When Introversion Becomes An Excuse For Being Rude
It’s 2016 and introversion is being used as a pass to snub people
Ten minutes past call-time, no word. No information on our band member's whereabouts, no replies to our frantic texts, and of course, the subscriber couldn’t be reached. We make the dreaded call to tell the organizers that we need to be bumped down the show schedule. That’s when we finally get word: he just left his house. Disaster.
Flaking on gigs, being late for rehearsal, being extremely hard to reach because he’s busy, all of these our band member chalks up to his introversion. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I believe it’s true. While I would consider majority of musicians in the band to be introverts, this particular individual is an especially proud introvert. Read: proud in a seize-every-opportunity-to-let-you-know-he’s-an-introvert kind of way. So much so that it has become his go-to excuse for rude behavior.
Who can blame him for being a proud introvert? It’s 2016! And guess what, introversion is cool now. Don’t get me wrong. I think the attention media is giving introversion is great. We now have greater awareness about this personality type and a better understanding of what it is. First off, introversion should not be confused with social anxiety, wherein an individual shows excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations as per WebMD. Meanwhile, being introverted means you need to expend energy in most, if not all, social situations.
People used to think successful types are extroverted, sociable and confident. But as more and more quiet types come forward to share their success stories, introverts feel less pressure to become more sociable, because there’s now a paradigm shift on what makes a successful individual. For many people, they've accepted that they have both introverted and extroverted traits. Because, come on, the sociable set also need me time every once in a while.
Photo via TIME Magazine. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg is described as shy and introverted but someone who cares about the people who work for him
The danger here is when introversion becomes an excuse for bad manners. In social environments, it’s one thing to be introspective but still engage in conversation, but it’s another to refuse to talk to anyone altogether. When “preserving your energy” turns into ignoring people actively, it becomes a problem. What's more, in human relationships, it is inevitable to find ourselves in a confrontation. Confrontation is healthy because we are able to express what we like and don’t like, and this allows people to reconcile. If confrontation is done with respect for the persons involved, it can lead to good things. As difficult as it might be for the introverted, if you want to have healthy relationships, confrontation is something you can't walk away from.
Need space you say? We get it, especially when things become overwhelming. Some find healing in their own solitude and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when friends go out of their way to try and help, it’s rude to not even acknowledge that. It's also unacceptable to excuse oneself from social obligations due to introversion. A friend is trying to contact you to hang out? You think: never mind, I won’t reply because, well, it’s too tiring. I’m an introvert. There’s obviously a fine line between introversion and lack of manners, and that line is drawn when the individual is being deliberate or intentional.
When people start removing accountability from themselves and pass it up to their personality, it becomes a problem. Studies on free will find that when people are told they don’t have control over their decisions, they tend to make choices that are far more selfish. Because it isn’t their fault they were born like that or that they possess traits inherent to an introvert, it becomes easy to excuse rudeness. When the choices you make are affected by something greater than yourself, it’s easy to fall into the trap that you aren’t accountable for those choices.
This dilemma is further compounded by the idea that they are misunderstood by society. Many articles say we need to be more sympathetic and understanding towards introverts and while I agree, sometimes introversion is used as a wall to block out constructive criticism.
We are all selfish individuals, but social norms and obligations keep that in check and allow us to grow as well as nurture our relationships. And while there's nothing wrong with being an introvert, courtesy and respect are values we should all have.