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What kind of vert are you? - Tactical Ninja

May. 20th, 2014

10:17 am - What kind of vert are you?

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There's a thing that's been bugging me for a while, and I'm not sure if I can articulate it effectively. So because I'm like that, I'm going to give it a go anyway.

It's about introversion and extraversion.




So, it seems that these days, the difference between introversion and extraversion is considered to be this:

Extraverts are energised by being around other people, and their energy is drained by being alone.
Introverts are energised by being alone, and their energy is drained by being around other people.

Now, the vast majority of people I interact with claim to be introverts. Things like finding social situations difficult, enjoying alone time, needing time to think before forming opinions, finding small talk annoying, are all considered to be signs of introversion - and these are things that the majority of people I know will claim to experience. Thus - introverts.

A factor I think also influences the decision that one is an introvert is the dichotomy - introversion is set up in opposition to extraversion and one must be one or the other, apparently. And the fact is, that extraversion is seen as the majority - we assume that most people are extraverts but we're different. Also, extraversion is perceived to be more shallow than introversion - extraverts would rather talk than think, will prattle to anyone who will listen, participate easily in networking (we all know how fake that is, right?), are bad listeners, attention seekers.. the list goes on. Who'd want to think of themselves as that?

And finally, we have this perception that introverts need more understanding. Hence the plethora of 'how to look after your introvert' graphics all over the place. There are a few about how to look after extraverts, but nowhere near as many - and certainly you don't see them passed around places like Tumblr and Facebook with smug little bylines such as "Everyone should read this!"

The subtext of which seems to be: "I am an introvert and you should all make more of an effort to understand and cater to my personality."

Which in itself, isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm all for understanding people and working so that we can all get along. But when *nearly everyone* is claiming to be a certain personality type because our society has set it up as the elite minority, I start to get this perverse desire to call it.

Hence this post, I guess.

So anyway, I went through the list of 23 signs of introversion in that HuffPost article up there. Here are the ones I hit.

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.
2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.
4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.
6. You're easily distracted.

(note here: Number 7 - Downtime doesn't feel unproductive to you - contains an assumption that being alone = downtime. I spend a lot of time alone, but I'm generally gardening, making stuff, fishing, whatever. Am I an introvert or extravert based on this? Dunno)

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.

(9 doesn't work because NZ bus seats are only 2 people wide - we all sit on the end)

10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long. (if by 'active' they mean 'out and about doing stuff with people').
14. You screen all your calls -- even from friends.
15. You notice details that others don't.
16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.
20. You look at the big picture.
22. You’re a writer. (i totally am - it's part of my job, i do this damn blog every day, and have made forays into fiction)
23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.

So that's 12 of the 23. Does this mean I'm half an introvert? *is confused* - so I went looking for '23 signs you are an extravert', with my parameters being whatever's on the first page of google. Sadly, the dominant majority of extraverts don't get quite the same level of quiz-introspection opportunity as our intro friends. But I did find this one, written by an introvert (of course). It only has 15, but percentages work, right? For science? *cough*

Anyway, here's my hits:

3. You can talk about your achievements without feeling guilty.
4. You can put your personality on display and it leads to great things.
5. You can push yourself.
6. You take the career escalator.
8. You can be productive in any environment.
9. You don't put things off.
10. You can multitask like nobody's business.
11. You can focus.

So that's 8/15, or 53%. Compared with 52% on the introvert one. And weirdly, some of them seem to be in direct opposition to each other. I'm easily distracted (when surrounded by people who are all talking or things trying to get my attention) but I can focus (when I give enough of a shit about what I'm doing to zone out distractions). I mean, it's still hard but I can do it. I hate networking but I'm perfectly capable of climbing the career escalator by talking to the people who count about what's important to me. I enjoy meeting new people, but only if they approach me first - and I engage in behaviour that would be considered extraverted (dance parties, costumes) to make that happen.


So, introvert or extravert? Who knows? Most people seem to peg me as an extravert. My best guess is that it's not a dichotomy at all, as people would have us believe, but a spectrum. Some of us may fall closer to either end, but the vast majority, like me, are somewhere in the middle. I happen to believe that Dr Wheel falls closer to the introvert end of the spectrum than I do, but he still has some extraverted tendencies, and I love him for both. I want to understand both. Being introverted does not make one better, deeper, or more deserving of understanding than being extraverted, especially given that most of us lean both ways depending on situation and our own inner condition at the time.

