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Like many women in touch with modern technology, I spend a lot of time dicking around on the Internet, delighting myself with videos of cats falling off things and filling in answers on clickbait tests to discover the innermost workings of my psyche.
In this way I have learned that I am the color red, Britney Spears, a cone-shaped hat and 18% Swedish. In recent years, however, the Internet has taken a turn for the more psychologically profound, with an explosion of IQ tests, personality disorder tests, and the all-important Myers-Briggs This Is Everything You Are test.
So! According to all this, I am an introvert.
In case you are interested, here are some of the traits that introverts typically possess: We find small talk cumbersome; we do not like meeting new people at parties, preferring to spend time with people we already know; giving a talk in front of 500 people feels less stressful than having to mingle with them afterward; we screen calls, even from friends; we sit at the end of the bench in the subway, not in the middle. (I didn’t make these up, they’re from this article here.)
So far, so good: I can relate to all of these things, so it seems to make sense.
Now comes the fun part! Secretly, I’m not really an introvert. I’m just a bit of a dick. I have been aware of this for a long time, but now all of my behavior can be excused by this one handy label.
At parties, I tend to zone out. It’s as though I’m sitting on a bus – I can hear other people talking around me, and if I wanted to listen in on their conversations I probably could. But why would I want to? These conversations have nothing to do with me. Jumping in on them would seem strange, and more to the point, I’m not actually particularly interested. So I will find someone I know, and have a conversation which goes more like this:
Me: Me me me. Me me me me me. Me shaken over ice with a maraschino me.
Friend: (provides feedback)
And so forth, because, y’know, having conversations with strangers would involve taking an interest in someone else’s life and stuff, and that’s just not really my thing.
Yes, I screen my calls. I am horrible at replying to text messages (unless they come from someone I am either sleeping with, or want to be sleeping with). I am a giant flake when it comes to actually showing up to things I said I’d do (unless it involves sleeping with someone), because generally when the time rolls around to leave my house and go out and socialize, I am still wearing an unusual medley of undergarments and am doing something to do with my computer (did you guys know you can learn Russian online for free?).
If, by some miracle, I actually manage to go out, I will quite often be fairly uncommunicative, due to the fact that I am displeased by being bored in a social environment when I could have been engrossed in muttering “Я хочу тарелку риса” alone in front of my desk.
I decided, then, to make an effort. It is not that difficult to be empathetic and interested in other people’s lives — other people seem to manage it all the time! So I set out on a mission to become less of a sociopath.
First task: Go to a bar and make small talk with strangers.
Going to the bar was easy enough (well, I was an hour late, but that could happen to anyone). I tried talking to some strangers sober, but it didn’t exactly work out and seemed awkward and boring for everyone involved, especially me.
So I got drunk and polled people to see if anyone has ever tried putting a Tic-Tac up the end of their penis. Nobody in that particular bar had, but I did find a man who had tried it with a dried kidney bean. This did not lead to any new friendships.
Second task: Go to some other thing with no alcohol and make small talk with strangers.
I found a meet-up group that has Extreme Frisbee sessions on Sunday mornings, and signed up for it. When the Sunday morning rolled around, I remembered that Extreme Frisbee is not something I could ever do, due to the fact that I do not own any flat shoes and that I really never ever ever in my life ever want to play Extreme Frisbee. Stayed in bed.
Score: 0/10, although I suppose I didn’t offend anyone that time.
Third task: Go to friendly party and get to know friends of friends.
I made it to the friendly party and found a prime spot on the sofa near the cat. People started to have conversations and I started to talk to the cat. Somebody asked me to pass the dip and I put my whole hand into the dip and spent quite a long time wondering if anyone had noticed and if we should still be eating the dip and how I could discreetly go to another room and de-dip my hand without having to make a big deal out of it. Then I was bored for a long time. Then I corrected someone’s grammar, and then I went home.
Score: 3/10 – quite good friends with cat now!
After these rather failed experiments, I began to ponder. Why was I trying to meet new people? Was it because I was actually interested in them and their viewpoints? Or because I wanted to prove something to myself while randomly impressing strangers with my awesomeness? (I told you it failed already, shuttup.)
“Sorry about last night,” I said to the friendly-party host, when asked about why I had spoken perhaps eight words in the entire evening. “I, um… Well, you know, I’m an introvert.”
And it seemed to fly.
Now that claiming introversion has reached giddy heights of popularity, should we draw a line somewhere? Should random asshats like me be allowed to keep on using the Get Out Of Jail Free! introvert card, or should we step up and own it, saying “I am not interested in you, and if I talk to you all I want is admiration,” thereby offending people? Is it the perfect excuse for not-particularly-nice behavior?
After all, the symptoms are the same, even if the root is different. Or are we undermining the real introverts? If anyone finds out the answer, feel free to tell me. I’ll be over here, finding out which Starbucks holiday beverage I am.