot of it for me. I'm pretty weird (nerdy, liberal) and I find settings where I have to act more normal to be completely draining. Hanging out with the in-laws. Working in conservative environments. When I can feel free to be myself without a certain degree of criticism or judgment, I'm pretty happy socializing, but in more conservative environments where I fear censure, I'm absolutely exhausted by the experience. It's a different type of being "on" than what you're saying, I suspect, because I'm okay with being nice to people. Not so good at pretending to be a different fundamental person than the one I actually am.

Of course, this is all exacerbated (and maybe contributes to) my significant social anxiety in some settings. Plus working in a creative, solitary field. Still, when I'm around absolute extroverts--people like my sister, who want to have four or five different social activities going on in a weekend--I find myself inevitably drained. I'm a bit phlegmatic, I guess. I enjoy people, but want that balanced with lots of solitary time, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:04 PM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


That is why I believe it stems from anxiety issues. I think some people work much much harder during many interactions due to anxiety.

It also explains why some interoverts suddenly become extroverts when inhibitions are lowered.


For what it's worth, my understanding is that introversion and what some psychologists call "neuroticism" (anxiety, obsessiveness, sensitivity, etc.) are measured with different survey questions and are only modestly correlated if at all. Now of course, this is partly by construction, because the methods used to identify e.g. the Big Five will always find trait combinations that are orthogonal(-ish). But problems with the Big Five model aside, if introversion was really mainly rooted in anxiety, I think you would expect a much stronger relationship there.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:05 PM on December 3, 2012


The concept of Extroverts vs. Introverts as opposing, feuding forces is odd to me as an introverted person who actually enjoys and is energized by large social gatherings like big, wild parties and loud, crowded bars, but is far too shy and nervous about rejection to ever be the one to initiate such events.

I'm not unlike this in that I'm mostly introverted, but I can enjoy the right type of social gathering immensely. I'm put off by large crowds and can be pretty easily spooked if a social situation springs itself on my unexpectedly(meeting people on the street almost always freaks me out), but I could easily go to the corner bar and chat with strangers four nights a week. Am I an introvert or an extrovert? I don't know, but I do have an internal life and I'm not too stupid to learn that other people are introverts, so I guess I'm an introvert.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:16 PM on December 3, 2012


There, there. There, THERE.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:28 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find settings where I have to act more normal to be completely draining

Yeah, situations in which I am forced to pretend that I am a decent human being with normal social boundaries are fucking exhausting and awful.
posted by elizardbits at 3:32 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, my understanding is that introversion and what some psychologists call "neuroticism" (anxiety, obsessiveness, sensitivity, etc.) are measured with different survey questions and are only modestly correlated if at all

That may be true but some people are describing themselves as introverts and also describing fear of judgement or embarrassment. Obviously people can be both introverted, truly content to spend time alone, as well as suffer from anxiety.

I don't know anymore. All I know is that I can't change other people, I can only change my reaction to them. People who want to speak to me, or want me to stay at their parties, aren't evil energy stealers. Thinking they are says more about me than it does about them.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:38 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, er, grobstein's comment is looking much more obviously satirical, and my response sounds less like thunder and more like shaken aluminum. Sorry, grobstein.

"Introversion" better describes my behavior, but I don't like the word. "Extroversion" bothers me, too. Like Bulgaroktonos, I think those words ascribe a false essence to people. I've withdrawn from company, but company has also withdrawn itself from me.

For a long time, no one invited me anywhere, so I didn't go out with anyone. I didn't invite anyone to hang out, either, because I feared rejection. Not many people had given me reason to think they would accept an invitation from me.

I couldn't blame them. Anxious, self-loathing people bring the mood down.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:44 PM on December 3, 2012


The comic missed the critical bit when, after my hamster ball has been batted about by an endless stream of people who are unable to process basic, direct communication like, "No thanks, really, I'm fine over here" (to Stoppardian, parodic levels of brinkmanship which makes Mississippi porch etiquette as subtle as a nod and wink), the dismal plastic cracks open and, leaping forth in Cuchulainnian rage, I rend off the face of the nearest person, then howl into their blood-burbling skull, "HAH HAH, HAH HAH, HAH HAH, HOW DO YOU LIKE INTERACTING WITH ME NOW?" whilst the rest of the party stops and looks on in horror.
posted by adipocere at 3:44 PM on December 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, situations in which I am forced to pretend that I am a decent human being with normal social boundaries are fucking exhausting and awful.

This is my problem as well! Also, everyone is more normal than me with kids and a house and the in-laws and a love of sports, so I have to spend the whole time evading any discussion of my life, because then they'll treat me like a freak quasi-shut-in. All of which is true, but is kind of unpleasant to have confirmed.
posted by winna at 3:50 PM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Introversion" better describes my behavior, but I don't like the word. "Extroversion" bothers me, too. Like Bulgaroktonos, I think those words ascribe a false essence to people. I've withdrawn from company, but company has also withdrawn itself from me.

