Why Are Introverts Misunderstood In Modern American Society

American society values and deifies extroversion. Extroverts represents the societal idea of friendliness, gregariousness, and get up and go. Extroverts are viewed more positively than introverts.
American society values and deifies extroversion. Extroverts represents the societal idea of friendliness, gregariousness, and get up and go. Extroverts are viewed more positively than introverts.
Extroverted people are viewed as more popular and normal. They are viewed as more intelligent and trustworthy.  They are also seen as leaders because of their outgoing personalities.
Extroverted people are viewed as more popular and normal. They are viewed as more intelligent and trustworthy. They are also seen as leaders because of their outgoing personalities.
On the other hand, introverts are often underestimated and overlooked in our extroverted society. Introverts are often viewed as weird, loners, losers, and  backwards.
On the other hand, introverts are often underestimated and overlooked in our extroverted society. Introverts are often viewed as weird, loners, losers, and backwards.
Introverts are often viewed as "the other".They are told that something is wrong with them.  In our social society, they are viewed as anti-social, withdrawn, and shy.
Introverts are often viewed as "the other".They are told that something is wrong with them. In our social society, they are viewed as anti-social, withdrawn, and shy.
Introverted children are considered to be "abnormal" by parents,teachers,and other adult figures.They are oftentimes considered to be developmentally inept and backwards. Many parents are ashamed of them as they are not "like other children."
Introverted children are considered to be "abnormal" by parents,teachers,and other adult figures.They are oftentimes considered to be developmentally inept and backwards. Many parents are ashamed of them as they are not "like other children."
Many parents want their introverted children to conform to the societal extroverted idea so they push their children to be extroverted.  As a result of this, many introverted children feel invalidated and suffer from low self-esteem.
Many parents want their introverted children to conform to the societal extroverted idea so they push their children to be extroverted. As a result of this, many introverted children feel invalidated and suffer from low self-esteem.
Introverted teenagers have to deal with double dilemmas of introversion and adolescence. Oftentimes, they are misunderstood by their more extroverted peers.
Introverted teenagers have to deal with double dilemmas of introversion and adolescence. Oftentimes, they are misunderstood by their more extroverted peers.
Many introverted teenagers are often unpopular &outsiders because their interests differ diametrically from that of their extroverted peers.
Many introverted teenagers are often unpopular &outsiders because their interests differ diametrically from that of their extroverted peers.
Besides being misunderstood by their peers, many introverted teenagers are also misunderstood by their parents.In their parents' eyes, they are NOT behaving like normal teenagers should act.
Besides being misunderstood by their peers, many introverted teenagers are also misunderstood by their parents.In their parents' eyes, they are NOT behaving like normal teenagers should act.
In the work environment, introverts have their abilities underestimated.Although they are good to excellent employees, they are bypassed for promotions because they do not possess extroverted characteristics.They are often seen as subpar by others.
In the work environment, introverts have their abilities underestimated.Although they are good to excellent employees, they are bypassed for promotions because they do not possess extroverted characteristics.They are often seen as subpar by others.
Introverts are quite content pursuing more quieter hobbies and activities.However, they are constantly admonished to loosen up, get out of their shell, and socialize more. They DO socialize-within LIMITS...
Introverts are quite content pursuing more quieter hobbies and activities.However, they are constantly admonished to loosen up, get out of their shell, and socialize more. They DO socialize-within LIMITS...

CELEBRATED INTROVERTS

Introverts are in good company. Famous introverts include: Clint Eastwood
Introverts are in good company. Famous introverts include: Clint Eastwood
Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks
Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan
The late Princess Grace of Monaco a/k/a Grace Kelly
The late Princess Grace of Monaco a/k/a Grace Kelly
and Meryl Streep.
and Meryl Streep.

Introverts Are Not Weird Wackos, Just Different

American society from the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st century prize and respect extroversion. The popular image of Americans is the happy, outgoing extrovert who is a friendly outgoing person who loves to be in the go and be surrounded by lots of people. Magazines and other media such as movies and television shows depict this image. The underlying theme of many commercials is how to be pleasing to as many people as possible. The typical image of the American child is the popular, gregarious child who has lots of friends.

Extroversion has always been deified in American society. People view extroverts more positively than they do introverts. Extroverts are people who can be trusted. People are more likely to choose extroverts as leaders and in other authoritative positions because they represent intelligence and authority. Furthermore, people perceive extroverts as possessing excellent people and social skills. Social scientists, especially sociologists and psychologists mandate that man's national status as that of a social animal who needs constant contact with people in order to thrive.

Introverts, on the contrary, are viewed more negatively by modern American society. Introverts are seen as psychotic people who have a personality defect. Until recently, they were derided by people as weirdos, backwards, socially challenged, standoffish, abnormal, withdrawn, and other pejorative adjectives. Teachers even considered introverted children to be socially retarded, needing psychological counselling and therapy. Parents, too, are not so reasonable regarding their introverted children. Many times parents are ashamed of their introverted children, wishing that they were more extroverted "like normal children are."

