by Jay Johansen | Sep 21, 2021
I've read a number of articles with titles like "Helping Your Introvert Friend". The gist of these articles is that the way to help is to pressure him or trick him into going to a party or some other social event.
Apparently the people who write these articles just take it for granted that introverts really want to go to parties. Just for some inexplicable reason they don't go, and so they miss out on all the fun.
That is, they assume that if someone says, "I don't like to go to parties" ... well, the idea that someone might not enjoy the same forms of entertainment that you do is just impossible to imagine. The only explanation is that they really want to go to parties, but they have some psychological disorder that makes them irrationally afraid to go. So if you can pressure them or trick them into going, then of course they'll have a great time and they'll be grateful to you for forcing them to go.
Speaking as an introvert, sorry, but the reason why I rarely go to parties is because I don't particularly enjoy parties. Maybe this is hard for you to comprehend, but I find most parties boring. It's not that I have some irrational fear. It's that the things that happen at parties don't interest me. Trying to make small talk with strangers is just not something that I find entertaining. I don't think that drinking is particularly entertaining. (I'm not a tee-totaler, I enjoy an occasional glass of wine with dinner, but that's about it. Drinking as a form of entertainment just doesn't work for me.) And -- I know this is hard for you to believe or even to comprehend -- but the idea of "meeting new people" just doesn't interest me.
Many of these articles try to psychoanalyze introverts. They talk about how we are afraid of crowds, disturbed by loud noises, feel insecure expressing ourselves, etc. This is just silly. It's not that I'm afraid of these things. I'm just not interested in these things.It's just like: I don't own any orange shirts. Is that because I am afraid of the color orange? Did I have some traumatic incident in my childhood involving the color orange that has scarred me for life? No, I just ... don't particularly like to wear orange.
I get it: Some people like to be part of a crowd. Okay, good for you. I don't. My idea of fun is to read a book, or watch a movie (by myself), or work on some hobby, or take a walk in the woods. Sorry, but I don't see this as a psychological problem to be cured. It's just my personal preference. Like most personal preferences, I have no particular reason for it other than "this is my personal preference".
Suppose you like Italian food and you have a friend who likes Mexican food. Would you say that your friend's preference for Mexican food is a problem that needs to be solved? Would you try to pressure him to eat Italian food because you just know that he must really prefer Italian food and just refuses to eat it because of some irrational fear? Would you try to cure him of his desire for Mexican food?
© 2021 by Jay Johansen
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