School As Introvert Prison Sentence

Leads To: Knowledge Monopolies: The University

I got pretty good grades in school.  Homework was easier for me than for most kids.  Yet as an adult it’s easy to look back and realize that none of that was important.  Once one gets into college it doesn’t matter.  Once one decides not to go to college it doesn’t matter.  We were told grades were important by all the authority figures, but it was a lie just to try keep us all in line for another day and to justify the system in which every one of us was trapped.

I look back on twelve years of schooling and can’t think of much beyond basic literacy that was truly important in the long run.  Even with literacy, my first reading lessons took place at home, not in school.  Classes at school did teach me useful things.  A lot of the classwork that was boring for other kids was pure fun for me.  Yet did it really need to consume 12 years of my life?  By the time we’re 18, the better part of our youth is irremediably spent on years of school.  Yes, humans have higher life expectancies now but the fact is we start our slide into aging soon after we hit biological adulthood.  With schooling, we get barely a decade to be active in the world at our peak.  People in past generations generally had begun adult-level activities by their early teens or even younger.  Now a college graduate at age 21 is only beginning to be functional in the adult world.  Is our increased life expectancy nearly as great when we have nearly a decade less in which to do things?

What is it all for?  One obvious purpose is the simple containment of youth who would otherwise be roaming around the streets all day.  With child labor laws, there’s nothing better to do than lock them up.   The result is a strange combination of minimum security prison and daycare.  It just doesn’t make much sense to the Subtle understanding.  To really ‘get’ the spirit of school it is most illuminating to examine the extroverted view and justification.

Every well-adjusted person I’ve talked to gives me the same message when I dare criticize compulsory education and public schooling.  “But it’s for socialization!”  Having tipped my ideological hand more than was wise, I end up with an earful of reminiscences about fun extra-curricular activities.  This always confounds me.  Whatever happened to the 7 hours a day sitting at a desk doing nothing?  That wasn’t fun!  It wasn’t particularly social either.

When I express desire for there to be some alternative from regular schooling, I get a blank stare for a second or two followed by “Your kid wouldn’t be able to develop properly.  He/she would be lonely and cut off.”  Every time I hear this ubiquitous answer, I pause for a few seconds before finding a way to just change the subject.

As an introvert in the system, I felt lonely and cut off.  I didn’t fit into the school society at all.  I was non-socialized in school.  I can pass as mostly normal now, but when I first graduated high school, I still had the social skills of a small child.  I’ve spent the last several years learning everything from scratch and I’m finally feeling as though I’m somewhat caught up.  I’ve been through several halfway houses, but I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m establishing a life for the first time after a long prison sentence.  I spent a good portion of that time, especially the later years in something akin to solitary confinement.

It took me a long time to figure out why extroverts assign such importance to collective schooling.  Every well-adjusted person seems to understand the reasons on some intuitive level but lack the ability to analyze their beliefs and articulate them.  I will do my best to translate the idea of ‘Socialization’ into Subtle-ese.

I gather that extroverts value schooling primarily for its ability to imbue millions of children with a common formative experience so that they may smoothly interrelate as adults.

This ability to relate to others is like being able to speak the same language.  It is one of the most critical things we’re supposed to learn.  It’s the base of belonging we need to be able to establish romantic relationships and find careers.  In Subtle terms, I suppose we could consider compulsory schools as a massive network of commonality factories.  In the Surface world, these factories are not idle or pointless, they are busily producing vitally important social commodities.

I think the idea of social adjustment helps explain why nerds are portrayed in popular culture as morally stunted, silly, contemptible, short-sighted, petty people who have missed everything that is really important in life.  The nerds were focusing on all the wrong things in school and they serve as  symbols of everything one should not become.  They are representative of defective units that were never properly calibrated despite the best efforts of the factory workers.  In the movies, nerds are rather unsympathetic characters because they usually rudely reject the efforts of well-adjusted people to save them.  The overall thesis:  social adjustment is open to everyone, but there will always be a few who insist on being self-destructive.

The truth that they never realize is that most people don’t ask for a clash with the system.  Some people are going to have the wrong configuration as they roll down the assembly line.  The standardized parts that seem to fit with most other people just don’t apply.  The true introvert frame reaches the end of the assembly line not only bare of all the necessary components, but dented and bent from going through a long series of incompatible processes.