For a long time, no one invited me anywhere, so I didn't go out with anyone. I didn't invite anyone to hang out, either, because I feared rejection. Not many people had given me reason to think they would accept an invitation from me.


The "for a long time" makes me realize part of the reason that I hate the categorization, which is that these traits are far from fixed. I'm less introverted now than I've ever been, to a point that someone who knew me a dozen years ago would definitely notice. Likewise, I know people who were very introverted in high school, but tire of social interactions more quickly now. Assigning yourself the label "introvert" or "extrovert" discourages people from recognizing their own movement along that continuum. Honestly, if you take seriously the idea that introverts and extroverts are totally different species thinking about thinks in totally different ways, I'm not even sure how that movement would be possible, even though I think it clearly happens.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:55 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, wow, there are a lot of really insulting (unintentional?) implications in this comic. It suggests that extroverts take energy from other people, in the sense of some kind of transfer, ignoring the fact that extroverts can socialize with each other, mutually gain energy, and be perfectly happy. (Similarly, the suggestion that introverts "give" energy is a real misstatement -- when an introvert socializes with another introvert, both will still usually need recharging time afterward. No energy has been "given.")
posted by ostro at 4:18 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


One thing which Introverts and Extroverts have in common: we are both self-absorbed.

It's not quite a spectrum, it's more complex. We sometimes see introspection in extroverts, and random expressions in introverts...
posted by ovvl at 4:23 PM on December 3, 2012


I find a lot of social interaction draining and do try to limit it, so I guess I'm some sort of introvert by that definition. I know exactly why: social interaction, for me, means furious decision making and after a while that becomes tiring. I literally get warn out by the intellectual (and emotional) activity of making choices about how to interact.

Social interaction, for me, is learned and a rather intellectual experience, like trying to solve a puzzle. These puzzles have gotten easier with time, because I understand (or at least rationalize) other people's reactions to certain stimuli or reactions whether from me or someone/thing else. The other half is learning to understand, express and moderate my own emotional reactions to things, which is at least as hard. All this decision-making isn't as hard now as it was when I was a teen. As a consequence I can be more social and enjoy being with other people more as I get older. It's one of the gifts of aging.

So this "introversion" comes not from social anxiety, but from the effort required by learned emotional and intellectual skills. I am somewhat envious of the extroverts who come by those talents more naturally, however the introverted approach has served me well, paying back in consideration and analysis.
posted by bonehead at 4:24 PM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


...when an introvert socializes with another introvert, both will still usually need recharging time afterward. No energy has been "given.")

Not necessarily. The right introvert mix produces all night D&D or movies or some such. Not every social interaction for an introvert means the lose energy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:36 PM on December 3, 2012


I'm simpatico with a few others here. Whether I'm introverted or extroverted in any given week depends on the kind of interaction, the sort of people I'm interacting with, and how much effort I have to make to appear ON: 'normal', 'professional', interested in and/or articulate about things I'm not naturally interested in, and whatever else. When I'm around people I know aren't judging me for anything other than who I am, I can be social forever and don't feel drained at all. The "draining" part of the equation is all about the anxiety that comes with feeling the need to project a persona on to myself that I don't naturally have. I'm energized by people I like, good vibes, open minds, and drained by being around judgmental/bad/fake vibes. Aren't most people that way, though? To be honest, I'm probably something along the lines of "quietly extroverted-slash-introverted with untreated anxiety issues," which sounds freakish but I can't explain it much better. I doubt the introvert/extrovert dichotomy maps neatly to anything going on in my life or many other lives.

(All of which is to say humans are messy and complex, hallelujah.)
posted by naju at 4:41 PM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


> Ad hominem: "That may be true but some people are describing themselves as introverts and also describing fear of judgement or embarrassment."

Eh. I am very much an introvert and my partner is very much an extrovert, but I think she'd agree she has a lot more social anxieties about being judged or embarassed than I do. You can be an extrovert anxious that no one likes you because you don't have any party invitations on a Saturday night, and you can be an introvert blithely unconcerned that someone might take offense if you leave a party early. Introversion and social anxiety are simply not the same thing.

Also, more generally about the thread, speaking as an introvert who's been with an extrovert for more than 11 years now ... really don't see "them" as "the enemy" or "bad". Sure, sometimes she tries to talk to me when I'm reading. Sure, sometimes I want to leave the club before she does. Astonishingly enough, people who like each other find ways to cope with that sort of thing without having to consider each other terrible human beings.
posted by kyrademon at 5:26 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


People who want to speak to me, or want me to stay at their parties, aren't evil energy stealers. Thinking they are says more about me than it does about them.

