Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why Do Introverts Fear...?

The computer reports that somebody out there found this web site by searching for answers to the question, “Why do introverted people fear...?”

Unfortunately the computer doesn’t show what this reader believes introverts fear. Anyway, this is one of the questions that haven’t been addressed at this web site, but should be.

First of all: this is definitely a question it’s better to ask Google than to ask any real person. In real life, it’s an obnoxious question. Individuals have fears. Large groups of people defined by demographic traits do not have fears. Even in the kind of political discussion where people casually say things like “Older voters fear Candidate X’s Social Security plan,” such casualness is sloppy; even if you know fifty older voters who said they did fear the X Plan, you probably also know two or three who were saying, “The X Plan would solve some problems! Bring it on!”

Introverts have, however, had to deal with a lot of misunderstanding based on the now disproved assumption that introverts are really just shy extroverts. Which is further evidence that introverts qualify as a true “victim” demographic group, like ethnic minorities or women. The easiest way around society’s discrimination against your group is to try to be perceived as a member of the oppressor group. Back when people grew up hearing that “women don’t” have/need this or that kind of job/talent/freedom, there were sane heterosexual women who didn’t bother with sociological analyses of how these stereotypes came to be but just told their male colleagues to “Think me a man: my soul is masculine.” Similarly, during the Advertising Age when people grew up hearing that salesmanship was more important in any job than skill, talent, or character, there were basically sane introverts who grew up hearing “All people should enjoy party chatter more than they enjoy working or thinking,” who internalized the misbelief that they were quiet because they were shy, because they had some sort of unnatural, unfounded fear of other people.

If your experience of “other people” is that they’re always trying to tell you that there’s something profoundly wrong with you, then although it might be reasonable to try to replace fear with confidence in your ability to defend yourself by any means necessary, it’s reasonable not to like “other people.” When introverts (usually young introverts) are shy, they fear being recognized as members of a despised victim group and attacked as such, usually because that’s the experience they’ve had in social situations such as school. However, the more we succeed at accepting ourselves and bonding with other self-accepting introverts, the more clearly we see that what we feel toward our verbal abusers is not fear but contempt.

We recognize that if extroverts really do “like people,” rather than needing constant distractions from their own emotional pain,  they’ll like us, too, just the way we are. The fact that most extroverts don’t like us just the way we are shows that their “outgoing” behavior has nothing to do with liking people, but is merely a defense against their fear, pain, and shame. Since introversion is defined by positive hereditary neurological traits extroverts lack, it’s likely that most extroverts do live with chronic fear, pain, and shame produced by some subliminal awareness of their neurological inadequacy. They cope by trying to identify defects in other people and make those people feel inadequate, too.

Only if these extroverts’ bullying is physically dangerous is there any need to fear such transparent cowardice, and unless we were brought up on sentimental Humanist malarkey about their needing (or deserving) to have self-esteem, there’s no particular reason not to humiliate these would-be verbal abusers. When people are determined to put their own inadequacies on parade, showing them up is so-o-o easy.

Nevertheless, as long as young introverts buy into the haters’ Big Lie about our being isolated freaks doomed to a lifetime of bad relationships with “people,” it should surprise nobody that these young individual introverts fear social interaction. You would, too, if most of your social interactions featured nasty little reminders that something is inexplicably, profoundly, permanently wrong with you...even though, if you are an extrovert, that happens to be true.