When I tell a regular person that “School was awful.”  I am often met with agreement.  If the conversation goes on, it becomes clear that most of the perceived awfulness for the Surface person stemmed from completely different problems.  They don’t complain about homework or classes usually.  They talk about all their human relationships and ultimately how it was a time for social learning and tough lessons in human interaction.  From the way they talk about it, it doesn’t sound like it was awful at all.  Most of the time it seems they were having fun, but it got bad for awhile whenever  some conflict arose.  When I realized that this is their definition of  ‘awful’ it was clear there could be no bridging the gap.  In moments like that, it becomes clear we don’t even speak mutually intelligible languages and that we’ve lived our lives in separate universes.  I have difficulty explaining my experience precisely because I was never properly adjusted.

Introverts vs. Extroverts: Learning

Leads to: Extrovert Critic: “You Read Too Much”

The acquisition of knowledge has a very different meaning to introverts and extroverts.

Extroverts:  Learning is a means to an ends

Introverts: Learning is an end unto itself.

Extroverts learn something so they can get something.  They usually have a very precise goal for pursuing information.  What is their goal?  It is almost always to get some kind of socially recognized title or certificate.  Without some kind of tangible end result that manifests in one’s social relationships, there is no reason at all to learn.  It is a very typical pattern for an extrovert to plow through countless dry textbooks in order to be awarded some crucial social distinction and then be perfectly happy never again reading another book.  After all books are a waste of time once one has ‘punched the ticket.’  Thereafter, from the Loud perspective, it’s the water cooler interactions and the networking that matters.  For an extrovert, learning is something that is done to you by others.  To teach oneself would be unthinkable, and well, even if it could be done, it would be boring.  Most importantly, one would go through endless hours of trouble without even a promised social stamp of approval at the end.

Introverts learn something because it is fun.  There may not be any immediate or tangible goal.  Or rather, there are multiple goals, some of them tangible and others more in the realm of dream.   Learning is the lifeblood and life purpose of the true introvert.   They will acquire whatever knowledge is necessary to make it in society, but will continue to both broaden and augment their knowledge throughout their lives.  Or often, the recreational accumulation of knowledge and skills gives an introvert everything they need to succeed.   It is a very typical pattern for an introvert to get the skills they need and then keep on learning and expanding just as before.  They read books to get where they are, they keep on reading until the grave.  For the true introvert, all learning starts with the personal volition to learn and love of knowledge.  Learning starts with the self and not with society and social institutions.  An introvert gets formal instruction because they too need formal stamps of approval and because they genuinely enjoy social interaction that revolves around the exchange of information.  However, the instruction of others is just a tool that facilitates the process of self-learning.  From the Subtle perspective learning is not done to us.  Rather we do it to ourselves out of love of knowledge and get help from others along the way.  Social stamps of approval are nice, but they never were the source of motivation.  There is no end to learning.  Instead, it is a personal lifelong journey.

Extrovert Success and the Introvert

What kind of life in society is considered a success?  In obituaries we see ‘was a great person/parent’ and all kinds of statements, but never do we see ‘This person was successful.  In their time alive, they accomplished all the most important things in life.”

How are we to be successful anyway according to the mass society all around us?  Upon examination it seems nearly impossible.

Even if one has a happy marriage and great relations with all their family members, maybe they have difficulty getting along with their boss at work because of all the time spent with loved ones instead of work.

Even if one does great at work and is the boss’s favorite, maybe they’re workaholics distant from their spouse and family.  They’ve done well at the office because they put in those necessary extra hours.

One area of excellence excludes another in a competitive environment and yet extrovert ‘success’ requires excelling in every one of them.

The result is a society of illusion where everyone strives to appear to have the best of everything in their lives.  One’s most publicly visible assets, a house and car are naturally the most important means of deception.

Though extroverts try to wake introverts up to ‘reality,’ they in fact live in a fairy tale land of their own making where every family has its own castle and magic carpet.  The price of illusion is a lifetime of servitude to the image they wish to project.  Never having known anything else, they are driven by vague notions of ‘success’ that they thrust on everyone around them in turn.  They devote themselves entirely and without question, but do they ever really reach ‘success?’

Many introverts out of desperation go looking for ways to become more extroverted, but would ‘success’ in converting necessarily be salvation.  Even if one got more resources and recognition by becoming extroverted would one have eliminated the ability to experience happiness from these gains?  Would one end up lost in the maze of social comparisons, only happy or sad as others seem worse or better off?

To feel anything other than unfulfillment as an extrovert, one must hurry to have(or the appearance of having) a steady and loving marriage/relationship, a steady, highly paid, emotionally fulfilling job, a house, cars, an active social life, a fulfilling family life, a solid benefits and retirement package, above average, well-behaved children.

