Mark Oppenheimer, in “How to raise an extroverted child in a world that loves introverts,” (Washington Post) claims that we operate in a society that values introversion over extroversion. He has the audacity to say that “there is definitely something self-serving, brilliantly so, in the militant introverts’ argument that they are superior — calmer, more patient, more compassionate — yet always vulnerable,” suggesting that introverts are conspiring to take over an unsuspecting extroverted society and mold the world to suit themselves.
Made-up issues are not helpful as a rule, and this one, with its egregious lack of grounding in reality, is worse than most. Extroverts are the ones who thrive in the modern world, a world that values putting yourself out there, being open to new experiences, and always looking for new connections and new opportunities. (In case you were wondering, these are not things which introverts tend to enjoy.) Suggesting that introverts are “brilliantly” self-serving in their supposed superiority implies a level of self-centeredness that even a narcissist would blush to admit. I hate to break it to Mr. Oppenheimer, but introverts do not think about extroverts, the world, or their relation to either of them to anywhere near this degree of depth.
The introverted stereotype Oppenheimer describes as “both special and especially oppressed…they have unique wisdom but also need unique care” may make for good copy, but it is pure fiction, probably sprung from television’s recent obsession with antisocial lead characters (see “The Good Doctor” or “House”). The real world has little use for reserved, non-social people. Introverts certainly do not think of themselves as possessing some special wisdom that extroverts could never achieve. That is all the food of Oppenheimer’s apparently overactive imagination, and seasoned with no small amount of petulance, I might add.
For the record, being introverted is not a disability you can claim reasonable accommodations for, nor is it something you can put on your resume alongside a preference for being interviewed over the phone. Our culture values socialization over solitude, friendliness over reticence, and fearlessness over caution, and suggesting otherwise is dismissive and insulting to introverts who struggle against their natural inclinations every day to fit themselves into said culture. The world does not “love” introverts. It fetishizes them. That is not the same thing.
Sometimes, people are duped into thinking that art reflects life. If that were the case, however, everyone would flip houses, doctors would never shave, and “introverted” men would frequently find themselves in situations they had to shoot their way out of. Media is not reality. Introverts are not delicate, magical creatures bent on taking over society.
In fact, all we really want is to be left alone. Thanks.
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