Can I vent a little bit?
Thanks, I’m gonna vent.
A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a new personal development book, which was actually okay for the most part, until I got to the point where the term “introvert” was lumped together with the term “antisocial”. The implication being that introversion is a negative trait comparable to being antisocial and both translate to “not enjoying the company of most people.”
Guess how listening to this passage made me feel? Well, I was fuming so hard I pretty much had smoke oozing out of my scalp. I had to rewind the audio book, like, five times to make sure I was actually hearing this right. Did she REALLY just say that?
I think I had gotten so comfortable here in my little introverted corner of the internet that I had forgotten how ignorant the rest of the world can still sometimes be.
But here’s the thing. I don’t want the rest of the world to get to YOU. I want YOU to be crystal clear about the introvert vs antisocial difference, so even when you hear otherwise from some ignoramus, you can hold your introvert head up high. With pride! 🙂
So let’s go over it…
Introvert vs Antisocial: What’s The Difference?
- unwilling or unable to associate in a normal or friendly way with other people
- antagonistic, hostile, or unfriendly toward others; menacing; threatening
- opposed or detrimental to social order or the principles on which society is constituted
There’s also Antisocial Personality Disorder, which Psychology Today describes as “an ingrained pattern of behavior in which individuals consistently disregard and violate the rights of others around them”.
It’s true that an introvert can be antisocial and an introvert can meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder. But so can extraverts.
Introversion is NOT the same as being antisocial.
The term introvert literally means inward turning. Introverts prefer to turn inward and pay a lot of attention to their inner world of thoughts and ideas.
That’s it. Pretty simple, right?
Introverts Do Not Fit The Definition of Antisocial
Although introverts have a preference for the inner world, having this preference doesn’t automatically make you antisocial. Let’s look at the definition of antisocial point-by-point.
- Many introverts are perfectly willing and able to associate in a normal or friendly way with other people. Granted, some people might perceive introverts as being abnormal, but that’s only because they don’t understand the range of normal human behavior.
- Hostile, menacing, threatening? I don’t know about you, but the vast majority of introverts I’ve ever known are the opposite of threatening. How about gentle, meek, and understated? Quiet, reflective, thoughtful?
- And finally, I don’t have hard data to back this up, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and posit that most introverts are not opposed or detrimental to social order or the principles on which society is constituted. If you’re an introvert and you’re opposed to social order, just let me know. 😀
Where The Misunderstanding Comes From
Introverts get labeled as “unwilling or unable to associate in a normal way” by folks who don’t understand the range of normal human behavior.
Introverts are not antisocial – they just tend to have different preferences when it comes to socializing:
- Introverts prefer to socialize one-on-one rather than in large groups.
- Introverts prefer slower-paced conversations where one topic is thoroughly discussed before moving on to the next topic.
- Introverts would rather have a few close friendships than a large number of acquaintances.
- Some introverts prefer to communicate in writing. (You should see the length of the emails I get from my introvert readers. These people are WORDY! And so am I, so it works out. 😀 )
Introverts also enjoy solitary activities, which means that they naturally have less time left over for socializing. But this doesn’t mean that they are opposed to socializing altogether or automatically unfriendly. It’s just that what’s normal for introverts is less time spent socializing than what’s normal for extraverts.
And this is a good thing! Can you imagine what would happen if nobody wanted to do the jobs that require you to work alone? If we all just insisted on sitting in meetings all day long every day?
Who would have all the ideas? Who would come up with designs and plans? Who would create art? Who would code computer programs? Who would fix cars? Who would drive trucks?
And that’s why society needs all kinds. Including introverts.
And therefore, we’re solidly pro-social. 😀