A companion piece to: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696/
Do you know someone who often wants to be in the company of other people? Who is overly emotionally expressive and too dynamic in conversation and large groups alike? Who begs to go out to parties and then actually expects intimate interaction afterward? Who tries to be nice and interested in your thoughts or activities and is annoyingly hurt when you tell them to fuck off?
If so, do you tell this person that she makes a joke out of life and that she’s not okay? Regard her as tedious, stupid, and irritating? Redouble your efforts to avoid her at any cost?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an extrovert on your hands—and that you’re probably a moron for having anything to do with them. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of extroverts,and unfortunately it has found that moderate extroverts tend to be unexplainably attractive to introverts because the combination brings balance to a relationship. It has even been learned, by means of brain scans, that extroverts process information differently from other people (in the same manner as a kickable chihuahua). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Extroverts are entirely too common, but they are also amazingly transparent and imperially easy to navigate .
I know. My name is Vapid, and I am an extrovert.
Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I spend a lot of time in serious contemplation, but still enjoy discussing my thoughts with other people. Usually. I don’t require being around other people at every waking moment. I love taking time to research and think about an idea before I share it. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues, though of course, they already knew. In doing so, I have found out that the introverts who enjoy being around me actually find me annoying, unbearable, and shallow. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond insultingly and insensitively to your own extroverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, loathe, and are forced to interact with every day is an extrovert, and you are probably not trying hard enough to not understand them. It pays to learn the warning signs.
What is extroversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Extroverts are not necessarily intelligent. Intelligent people are quiet and observation-oriented in social situations; extroverts generally are like rabid skunks running in mad circles or retarded children who always want to ask questions about everything. Extroverts are also not very deep, though some of us have occasionally tried a hand at intelligent thought and failed miserably. Rather, extroverts are people who try to communicate with others and enjoy learning to see things from another perspective, even though they are generally too imbecilic to actually do or say anything worthwhile.
Extroverts are clingy and codependent, and wilt or fade when alone. They are always bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and she will start slobbering in a complete narcissistic collapse. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,” introverts need to turn off, recharge, and completely ignore their obligations to other people. My own formula is roughly five days for every moment I have to exist without someone stronger and smarter than me to ignore my existence. This is what being social means. It is a sign of an unhinged brain. It calls for medication, preferably a strong one like Valium to make them quiet down. For extroverts, to be alone with our thoughts is terrifying and induces night terrors. Our motto: “I’m okay, you’re better than me so please surround me with your Godly presence.”
How many people are extroverts? I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: too fucking many.
Are extroverts misunderstood? Not at all. This is your one advantage for learning to avoid us. “It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert,” write the education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig. Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts are rather like a large dog who needs fed and their belly scratched and won’t get off of the bed at night when you’re trying to sleep. In fact, they are so completely stupid and eager for approval that they will trust you with personal thoughts that you can later laugh at in private. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion, probably because they lack the cognitive reasoning for- well, virtually anything. They enjoy the company of others and are unable to maintain executive function if they do not have explicit instruction on how to eat or brush their own teeth. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to introverts, I usually get really confused and start talking about things like Paris Hilton and the time my great-uncle killed a polar bear with a sharp stick in Montana. Generally they sigh and roll their eyes and walk away without saying anything at all.
Are extroverts oppressive? I would have to say so. For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which introverts have no interest because they have more important things to do. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon—is merely to drive home the point. Nixon’s fatal character flaw of excessive paranoia had less to do with his downfall than his introversion. And Coolidge was so unpopular as a President that they put his face on a coin during his lifetime to simply to make him uncomfortable whenever he was asked about it. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I’ve read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered “naturals” in politics, and have pressing matters to be attended to rather than attempting to win positions of power.
Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If introverts ran the world, it might be possible to pass legislation requiring extroverts have their tongues cut out at age ten. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, “Don’t you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?” (He is also supposed to have said, “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it.” If extroverts would listen to this advice, there wouldn’t be annoying wives and girlfriends who want to talk about the lack of communication in their relationship. He told you back in 2002 that he loves you, you can assume it’s still true.) Because extroverts are so superficial, dumb, and easy, it is a statistical impossibility that any of them enjoy quiet solitude or have any intellectual ideas about how to improve the world. All they’ve likely done is gone out and walked among other extroverts who are too stupid to know what is good for them, either.
With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore not seen as annoying, a mark of incompetence, egotism, and a know-it-all mentality. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic, because they have such an undesirable habit of sharing their thoughts with others instead of assuming everyone else will just read their minds. “People person” is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like “guarded,” “loner,” “reserved,” “taciturn,” “self-contained,” “private”—awful words which are terribly, terribly unfair, because they hold absolutely no truth- how can simply not stating your ideas or thoughts in the public forum possibly be considered private? Female extroverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can sometimes get away with expressing his opinion and not be called gay or stupid; extroverted women, doe-eyed and emotionally expressive, are even more likely to be used, made fun of, and taken advantage of for their inherent trust in other people.
Are extroverts worthless? Only most of the time. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being less intelligent, less reflective, completely codependent, prone to histrionics, simpletons, and less sensitive than introverts. Also, it is probably due to our interest in other people’s accomplishments and well-being, an interest that introverts rightly regard as infantile. We tend to not think, whereas introverts could solve all the problems of the world if we weren’t so unimportant that it’s more entertaining to watch us run around like chickens with our heads caught off, which is why introverts use them solely as PR people. “Introverts,” writes a perceptive fellow named Thomas P. Crouser, in an online review of a recent book called Why Should Extroverts Make All the Money? (I’m not makingthat up, either), “are driven to distraction by the semi-internal dialogue extroverts tend to conduct. Introverts don’t outwardly complain, instead roll their eyes and silently curse the darkness.” Extroverts have such lower-functioning brains that they are incapable of actually forming an opinion, and stating their thoughts out loud is the only way to have an introvert explain that they are completely wrong.
The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put introverts through. Sometimes, as extroverts enthusiastically try to explain things important to them, the amount of stupidity in their thinking is unimaginable. Still, introverts are heroic examples of superiority, so they will, on occasion, mercifully entertain the uninformed ramblings of an extrovert so that the extrovert will not be quite as sad about their meaningless existence. We can only dream that someday, when the condition has been cured by science, no one will feel the need to try and develop close connections or operate on anything less than an intellectual level- experiential be damned.
How can I let the extrovert in my life know that I will tolerate their barking for no more than five minutes? First, recognize that it’s not a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s a disability.
Second, when you encounter an extrovert trying to engage you in animated conversation, smile politely and block them out.
Third, if you avoid eye contact and speaking for long enough, they will eventually understand the pointlessness of their existence and go off to weep with a circle of equally annoying friends.
Unless, of course, they are attractive and charismatic, in which case you can probably use them as a mouth piece for your own brilliant ideas instead of trying to personally communicate your superiority to the rest of the miserable, stupid world.