Often, well-meaning and well-intentioned parents damage the self-esteem of introverted children by enrolling him/her in various activities "in order to meet and socialize with other children" when he/she is happier being alone, reading a book and/or indulging in solitary activities. These are the same parents who force their introverted children to play outside with other children. Many an introvert adult bristle when remembering their childhood which this happens. While they preferred reading and playing in their rooms, their parents often forced them to play outside. If they do not wish to play outside, their parents told them to be more like "normal children" which oftentimes irrevocably damages their self-worth.

Introverted children should not be forced to be extroverts. Recent psychological studies show that introverts are wired and respond to the environment differently than extroverts. In other words, an introvert cannot be an extrovert. However, this is what many parents of introvert children do. To reiterate, this is wrong. Parents should embrace their introverted children as they are for they have special gifts.

Introverted teenagers have a very difficult time of it. They are enduring with double issues of adolescence and introversion. Introverted teenagers are not understood by their peers and their parents. They are often the unpopular in high school because their personalities are usually diametrically opposite to that of the typical extroverted teenagers who is outgoing and more popular with plenty of friends and extracurricular activities. They are usually derided, pitied, and oftentimes avoided by more extroverted classmates because they have different interests.

In movies, the introverted teenager is viewed at the outsider, the geek, and/or the weirdo. I shall name two movies as an example. In PEGGY SUE GETS MARRIED, the character Richard Norvick is an introvert who is a math and science genius. In high school, he was an unpopular loner who was ostracized by his more popular classmates. He was even nicknamed a four-eyed worm by one of the more popular classmates. In ROMY AND MICHELLE HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, Heather Mooney, an introvert, was totally derided by the more popular classmates in her high school. She also was a very smart science genius who matched to her own drummer.

Besides derision from their peers, many introverted teenagers receive little or no support from their parents. Many parents of introverted adolescents view them as colorless with no personality and compare them to their more extroverted peers. One of my co-workers at a social service agency constantly compared her introverted daughter in her teenage years to a more extroverted classmate. This co-worker remarked that her introverted daughter had very low self-esteem; however, she consistently gloated how this extroverted classmate(now a celebrity) was so outgoing and participated in school plays, wishing that her daughter would be like her.

Introverted teenagers are often not seen as authoritative and assertive like their more extroverted peers. Introverted teenagers are seldom considered leaders by their peers and teachers alike. I remember in my high school, the most extroverted teenagers were selected by their peers in authoritative positions in student government even though they were more qualified introverted teens. It was mistakenly assumed that the more talkative person have the skills to lead which is often is not the case.

Even as adults, introverts are considered subpar to the extrovert. Because they do not want to indulge in small and petty conversation, people consider them antisocial and cold. In many jobs, introverts are not considered supervisory, management, and executive material because they are deemed too quiet and unobtrusive. Many people in the workplace have the stereotypical belief that a boss has to be loud and pushy to motivate employees to produce. Oftentimes, the opposite is true.

In social situations, introverts are told that "they should go out and socialize more". Many introverts do socialize; however, they need lots of alone time to recuperate. Conversely, there are introverts who love spending their offtime home alone either reading or engaging in other solitary hobbies. Contrary to myth, introverts are not shy and do like to interface with people but they also value being alone. Being alone is not an anathema to introverts as it is to extroverts. Introverts enjoy being alone as they are very comfortable in their skins. Many introverts consider a perfect weekend as being at home with a good book and/or listening to a good CD.

Recently, there is a recognition of introversion as a legitimate personality type. It is about time! There is a greater appreciation, or at least acceptance, of the introvert than it has been in modern American society. Studies show that introverts are usually more creative and thoughtful than extroverts. Introverts have good empathic and listening skills than extroverts do not have. Introverts usually do not have to constantly the center of attention that extroverts must be. Introverts are usually more self-assured as they do not have to constantly prove themselves or try to conform as extroverts do.

Psychological studies substantiate that 70% of gifted children are introverts. Introverts have other special gifts i.e. being able to think outside the box. Psychologist Marti Olsen Laney maintained that introverts usually face life changes such as old age, retirement, illness, and other life changes easier than extroverts. Dr. Laney explained that this is because extroverts usually have a faster life pace than introverts and they find it difficult to adjust to a slower pace of life.

In terms of relationships and friendships, introverts usually have a smaller circle of friends; however, their friendships are often intense and more sincere. Introverts, because of their listening skills, have more intense, intimate relationships with their spouses and children. Introverts usually do not have relationship and intimate issues because they are not scattered and have the power to focus on one thing at a time. Introverts usually value quality over quantity in relationships.

