Introverts: The Lost Species

Have you noticed? Introverts do not exist; they’re just extroverts who need social adjustment. Yes, we’ve heard about them, but they’re as rare as unicorns, right? Remember having the term explained when a child? It went something like “Extroverts like people, introverts don’t.” Ask most adults and they’ll parrot the same explanation. No one wants to be thought of as not liking people, so this definition causes introverts to hide from who they are. With such a definition, we are writing off 50% of the population, not just a few “weirdos.” This needs to change.

The issue we face is that many people think introverts just have an “attitude problem” and need to relax more. Go to an office party and there will be references to the “party poopers” who don’t actively join in on the activities. We make fun of them, and we even sometimes think we’re helping them by pushing them to attend activities they see as undesirable. After all, once there they will see how much fun the party is and they will change to be like the rest of us. Right? And we probably even anticipate they will thank us for liberating them from their sad existence.

Not true? Too harsh? Rethink your own experiences, review what you see on TV or other media. The message is always to “have fun.” When an organization wants to reward people, it throws a party for them. If the organization wants the people to participate, it forms a party committee. Who volunteers for the committee? The extroverts: people who want a dinner/dance, Saturday night, dress up, entertainment. The assumption is that everyone will enjoy it — such expectations are doomed.

The reality is that introverts like people as must as anyone else; they just prefer substance in the relationship. Engage them in a discussion on the weather, football scores or a TV show and they will quickly excuse themselves or stand mute while you talk. Engage them on a topic where there is the possibility of change or involvement and they will be active participants. Give them an opportunity to solve a problem and they’ll be indebted for life.

This problem will not be solved; I only speak to it. The extroverts of the world will continue partying and thinking everyone else likes parties. Acceptance and understanding of introverts is not on any agenda and is not in the forecast. After all, the media send that message and marketing efforts also tend to embrace fun and parties. Introverts are doomed to lives of isolation and misunderstanding, or a life of pretending to be other than who they are. Sad.