Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to Converse With Your Friendly Neighborhood Introvert


Oh whoops -- hey.  Didn't see you.

Hello.

You're one of those introverts, right?  You don't smile and you hate people?

And a jolly good day to you, too, sir.

Well you are, aren't you?

Insofar as we are a "type," I guess so.

So it's true you don't know how to be happy?

False.  Introverts are as capable of happiness as anyone else.

Then why does the media keep saying you're miserable?

Probably because most of the media never look past the surface.  They see us standing by ourselves, not talking, and go "OMG, they must be sooooooo sad!1!1!1"  But the thing is, we're not sad by nature.  I like spending time alone and not talking.  It makes me happy.  But somehow the media got it in their collective bubble head that if I'm not parading around drunk and topless on a homecoming float, if I'm not talking trash about my friends, my life choices are not worthy of attention, much less respect.

Huh?

You stopped listening after "probably," didn't you?

*guilty silence*

You bumped into me because you didn't see me -- even though I'm in an Iron Man costume.

Oh... cool!

But because I was just minding my own business, not smiling, not in your face with my chatter, I became invisible to you.  Since the media have cemented in our heads that the only people worth paying attention to are loud and in your face, I am best ignored.  And if I'm ignored, I must be sad.

If you're not sad, why aren't you smiling?

Have you tried smiling every time you're happy?  It hurts after a while.  Not smiling is just a person's resting expression -- it doesn't have to mean anything.  You could be happy, miserable, surprised, curious, whatever.  You don't have to look like a circus clown.    

But how am I supposed to know how you feel?

What does it matter?

Because unhappy people bring me down!

I didn't realize it was my responsibility to keep up your spirits.  Believe it or not, smiling does not automatically equal happy.  A lot of the smiliest people you know could be miserable.  It's just that they've done a good job internalizing the media's message, or at least giving the media what they want.  You know when people claim that "Brad" has so much "personality" even though they've only known him for five minutes?  It's bullshit.  They're not seeing Brad's personality -- his real personality -- but an act that Brad has put on to fool them.  Whereas when people complain that certain introverts have no personality, what they're really complaining about is that these introverts don't put on acts.  We don't try to entertain.  We unspool our true personalities bit by bit as you get to know us.  

Happy people are miserable?  You're blowing my mind!

Sorry.

No wonder no one wants to be around you!

Then they won't have many places to go.  Introverts are one-third to one-half of the population.

That's creepy!  What are miserable people like you even good for?

Leadership, believe it or not.  Yes, it shocked the media to learn that people who don't need to talk every minute are really good listeners.  When we're not constantly bombarded by the echo of our own voices, we're more willing to consider other people's ideas and reflect upon the best approach.

LaLALa!  I'm not listening!

Shock.  Don't you even want to know why I'm dressed like Iron Man?

Nope!  Nada!  Talk to the hand!  *runs off*

Too bad he didn't run in the other direction.  There are a lot of introverts at Comic-Con.  


The above photo was taken by Marcus Quigmire from Wikimedia Commons.  Use of the photo does not mean the author endorses this post.

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