So I kind of wish that people would remember that reading something and identifying with a significant amount of it can also be known as selection bias, and that in the case of introversion this may well come from the perception that introversion is special and more worthy of other people's effort to understand. Personally, I think it wouldn't hurt to understand a bit about all of our extraverted tendencies as well. So in order to shunt that along a bit, I found this. It's one of the rare 'How To Care For Your Extravert' pieces, and it's quite good.

I suggest reading it - there may be more to identify with in there than the world would have you believe.

Finally, that thing up there about how to care for your introvert? Seems to me that a lot of that is merely courteous behaviour that should be extended to anyone regardless of what label they apply to their personality type. Just a thought.

Comments:

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From:fbhjr
Date:May 19th, 2014 10:31 pm (UTC)
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I totally agree it is a spectrum.
Which I fall into depends entirely on the questions and my mood when I take it. I get intro about 60% of the time and Extro about 40%.

And, I also agree that basic courtesy should apply to all.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 19th, 2014 11:36 pm (UTC)
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I think your second sentence is probably true for a lot of people. One of the things I read said that introverts make only about 15% of the population but are 60% of the 'gifted'. Oddly enough, they didn't cite their sources.
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From:rivet
Date:May 19th, 2014 11:04 pm (UTC)
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I find that I am less extroverted as time goes on. Or perhaps more respectful of my introvert tendencies and recognise that when I'm done with 'being on' for people I am DONE and I need to retreat for a while. (don't worry, you don't count as people)
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From:tatjna
Date:May 19th, 2014 11:35 pm (UTC)
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If anything now I have a solid community that accepts me regardless of labels, I have more confidence to go out and do things with new people - but conversely to that I'm also better at recognising and acting on the need for downtime.

I am becoming more of everything!
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From:pombagira
Date:May 19th, 2014 11:53 pm (UTC)
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i keep coming up with the word Balance.. i like people and can talk to anybody pretty much.. but also need my down time.. so maybe its about finding your (in a general sense) own balancing point.. and instead of it being solid one or other it is actually both to varying degrees

*ponders this*
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From:girlguitarist
Date:May 19th, 2014 11:30 pm (UTC)
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These things seem to think that introverted and social avoidance are the same things, when they really aren't. (I happen to be both, but know more introverts who AREN'T the latter). I've also seen that "easily distracted" thing pop up a few times and have no idea where that came from. If we're supposed to be so introspective, why would we get distracted?

I definitely agree on the spectrum thing, just like sexuality. It's almost as though humans are complex! ;)

I had to ask Cam what he was and he barely even knew. He's some weird in between where he's introverted but compensates by being extroverted. There are so many damn options.
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From:tatjna
Date:May 19th, 2014 11:33 pm (UTC)
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I looked at the 'easily distracted' thing in the sense that if I'm in a place where there are lots of things making noise and competing for my attention, I have trouble focusing on any single one of them for any length of time. Like, at a meeting if more than one person is trying to make a point in lively discussion, I struggle to understand what anyone is saying, and can only follow the discussion if I completely screen out all but one person's voice. Otherwise, I'm easily distracted.

As opposed to, say, walking down the street and "Oh look, squirrel!"
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From:mundens
Date:May 20th, 2014 12:54 am (UTC)
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LJ needs a like button! :)
There's a lot of comments above and your original discussion itself, Wendy, that I just want to express my agreement with!



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From:jvmatucha
Date:May 20th, 2014 01:08 am (UTC)
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It seems to me there's an introvert fad, where a lot of people who feel awkwarad are waving introvert flags around, insisting on being identified as an introvert, and prattling on about introvertism.

This seems to be a mostly Facebook phenomena. Sure, I can understand that there are introverts and some of them are probably my FB friends, but constantly waving an introvert flag in everyone's faces makes me wonder if they really are, or if they just want to be that special snowflake.

http://happyplace.someecards.com/omg-thats-so-you/signs-that-you-are-neither-an-introvert-nor-an-extrovert/
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From:tatjna
Date:May 20th, 2014 01:16 am (UTC)
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That link is awesome.
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From:ms_hecubus
Date:May 20th, 2014 01:55 pm (UTC)
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That is the best thing I've read on the internet in a long time.

...off to spam my FB with it!
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From:didotwite
Date:May 21st, 2014 06:02 am (UTC)
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hah i should read all the comments. jinx.
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From:crazedturkey
Date:May 20th, 2014 04:39 am (UTC)
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I read that huffing ton post thing and a lot of it applies to me and I'm a CLASSIC extrovert.