It's the situation that costs energy, not the people. For me and the other introverts I've discussed this with, nobody thinks that other people are evil energy stealers intending to sap our precious bodily fluids.

But as we all know, it's always all about the extroverts' feelings, right?
posted by fader at 5:44 PM on December 3, 2012


I really felt the impact of the transgender experience link. Thank you for that! I'll also be keeping the circles of acceptance piece in mind.

And w/r/t leaving large social gatherings, I'd like to point out the existence of "sketch bounce." Not to say that any category of people are of dubious character, because I know plenty of people that have sketch bounced and none of them are strictly introverted or extroverted.
posted by one teak forest at 5:52 PM on December 3, 2012


winna: "Also, everyone is more normal than me with kids and a house and the in-laws and a love of sports, so I have to spend the whole time evading any discussion of my life, because then they'll treat me like a freak quasi-shut-in."

Well that just gave me a Thanksgiving flashback...
posted by the_artificer at 5:52 PM on December 3, 2012


It definitely sounds like there are two different axes - introversion/extroversion (using the "spends energy/gains energy" definition) and then socially anxious/not socially anxious, and the correlation is nonexistent. Trying to map all of that onto one axis seems to be causing a lot of the miscommunication here.

Just as a datapoint, as long as I don't have a mic, I have basically no social anxiety. (I get nervous as fuck in really crowded rooms, but that's just claustrophobia.) And I *like* social events, meeting new people, going to bars, whatever. I just have a budget for those things that I have to manage, and when I'm out, I'm out.

The most extroverted person I know is also the most anxious person I know. She just deals with it by seeking reassurance from other people, not by avoiding them. (And by drinking, but, well, we all have coping mechanisms.)
posted by restless_nomad at 5:54 PM on December 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Not necessarily. The right introvert mix produces all night D&D or movies or some such. Not every social interaction for an introvert means the lose energy.

I think this must be one of those differences-between-introverts things. For me, at least, there's no substitute for actual aloneness -- even an evening of watching movies with another introverted person still feels really different from watching movies by myself, and requires some recharging.
posted by ostro at 6:05 PM on December 3, 2012


In Circles of acceptance the artist makes the mistake of thinking he knows how what he labels as "severely autistic" thinks or does not think. This is very ignorant and presumptuous in addition to being hypocritical considering his transgender explanation cartoon. If he tried to communicate with people who have been labeled as 'severely autistic" he would know that they do not think like this; "...people are not capable of seeing anything that is not them as real or sentient" . If SVeidt wants to understand autistics a little bit SVeidt should read: Non-Speaking, Low Functioning By Amy Sequenzia and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/todd-drezner/autism_b_1195580.html to gain a better perspective. I am not an artist, but I wish that I could have a temporary account at DeviantArt so I could tell the artist that he is very presumptuous to say the least. To quote Lydia Brown at Autistic Hoya: "Most Autistics and our allies do not use or like functional labels and functioning language (eg. "high-functioning" and "low-functioning.") We find those labels arbitrary, ineffective, nondescriptive, unhelpful, oversimplified, hurtful, and insulting. I know of Autistics who excel in some areas and have extreme difficulties in others; those uneven skills are different for each Autistic. It's not accurate or helpful to describe people as high or low functioning." and: "Autistics aren't innately "unable to communicate with others." We communicate all the time, constantly. If non-Autistics aren't attuned to it, and especially if non-Autistics presume that we don't or can't communicate at all, of course what we're communicating will be missed." At first I like what SVeit said because the part about introverts resembled The Spoon Theory of disability . Too bad.
posted by RuvaBlue at 6:32 PM on December 3, 2012


I'm very introverted and I also have some anxiety issues, and I definitely see them as being two separate things (although two things that can interact with each other badly.) Sometimes it catches me by surprise that I can spend all weekend doing things I enjoy with people I really like -- people who don't make me anxious at all -- and then by Sunday night I'm ready to burst out crying, just because I've been enjoying myself so much I don't see my protective candy coating getting worn away to nothing.
posted by Jeanne at 7:44 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you establish a hideaway for your introvert -- this ought to be a sheltered structure with only one point of entry -- it will be much calmer, and you will not have to clean the cage as often. You will, unfortunately, have to train your introvert to come out when you call for it; this is done well enough with high-value treats (books are recommended, here) and plenty of patience. Do not force the introvert, as it is likely to bite if it becomes frightened.
posted by cmyk at 8:24 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not an introvert. I'm a weird, standoffish recluse, thank you very much.
posted by deathpanels at 8:25 PM on December 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you establish a hideaway for your introvert -- this ought to be a sheltered structure with only one point of entry -- it will be much calmer, and you will not have to clean the cage as often.

This is extra amusing to me because I live in a condo with three tiny windows and I spend most of my time in my (literal) closet.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:33 PM on December 3, 2012


I think the best indicator for intro/extro is: can you stand to spend more than an hour completely alone?