Advice to introverts: Never estimate yourself or your talents. You have more emotional and psychological resources and knowledge than you know. When people get more involved with introverts, they are usually surprised at what introverts can usually do! It is not the extroverts who necessarily knows the most! Introverts have talents that most people cannot fathom!

Contrary to what people believe, many noted people and celebrities can be classified as introverts. They include Bill Gates, Microsoft CEO; Warren Buffett, business executive; Clint Eastwood, actor/producer; Meryl Streep, multiple Award Winning actress; Woody Allen, prolific producer; Tom Hanks, prolific, multiple Award Winning actor/producer; the late Charles Bronson, actor; the late Princess Grace of Monaco a/k/a Grace Kelly, Award Winning actress; Candice Bergen, actress; geniuses Michaels Jordan and Jackson; the great Katherine Hepburn, Award Winning actress; and Michelle Pfeiffer, actress. Introverts are great and wondrous people and it is about time that they are finally appreciated for their own personas.

© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams

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Comments 28 comments

Ben 5 years ago

Awesome, I really enjoyed this. We introverts are rarely appreciated in general. But sometimes it's an advantage to be underestimated by the extroverts; you get to blow their feeble minds when you do something really awesome when they least expect it! :)


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

To Ben: I concur with this completely. Extroverts, especially children, maintain that introverts are so behind and not with it; however, when we speak, the idiots are so amazed! Well, they should not be. While they are out galavanting and socializing, we introverts are at home, reading and being creative. Introverts are very smart and studies show that introverted children have higher IQs. Thank you for your marvelous input. Most of the smartest people I know are introverts while the opposite is true of extroverts who have foot in month disease.


d.william profile image

d.william 5 years ago from Somewhere in the south

Wonderful article. Very insightful and right on the mark. Sure put my life in some logical perspective, after many years of being made to feel inferior to the loud mouth and obnoxious among us. I am still profoundly introverted and have absolutely no guilt or shame about that fact. Thanks for this great article.


marion 5 years ago

I'm an introvert too. Recently, my boss had also asked me to "go out and socialize more" !! The extroverts in my office are paid more than introverts, the work doesn't matter much!


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

I think that it could be very hard to be a writer if you were an extrovert, as it would be very hard for them to spend the necessary amount of time on their own. As an introvert, I have never understood why some people hate being alone - however much I love some people, I can't be around them all the time. Too many people for too long and I need alone time to recharge my batteries


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

To CMHypno: I totally concur with you. We introverts are quite creative and independent folk who are extremely comfortable in their own skins.


PrettySunflower profile image

PrettySunflower 5 years ago from Malaysia

We are born with the traits of "introvert" or "extrovert". The trick is to have a balanced personality. Neither too extreme in one or the other. If you understand yourself and accept yourself the way you are, you will be loved just the same. Everyone has their strength and weaknesses. As in both personalities. None is better than the other. Perception of yourself and others. Expectations put upon individuals by society. Be yourself.


wanzulfikri profile image

wanzulfikri 5 years ago from Malaysia

True, introverts had always been perceived negatively. Your hub denies that fact. Hooray introverts!


Anonymous 4 years ago

I'm a teen introvert and you are one hundred percent right about people like us. I think I realized I wasn't like other people when I was about six years old. I noticed that I didn't enjoy birthday parties as much as other children did. I don't know when I first heard the word, but on some level I understood what I was. People, even my own parents, have told me that I have social issues, and was given a slew of disorders to describe what I was. The only result has been a low self esteem, a feeling like everyone's better than me, like I'm some sort of messed up freak that needs to be "fixed". I think introversion should be seen as a personality type rather than an issue like dyslexia. I believe similar things about ADHD. There are so many things stigmatized in our society because they aren't "normal",whatever normal is supposed to be and shown as problems. In my opinion, the real problem is the people wanting teenagers, and for that matter everyone that has something different about them. As a teenager, I've always wanted to show people that I don't fit in, and that I'm not normal. My family thinks I'm just an antisocial teenager that hides in her room because she "hates" her parents. I don't, and I'm not broken. Would you think that there's something wrong with someone because of skin and eye colors? I'm being considered broken for being me.

I apologize for this rant. I just want to get it out and get someone to understand.


Donnah46 4 years ago

It is a shame how many introverted people have likely been labeled with conditions such as ADD, ADHD and even Asperger's. I think America needs to tone down the diagnoses and realize that not everyone is outgoing, and stop glamorizing extroversion.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 4 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

To Donnah46: Thank you for your response and I totally agree with you. American society does tend to glamorize the extroverts and totally denigrate introverts. Introversion is a valid personality type as well as extroversion.


