Thursday, July 25, 2013

An Open Letter to (Some) Introverts

I'm not sure what has caused the recent outcry from introverts across the world, but I am seeing multiple posts every single week--almost daily--from many who seem very unhappy with pretty much all extroverts. Some of it is quite caustic.

It's confusing to me, most significantly in the way it lumps all extroverts into the same category of those who would lump all introverts into the same category (which, of course, is pointed out as wrong, because it IS wrong, but it's wrong on both sides of the argument).

Most of them are annoyed by how they are categorized as anti-social or dysfunctional in some way since "normal society" demands that you behave as an extrovert to have any level of success in life. First, I think that's an unfair assessment. I could list hundreds of highly successful introverts who I don't believe would feel violated in their introversion (just from my personal list of friends and family). Did they get a little more tired in their efforts to meet with people and communicate in whatever ways were necessary to achieve success? Probably. But they're not angry about it. That would be no more justified than extroverts who have to be alone from time to time getting angry at everyone who isn't sitting right next to them and cheering them on.

Extroverts are not your enemy. At least, not all extroverts. And just like you don't like being lumped into whatever category you assume we all put you in (anti-social, loner, dysfunctional, etc.), we don't appreciate being viewed as obnoxious, in-your-face, over-the-top, pushy, etc. Is it fair to say we're not all like that just because we're extroverts? Just like you, God designed us the way he designed us. We didn't ask for our unique personalities any more than you did. We were born with it. But some many of us know how to be respectful of introverts. (I'm married to one!) Just keep in mind that there is no blinking light above your head indicating that you are one, so if we happen to speak to you, it isn't meant as an attack. We just didn't know. For most of us, if you give us a sign that you aren't interested in talking, we'll back off. But that doesn't mean a friendly hello or a necessary interaction for the purpose of accomplishing something that requires communication makes us evil.

I'm certain there are plenty of incredibly annoying, even hateful extroverts in the world, but let's not make their extroversion the crime. There are introverts who hide in their mother's basement and prey on children. That doesn't make you one of them. 

On behalf of extroverts everywhere, I apologize if you have been mistreated, but may I humbly suggest that your experience may have had much less to do with introversion/extroversion and much more to do with someone maybe just being a jerk? And just for the sake of argument, may I add that some of the most vile and painful words I've ever had directed at me have come from introverts who like to sit alone and attack people through their keyboards? But I know that doesn't mean you're all like them. Let's not dismiss entire categories of people from our lives based on assumption. God made us different on purpose. I don't know why--maybe just to give us more opportunities to practice grace. Just a thought.


Unknown said...

I was wondering if us linear thinkers could start a thread of mean comments about global thinkers. And, that could include side comments comparing linear and in the box. Then we're going geometric - line, square, circle. Cool, huh?
Makes about as much sense!

Becky said...

I like this.

A lot!

I'm an introverted extrovert (does that even make sense?). I love people and being around them and talking with them, but I recharge by myself or with one other person.

I think myers briggs just exploded ;)