- Quality of Life & Wellness
America's Great Discrimination of the Introvert
First off, what are the differences?
Introverts and extroverts are simply different types of social animals. One the one hand, introverts do not find social interaction to be a charging experience. After a while, they have to retreat and have some alone time. The common misconception is that introverts do not enjoy social interaction or are shy. In reality, there is such a thing as an outgoing introvert. It's rare because it tends to be that shyness accompanies being introverted. So, they may enjoy the party, get-together, or other requisite social event, but they still need alone time to recharge their social batteries.
Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to be more outgoing because they seek the social interaction. That's what charges their social batteries. So, they will likely enjoy the requisite social event more than the introvert because they feed off the social interaction.
That's the key way you can tell if you are an extrovert or introvert. But, the point of this article is not to focus on which is better, or why people are the way they are. I'll leave that to the scientists, but the point of this is to examine the culture of America that sees the introvert as a foreign body, odd, or downright wrong and needing to be fixed.
Also, I will admit that I'm an introvert. So, my personal experience with this issue will be quite present.
Discrimination in the job market
This is perhaps one of the major injustices that has gone completely unnoticed. Now, since I am a relatively young person, I've only really applied within the retail job market. So, my experience could be different and other sectors of the job market could be different. But, because this is a societal problem, in my opinion, it does not seem that crazy for it to pervade the entire job market to a certain degree.
Now, if you've ever applied for retail jobs, you've been hit with the roughly 100 question assessment. This is the part of the application that is the most annoying to many, but is also the most discriminatory, as well. I recently applied for a position at Weekends Only as a customer service representative. I have over 3 years of experience in that particular position, so I know I would be able to do it effectively. But, alas, the dreaded assessment appears!
Here are some of the statements (which you answer agree, neutral, or disagree) that show the blatant discrimination against introverts:
1. I do not enjoy being around a loud, enthusiastic crowd. (Introverts generally don't like that.)
2. I am genuinely interested in other people. (Introverts can certainly seem like they are not.)
3. I enjoy meeting new people. (A high number of introverts do not.)
4. I can become easily annoyed with people. (Introverts can have less patience with small-talk.)
5. I do not like being the center of attention. (Most introverts do not.)
6. I find it easy to make new friends. (Some can have an issue because they are more interested in deep conversations, and have little patience for the small talk necessary to acquire new friends.)
7. I am very sociable. (This is just blatant extroverted-preference.)
8. In most group settings, I am not very outspoken. (I have this issue, actually. Introverts are generally more conscious of cutting someone off as they are speaking, so it is difficult to enter the discussion sometimes.)
9. At parties, I am very talkative and thoroughly enjoy myself. (So obvious, a description is not necessary.)
10. I do not feel vulnerable and insecure when alone. (This was a particularly tricky one. Ideally, an extrovert would feel vulnerable and insecure when alone because they need the social interaction and thrive on it, so the correct answer is actually disagree.)
So, there's a few good examples. The assessment is less about testing whether you can do the job effectively, but rather about weeding out the introverts, as those were only 10 out of numerous questions posed that relate to introversion vs extroversion. They are very clever about it, too. They ask multiple questions that are exactly the same, but often rephrased to sound different because they are hoping that you will trip up and answer one incorrectly.
Discrimination is school
Before an introvert has reached the age to enter the job market, they are first put through the U.S school system. From as early as possible, it is often concerning for teachers when one of the students is not socializing with the others as much as society deems. It is seen as weird or out of step with the norm of society. Then, they call the parents and share their concerns. The problem is that this buries the seed in the introvert's brain that there's something wrong with them. They assume it's something that can be changed and not biological, as the science shows.
This goes on all the way up to high school, primarily. It lessens once you enter college, but is still present. The reason for this is simple. It has been drilled into everyone's brain for years by that point. The end result is that by adulthood, most introverts have learned to emulate extroverts to succeed in most situations because that is what's expected of them.
Discrimination in the media
The Newtown massacre and the Aurora mass shooting were both heartbreaking and deeply saddening.There's no doubt that something needs to be done to prevent them from happening in the future, or at least lessen the chance, but the one thing that pervades the 24/7 media coverage is on the social life of the murderer. During the coverage of each tragedy, they will interview other students and they will make comments on what they knew. And every single time, they will say that he was a "loner" or "didn't get out much." This only feeds the notion that there is something wrong with that. Some people don't require a ton of social interaction to live. But, in the media, they seem to connect the "loner" status to the murders. At the minimum, they don't make it clear to the viewers that there are plenty of asocial people out there who are not committing mass murder. The main thing is fighting the perception that all introverts are asocial or anti-social.
The moral of this story?
As a proud introvert, I think we should stand up and fight against the societal definition of "normal." Many introverts have gone on to do great things, utilizing the unique strengths that introverts possess. Here's a short list of famous introverts through history:
1. Albert Einstein
2. Warren Buffett
3. Charles Darwin
5. Al Gore
6. Sir Isaac Newton
7. Larry Page (CEO of Google)
8. Rosa Parks
9. Eleanor Roosevelt
10. J.K. Rowling
11. Steven Spielberg
12. Steven Wozniak
All of these famous people utilized their unique skills as an introvert to change the world. Imagine if our society accepted introverts like Japan does. How many advances we could make in many different fields. Introverts are the largely dormant minority and I think that should change.
A note to extroverts
I wanted to add that I have nothing against extroverts. Extroverts have the same potential to be smart or even smarter than introverts. It's simply a personality difference. So, my point was not to demonize the extrovert, but rather to raise up the introvert. I do think America idolizes extroverts a bit too much, but that's not to say that introverts are better. But, I think there's a lot of untapped potential because of the way society views someone being introverted and potentially making that person not be able to accept themselves.