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America's Great Discrimination of the Introvert

Updated on February 3, 2013

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

4. Gandhi

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.

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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      3 months ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      What a great article! Introverts are oftentimes considered to be THE OTHER in American society. Introverts are thought to be colorless, have no personality, & even backwards & retarded. Many parents who have introverted children, consider such children to be lacking at best & curses at worst. There are parents who are ashamed of their children because the latter are introverts.

      There are parents who don't appreciate their introverted children but enroll them in activities & groups in order to "FIX" them to make them seem "NORMAL" i.e. extroverted. Oftentimes introverted children are overlooked by their parents as LESSER THAN. They devote most of their energy & time to their extroverted children who they deem more worthy.

      In schools, teachers consider introverted children to be slow although the average introverted child is more intelligent than their extroverted peers. Teachers consider introverted children to be somewhat developmentally backwards, even retarded. Teachers don't value introverted children as they view such children to be less intelligent & apt than extroverted children. Studies show that teachers view extroverted children as more intelligent than their introverted peers although studies show that most introverted children fall into the gifted range of IQ. Although introverted children are some of the most gifted children, they are deemed to be subpar intellectually because they aren't outgoing nor gregarious.

      In the work world, introverted people aren't deemed leadership nor management material. It seems that it is the biggest mouth is the one who gets noticed. Much of the workplace culture consider introverts to be personae non gratae. Extroverts are the ones who are viewed as leader because of their forceful exuberance so to speak. Although introverts are extremely knowledgeable in the workplace, they are....OVERLOOKED & BYPASSED for promotions.

      Yes, introverts are discriminated against from cradle to grave. First, by parents who consider their children to be birth defects. Then by teachers who view & treat such precious children as anomalies & lastly by the work world who don't value their presence.

    • profile image

      PEF 

      5 years ago

      I have recently 'missed out' on a senior appointment in education because the process largely boiled down to a 'personality contest.' I haven't time at present to share the full account which I think would be of interest to readers but would say this. That if introversion was recognized as a mild form of disability or indeed viewed in the same manner as one's crede, race, religion or gender. Then this form of discrimination would stop.

    • Arghness profile image

      Alistair 

      5 years ago from O'Fallon

      As a fellow introvert, I find it to be a preferable lifestyle. Yes, that's my bias, but for me, imagining needing, NEEDING social interaction to charge my social batteries and bring requisite happiness. That just sounds awful. Perhaps from the other side, they see us cave-dwellers and say, how could they stand to be alone for days, weeks, and not be lonely and sad and suicidal?! They're weird! It's all just a misunderstanding, and employers misunderstand it the most. Rest assured, Mr. Steven, there are jobs for introverts, but they are sadly not in the entry level market. Not so far as I have seen, anyway. They're all geared at "outgoing, yet spineless, free-thinking, yet submissive, prideful yet malleable cretins" and honestly I don't think employers know what they want, or care what they want. Well, other than money. So, an introvert who is of intelligence and free-thinking, outspoken, is a liability. He is something they'd rather not deal with. They'd rather have some Bryce who keeps his....lolerific head down and just does what he's told, no matter how idiotic the command is.

      Basically, society prefers dogs over cats. Try telling your cat to sit. You might get a purr, or an offhanded glance, but nothing more. Tell a dog to sit, and they go "oh oh, where's the treat, master!". Boil it down and you have your answer. Now, add a crow to the equation. Someone who sits on the side-lines and answers to neither authority or exerts authority, but is concern solely with his own agenda. An employer hates that even more. They can make a cat listen, but they can't make a crow come down from the power line and submit. It's humanly impossible. Never happened and never will. And that crow sits on his power line and watches the pathetic human gawking and making funny noises, and the crow cracks a joke to his introvert brethren about the pitiable state of America.

      Ahah, great hub.

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