Thursday, June 5, 2014

Introducing a New Segment: Through an Introvert's Lens

Coming soon to this blog: a feature where I examine certain media for how they treat introverts.

Much like my Movie Musicals and Unpopular Opinions, I hope that this will be recurring.  Each time, I intend to look at a character (or an individual if the media involves real people), what that person does, how prominent that person is, and how other people view that person.  I think it offers a great opportunity to truly see how introverted people fare in the media, rather than fall back on assumptions or stereotypes.

And though I don't exactly have a degree in behavioral science, I am going to try and do this in a structured manner.  First thing's first:

Define "Introvert"

Merriam-Webster defines an introvert as "one whose personality is characterized by introversion; a reserved or shy person."  Introversion is "the state or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life."

By contrast, this article rejects the idea that introverts are shy, because "[s]hyness has an element of apprehension, nervousness, and anxiety," while introversion does not.  Rather, an introvert is "a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people."  An introvert may like to interact with people, but the conversations are more likely to involve "ideas and concepts" than "trivial" small talk.

Quiet by Susan Cain notes that a quarter to half of the general population is introverted.  A majority of gifted people are introverted.

In general, introverts prefer deep reflection, thinking before speaking, observing to being the center of attention.  They celebrate victories with a few friends, or prefer one-on-one conversations to being with large groups.  Pressure can leave introverts flustered, and many prefer to have long stretches of uninterrupted time to work on projects.  

What Introverts Are Not

While most gifted people are introverts, not all of them are.  So you can be an introvert and not be academically brilliant, an artist, a computer prodigy, or a writer.

Also, while many introverts are outcasts, they are not one and the same.  It is possible to be a social misfit and not be introverted.

Finally, introverts are not, by nature, depressed.  An individual who suddenly becomes withdrawn may be depressed, but not necessarily an introvert.  Introversion is a personality trait, not a problem with mental health.

Intentions For This Feature

As I mentioned above, with each feature, I intend to do the following:

1.  See whether the specific media has any introverts.

2.  Examine the introvert's prominence in the media.

3.  Examine the introvert's actions.

4.  Examine how people respond to the introvert.

5.  Examine the introvert's reward/punishment compared to the more extroverted characters.

6.  In certain cases, examine the absence of introversion.  

What Do I Hope to Learn?      

First, I hope to get a better idea of how introverts are treated in the media.  I also want to see what patterns are exhibited by the media at large, and what message media consumers might take from them.  Finally, to the extent that introverts are mistreated by the media, I hope to shine a light on that mistreatment and provide insights as to how introverts can be treated as equals.  

That said, since I'm no scientist, I'm sure I'll get a ton of shit wrong.  Let's get started!

Next Time: Introversion in Wicked.

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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