You’ve found your people. Introverts.
The Internet Is Full of Us
Socializing on our terms. Avoiding crowds and awkward small talk. Sharing our interests and hopes and fears as easily as politicians deflect questions.
American society is very much an extroverted one. Children do group projects in school. Adults have to demonstrate “teamwork” or their jobs are on the line. Singles have to mingle or else they die alone.
But on the Internet, we’re free!
The vast amount of information available to us gives us a greater understanding of how our minds work. It teaches us about our unique strengths.
We can easily share relatable memes and jokes that laugh at ourselves … and at the people who just don’t understand. Aka, the extroverts.
But There’s a Problem
Having suffered a lifetime of misunderstandings and feeling compelled to hide our true selves, it’s natural that introverts want to turn the tables.
By recognizing our own advantages, we’re rebelling against decades of expectations and standards.
We might be tempted to get cocky about our gifts and what makes introverts awesome.
We may complain about those extroverts who don’t understand, who interrupt, who encroach on our space.
Often, it’s valid. But there’s a danger to that. We can go too far and start to resemble the bullies and tyrants who mocked our quietness, solitude, or awkwardness.
We may start picking on the extroverts and criticizing their own tendencies. We might start to form unfair stereotypes–like assuming that extroverts only like to party, are all obnoxious loudmouths, or are empty-headed.
This can then prompt many extroverts, put on the defensive and at risk of losing their spotlight, to strike back with the time-honored criticisms that introverts are freaky loners who think they’re better than everyone else.
Take a Lesson From “Mean Girls”
It doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to live at odds with each other.
I’m not saying that we all need to join hands around a campfire and pretend to be happy all the time and try hard to believe that misunderstandings and conflicts never happen.
But there’s a very simple principle that can help smooth introvert-extrovert relations:
You can celebrate yourself without putting others down.
Remember the wisdom of that great American classic, Mean Girls:
Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.
Similarly, celebrating the skills of an introvert–like our listening skills and thoughtful responses–doesn’t have to involve putting down or taking away from an extrovert’s skills, like their social energy and ideas.
The Thing About Extroverts
They’re people, too.
They may have different strengths and different weaknesses.
They may talk more.
They may have different ideas of fun.
They may not always “get” the way introverts’ minds work.
But they’re not necessarily less intelligent, less thoughtful, less imaginative, less sensitive, or less kind than introverts.
True, introverts still find ourselves pressured to speak when we’d rather not, or join groups when we’d like to go solo. Not everyone understands the introvert brain.
But one of the worst things we introverts can do is get defensive and cocky and mock extroverts. That wins no one’s respect or sympathy, and just makes us look like the arrogant, antisocial douches that lots of people think introverts are.
Don’t be divisive. Leave that to the politicians.
Extroverts do not deserve to be mocked or criticized for their extroversion any more than we deserve the same for our introversion.
Our strengths and weaknesses balance each other. Both types should be celebrated.
Heck yeah, we introverts are awesome. There are great things about being an introvert. And it’s incredibly liberating to learn that we’re not broken, we just think differently. But that doesn’t give us license to be assholes to anyone.
Basically, don’t be a jerk. Be kind to the extroverts—we still need them.