At one point in my life, I spent more than a day by myself, in a totally mentally well, non-depressive state. I floated from a book to the computer to exercising to doing some homework to another book, and only later realized, huh, I talked to exactly zero people that whole day, and it felt pretty good.
posted by deathpanels at 8:43 PM on December 3, 2012


as it is likely to bite if it becomes frightened

This is true, I am very bitey.
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 PM on December 3, 2012


deathpanels: "At one point in my life, I spent more than a day by myself, in a totally mentally well, non-depressive state. I floated from a book to the computer to exercising to doing some homework to another book, and only later realized, huh, I talked to exactly zero people that whole day, and it felt pretty good."

Thanks to the self checkout at grocery stores, I've had whole months go by like that.
posted by the_artificer at 8:52 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I'm learning from this thread is that drawing cute cartoons to express different points of view in a simplified way might be useful for, say, helping people understand what to do during a plane crash, but just pisses everybody (around here) off if it's about something subjective.

so that dashes my plans for a cartoon to help bicyclists and motorists understand each other. drat.
posted by davejay at 10:07 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shooting down unwanted social interaction is a necessary skill for everybody. Having a range for this (from 'it's wonderful to see you and I can't wait to catch up properly' to 'I don't want to talk to you, leave me alone or I'm calling the police') isn't a birthright but a learned social skill that comes more easily to some than others - and not necessarily along intro/extro lines. Similarly, accepting social rejection graciously is also such a skill that intro and extroverts lack in not disparate proportions, in my experience.

Maybe it's a cultural difference thing (UK/US or something maybe?) but in my life, the social interactions I don't want are never, ever of a type where you can politely say 'not interested' in any way. Strangers says '"lovely weather we're having, isn't it?" at a bus stop - I'm the bad person if I don't respond. Even odds that the person will get visibly offended or start berating me (this has gotten much worse since starting to present as a woman, unsurprisingly). Shopkeeper or barman starts making small talk while they ring up my purchases or pour my pint? I've actually been asked to leave a pub before for not replying in kind. Sometimes, I just don't have the energy to engage with people at all, and that seems to really offend them, to the point where that becomes a problem for me.
posted by Dysk at 12:54 AM on December 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


(Also, really really sick of things like 'The Transgender Experience' - it's A transgender experience, not THE transgender experience. Like most others you ever see talked about, it's nothing at all like mine.)
posted by Dysk at 12:58 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Transgender Experience

Sounds like a pretty awesome band or installation though.
posted by elizardbits at 7:24 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not an artist, but I wish that I could have a temporary account at DeviantArt so I could tell the artist that he is very presumptuous to say the least.

You don't need to be an artist to sign up. I have an account solely to favorite stuff and avoid the mature filter.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:46 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ad hom, I think a missing piece of this may be that societal norms can produce more anxiety in introverts than they do in extroverts specifically in our culture, which tends to favor extroversion. The example that comes to my mind is that silence is often presumed to be unacceptably awkward, but I'm not particularly bothered by it unless the silent person also seems upset, and actually I feel like allowing lulls in a conversation can be refreshing, the equivalent of a side change in conversational tennis.

But I've also had conversations with people who are very sensitive about silence (and tend to interpret it as disengagement or even hostility), and it can easily degenerate into an uncomfortable feedback loop where they act even more extroverted in order to fill the void, which makes me feel even more exhausted and thus more liable to be silent, etc., etc.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:58 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, I don't mind silence, but I usually end up worrying that the other person minds it, so it makes me uncomfortable anyway because I wind up desperately thinking about something to say to end the silence in case it is making them uncomfortable.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:37 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


ADS, yeah, that's a problem too, and I think it's another example of how social expectations can lead to greater stress for one group vs. another.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:36 PM on December 4, 2012


Idle notes and observations:
I did a beginner's Vipassana course, which is ten days of silent meditation. Not talking and absolute minimum acknowledgement of the other people around you. Even when walking along paths in the woods, we ignored each other completely, just passed each other as if no one was there.

Some extroverts were absolutely horrified by the idea and said they'd go crazy within half an hour and could not imagine doing such a thing. No biggie.

The most interesting response was from a physical therapist after I got back. Very gregarious person, warm and friendly with her patients and co-workers. When I described the Vipassana experience she became really interested in going. She specifically loved the idea of not having to acknowledge anyone else at all for several weeks, to her it was like an unheard of paradise.

A lot people have different emotional energy needs and it waxes and wans within the individual. I've heard several extroverted friends mention at times that they'd rather stay home than go out. The difference is that if they still go out, they seem to get much more pleasure from it than most introverts. That doesn't mean the introvert was miserable the entire time, but they seem to miss that night alone more than the most extraverts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 AM on December 5, 2012


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