My name is Matt and I'm an introvert. I'm one of those weird ones who craves massive amounts of attention and spirals into downright, beside-myself depression when I feel it's deserved and I don't get it, but that's my own cross to bear. The point is, I'm an introvert and I always have been. I've mostly shed the shyness part that comes with being a young introvert, but I still live primarily in my own head.
However, I am also a citizen of the world, and as such, I am forced to interact with other people, introverts and non-introverts alike. I do not view this as some kind of unbearable burden, but rather the reality of being alive in a society populated by people with widely differing personalities. I am able to live and thrive in this world by being respectful of other people's points of view, following the rules--written, unwritten, and traffic-based--and fostering a general attitude of 'who gives a shit' in most situations. It's not difficult to be introverted and survive in modern society. I mean, it isn't, right?
A couple of months ago, this appeared all over the place on Facebook:
As a proud introvert with many introvert friends, I was appalled. This might be the dumbest thing I've ever seen. How to Care for Introverts? What are you, a special needs child? A three-legged dog? I assume you are neither one of these things as you have your own Facebook account on which to post this dreck. You're an introvert. You don't get special treatment. No one should get special treatment, you know, other than special needs children and three-legged dogs. If you find yourself in a situation that is not "introvert-friendly,' you grin and bear it like everyone else, asshole. That's right. I said asshole. Let's look at this thing point by point.
1. Respect their need for privacy--Of course. But you should respect everybody's need for privacy, shouldn't you? This could be on a list of How To Care For All Human Beings and Some Monkeys. Everyone deserves their privacy.
2. Never embarrass them in public--Who enjoys being embarrassed in public? Do introverts think extroverts enjoy public humiliation? They don't. Nobody does. Why do you think Double Dare is no longer on the air?
3. Let them observe first in new situations--Who's stopping you from observing first in new situations? Are you an introvert or a wuss?
4. Give them time to think; don't demand instant answers--It would be nice if people did this one consistently. I'm faced with this bullshit at my place of employment several times a week. I'm-a give you this one, introvert chart.
5. Don't interrupt them--You probably shouldn't interrupt anyone. Especially me. Not only am I an introvert who craves attention, but I also have a short fuse when it comes to being interrupted or ignored. You know what? I may actually just be an asshole. Let's read on and find out.
6. Give them advance notice of expected changes in their lives--Oh, fuck you. Sometimes this is just impossible. Suck it up, introvert!
7. Give them 15 minute warnings to finish whatever they are doing--See above.
8. Reprimand them privately--Hey, if your boss or your boyfriend or some bully in the Home Depot parking lot is publicly reprimanding you, that's on them. That person is making him/herself look bad.
9. Teach them new skills privately--I should've been home schooled then?
10. Enable them to find one best friend who has similar interests & abilities--Who is keeping introverted people from making friends? Whoever you are, stop it.
11. Don't push them to make lots of friends--Who is pushing introverted people to make lots of friends? Whoever you are, stop it.
12. Respect their introversion; don't try to remake them into extroverts--How 'bout just respect everybody.
Look, introverts, I'm one of you. I get it. But, c'mon! This fun little chart makes us look like a pack of assholes. "Cater to me! Respect my (implied) superiority to you! Stop trying to be my friend!" Ugh. Can we just agree that being introverted doesn't mean that we are maladjusted? We're just quiet, creative types who need a little more alone time than others. That's all.