Rehana Stormme profile image

Rehana Stormme 4 years ago

I definitely agree that the introverts are paid less than the extroverts in the work place. Some how this just happens and most times, the introverts don't have the guts to point this out to their bosses because the answer could be, you need to be more social. I have a great colleague and work who is an introvert, very bright and talented, she has to force herself to socialize with her workmates just be socially accepted, and be considered equal to her extrovert workmates.


Arun 4 years ago

Sir i completely agree with you!!Such an amazing article.Being an introvert,reading this article has grealy boosted my self-belief.Its about time they realise that we are as good as them.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 4 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

To Arun: We are.


Bri sees 4 years ago

Very much... Understands! This makes sence, thank~you for it!


michael 3 years ago

This article is a bit biased yes introverts can be unsympatic, uncreative, and they can have many friends, as in introvert myself I have met some that have met the above listed. Extroverts can have the same qualites of being as or more creative than an introvert and have a large amont of empathy and they can read alot of books. Also as a teenager to I do feel opressed by my parents they think I have no friends and that they think im a freak. Most of my teachers are good people and the majority of my teachers favor me. Just beacause someone is introvert doesn't mean they enjoy more benefits than an extrovert, We all sould spread awareness of the introverts struggle, but we sould all shrive to treat each human fairly.


kathleen 3 years ago

ive been an introvert since i was a kid in elementary school. but i had the best childhood ever. i was accepted as the quiet (dead) girl in the class, but they teased me in a good way. highschool life wasn't very nice to me though. i was an outcast because i had different interests from them.i was quiet. but if they only gave me a chance, they would know that i could be actually funny too, only to those i consider friends who accepted me as i am.. some of them were so amazed to see that i could play piano etc and told me ''how come you never told us about this!'' and im like in my head ''nobody asked me'' ''i dont feel like bragging about it.'' ''do i really have to? for what?'' i only have a small circle of friends, only those who gave themselves a chance to know me or gave me a chance to be myself without being judged.


idigwebsites profile image

idigwebsites 3 years ago from United States

I like being an introvert, I don't have a problem with it. It's society's perception, so let them have it; besides, they don't know the real person. When there's an extrovert, there should be an introvert too, so that society's balanced.

However, I also don't have a problem getting along with people. I may not be gregarious, but I don't have a hard time dealing with them. I just like my own inner, private space. And trust is one aspect that introverts really treasure about -- it's really hard to get that these days.

Many famous thinkers, writers, actors/actresses, singers, artists, and scientists are mostly introverts. So don't you bully your introverted classmates, and view them with derision... one day they'll outdo you. :)


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

Succinctly stated.


Ben Blackwell 3 years ago

This is quite interesting. I consider myself to be both introverted and extroverted, so when I read this article, I recognized some of what has been said here in myself. I was definitely more introverted than extroverted as a child.


Brian 3 years ago

I am an introvert and I have a hard time keeping a job in construction, because construction is an industry that is very dominated by extroverts. Most people view my quietness and stand-offishness as lacking motivation or being low in productivity. Does anyone else have similar problems?


an introvert 3 years ago

Dear author,

You're so right about what you typed. I'm fed up with hatred for introverts. Too long have extroverts antagonized them. Well, I say enough's enough. No more and inconsideration and insensitivity towards introverts. The ones who dare walk over them should be ready to get their butts handed to them.


Amber 2 years ago

As an introvert, many view me as shy, quiet, and antisocial, which is why when I get to know someone, they are amazed, and slightly annoyed, at how much I talk. I believe this is the biggest advantage of introversion. I get the privilege of being able to surprise others of how natural I can be in social situations, despite what they may have previously thought.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 2 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

See, THERE YOU GO. So many peopl\e are SUR...PRISED by us introverts. We indeed have the UPPER hand, how delicious that is!


maramerce profile image

maramerce 2 years ago from United States

As a child my mother tried to change me from being left-handed to right-handed. As an adult the world tried to change me from being an introvert to an extravert. I have no desire to be popular. I enjoy being a left-handed right-brained introvert. I like who I am and people don't understand that. They think because I don't boast or brag about myself or make more of my abilities like everyone else does that I must not care about my life. I have a deep desire for a meaningful existence. I want to make a difference where I can. I'm also a creative person. I get deep pleasure and satisfaction through any creative endeavor. The difference is I don't crave the spotlight. I see it as a total nuisance. Which is what I love about writing. You can put space between yourself and the world and just let them connect to your ideas instead of intruding into your personal life.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 2 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

Well stated. It is so sad that your mother didn't appreciate your left handedness. How sad that parents fail to appreciate their children for their uniqueness!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 15 months ago from Minnesota

This is a very interesting article. I consider myself to be strongly 'Extroverted' but having said that, I am also very introverted. I am a very social person but am also very comfortable with myself; reading a book or hub, hanging out with family at home, etc... As a person in the mental health field, it's healthy to have a good balance of both. I hit many buttons and voted up.


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 15 months ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York Author

Thank you for stopping by and for your great response!

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