I need quiet time, sure but I'm a person who thrives in company. So, lol.
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From:ms_hecubus
Date:May 20th, 2014 01:50 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, that thing is a load of crap. Those things are good manners, not special privileges for introverts only. If you're doing the opposite of that list, interrupting someone for example, just because you view them as an extrovert than you are an ass.

Most people are both introverted and extroverted at the same time. People who truly wear the label introvert are extreme personality types. I view it more as a disorder (same with extreme extroversion) than something an everyday person experiences. These stupid internet memes are harmful, in my opinion. Until all this crap came about how many people really gave it much thought? And now how many are trying to twist things in their lives to fit one or the other because you must define yourself?</p>

If you asked almost anyone who knows me they'd say I'm an extrovert. I have a big personality. I'm in the center of things, and it's easy for me to lead be it a conversation or a workplace. That doesn't mean I never get burned out and need to be alone. It doesn't mean that mean I want to be put on stage while I'm trying to learn new skills or that I never go home at night and kick myself for being too loud or taking over the conversation. It doesn't matter what evidence I'm given that people like my company I'm still as plagued with doubts as any wallflower.

So can we stop these memes please? We are all human and are trying to do our best to get along without stepping on each other.

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From:misshapen_fro
Date:May 21st, 2014 02:33 am (UTC)
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As someone who fits very well in the "introvert" box, it definitely feels like a disorder to me. I have real trouble escaping from my thoughts to get anything done, and intense periods of social interaction/activity (like, for instance, driving several hours to attend a concert or even taking a vacation, both of which are activities that I enjoy) leaves me completely emotionally drained for days afterward. And my verbal communication skills go down the toilet when I'm too drained. I almost can't talk to people if my brain has decided I'm done talking to people for the day. It's a real inconvenience.
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From:tieke
Date:May 20th, 2014 09:32 pm (UTC)
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Psychology in general seems to be about taking behavioural spectra and putting them into boxes with labels. Which I guess is necessary when you need diagnostic criteria for the prescription of drugs, etc, but it's not so great when it becomes a social phenomenon where everyone feels the need to be in, and put their friends in, those boxes.
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From:misshapen_fro
Date:May 21st, 2014 02:20 am (UTC)
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I definitely feel like I am very much on the introverted side of the spectrum, but I agree that most people I know seem to be in-betweenoverts.

I actually really value my extrovert friends, though. They seem to actually want to hang out with me and they try to drag me out into the world, which is good. I definitely don't think they're shallow or self-obsessed or anything (honestly, I may be the most self-obsessed person I know. Doesn't introversion imply spending a lot of time wrapped up in your own head, anyway?). Extroverts, in my experience, are really nice and genuinely caring and generally fun to be around. I wish I had natural social graces like them, honestly.
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From:meri_sielu
Date:May 21st, 2014 09:12 am (UTC)
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It's definitely a spectrum, I would say I am more introverted as I definitely get fed up of being around people constantly without any time to just bubble and read a book or something, even people I love but at the same time I get lonely if I don't get enough time with those people. I'm like a cat, I think I want to go out but as soon as I am out I want to go back in again, I generally just struggle in general without needing a label for it... but if I have to peg myself I would say 70% introvert 30% extravert.
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From:eska_rina
Date:May 22nd, 2014 06:36 pm (UTC)
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I have it with the extrovert/introvert thing as I have it with astrology signs: the descriptions are usually so vague and general that there's usually at least one thing most people can identify with. Am I an introvert or an extrovert? Mmm, dunno. How about "I'm an adult who sometimes enjoy spending time with people and sometimes enjoy being alone and get energy from both things, 'cause, surprise, they are both things I enjoy! Tada!"

...I'm a little bit tired of the whole, idk, "victim complex" that some self-declared introverts express, tbh. I'm sure there are some people who falls into one of the "poles" - both introvert and extrovert -, but then we're talking about people who most likely have some sort of disorder, and not 99,9999% of the people who go *~oh wow i'm such an introvert, I'm soooo quirky and weird, you should aaaall change your behaviour to please me, blah blah blah~* on whichever blogging platform they like to use (fortunately I haven't run into people using this dichotomy offline; udadvendt/indadvendt, as we call it in Danish, aren't as polarized). Ahem.
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From:pundigrion
Date:June 2nd, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC)
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Do think it seems to be a bit of fad lately, although I also think there are likely more introverts than extroverts anyhow, so I'm not sure why this is supposed to be "special"

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