These criteria might even sound fairly ordinary but most people never come close to actually achieving them, even if they appear to do so.  It’s difficult to maintain marriage, family, friends, children when working a job that actually pays and provides benefits.  Even if one gets benefits, not many people can spend long enough in a single job to really benefit from them.  Even if one actually has the qualifications and social contacts to get one of these salary jobs, it’s still not enough to really pay for a house and cars, just for the appearance of being able to pay for them.  Even in the best of worlds where someone manages to somehow have all the bases covered, it’s an exhausting, stressful, demanding, noisy life to live.  Even in this best case scenario, this is the bare minimum one must do in the mass Western society before one has permission to be even moderately happy or successful.

In the current social climate, it takes an introvert to step back and realize that real life is by nature messy and imperfect.  That one can’t ‘have it all.’  That succeeding in one thing usually means sacrifice in another.

Once one starts asking questions, the whole idea of extrovert ‘success’ is sadly delusional.  Happiness or sadness is all about expectations.

If one has unrealistic expectations, one can never really end up happy.  Success ends up being a theoretical ideal to which one tries to mold themselves.  Happiness is distant and intangible.

If one has realistic expectations, happiness is fairly easy to come by.  Success lies in making one’s peace with an imperfect, chaotic, transitory life.  Happiness is immediate and obtainable in our everyday lives.

The extrovert path to happiness and success is long, complicated, and comes with no guarantees.

The introverted path allows the possibility of happiness so long as one has clothes to wear, food to eat, and people to bond with.

It all goes back to a fundamental difference.

Loud things are grandiose, convoluted, and bloated

Subtle things are elegant, simple, and minimalistic

Introverts: Denizens of a Social Ghetto

Leads To: Subsistence of the Soul,
The Mark of Cain

When we say the word ghetto, we generally think of rap, thugs, and crime.  What we usually think of  is a modern economic ghetto, a neighborhood where all the poorest people live  and can’t afford to leave.

I would be bold enough to suggest however, that true introverts live in a social ghetto.   We don’t fit in and are forced to live as misfits and outsiders on the margins.  Most extroverts barely even seem to realize that we exist.  We are pushed aside into a separate ‘neighborhood’ where we live out an isolated existence.  Our state of existence is one of social poverty.

Growing up and even into college, I had to fight off resentment whenever extroverts complained about relationships and other forms of social connection I hadn’t even the luxury of aspiring to.   I understood that these people lived in another universe and that there was no way I could hope to make them understand that I had truly lived most of my life at the bare subsistence level.  Even if I could explain my situation to the other person, the response might be bewildered pity or possibly even contempt, but never understanding.  Part of the torture is that I couldn’t even really talk to anyone about my situation.

Over years, a lot of my energy had been focused on merely surviving.  It makes long term planning very difficult for me to this day.  Not long ago, I was bewildered whenever someone asked me questions about marriage, or having children.  That was all so distant as to be completely off my map.  The asker, usually a girl, would see my deer in the headlights look and conclude I was weird or just stupid.  To me, stable social relationships and settling down was a thing that the Accepted liked to talk about.  It had no relevance at all to my life.

Every encounter I had with normal people became akin to a clash of understanding and values sooner or later.  Usually sooner.  Our expectations of life were on different planets.  They were counting on a comfortable life and a family.  I was hoping for survival.  I could very well be in the same economic bracket as the person to whom I was talking yet clearly I was in some way impoverished.  Truly I lived in another place altogether from these normal people, a social ghetto of sorts.

On the internet, I’ve been discovering more and more people who grew up in the same neighborhood that I did and I’m enjoying it very much.

As a final note:

The first ghetto, Il Ghetto, was not an economic ghetto.  It was a holding area in the city of Venice where all the Jews in town were forced to live.  These Jews were often quite economically wealthy, but their social unbelonging led them to experience another, equally oppressive form of poverty.

Introvert Survival: Reducing Your Profile

If you’ve ever seen an oil painting or engraving of two men with dueling pistols, you might have noticed that they have both turned their bodies sideways with their arms tucked behind them so that they might be as small a target as possible.

All too often the Subtle person is in conflict with their society and finds that they are an enormous target. The accepted order has many means of attacking and coercing them. The situation seems all but hopeless.

If one would have any measure of independence from the mass society’s arbitrary standards, it is necessary to reduce your profile.

Avoid the tragedy of the lords

Most people try to appear as high in social status as possible by purchasing the highest social artifacts they can afford. This means buying a huge house, fancy cars, fancy clothes that keep one perpetually in debt. The consumer of today can look at Polynesian cultures that attached social status to gigantic stone wheels or towering ancestor statues and marvel at the absurdity of it all. Yet they remain oblivious that their own culture’s status artifacts are just another version of those very things. All their hoarded belongings are just a Yap stone wheel weighing them down.
For the Loud person, the drive to social competition and fear of social competitors simply become more acute with every dollar earned. The more they earn, the more they must appear as though they earned it. The wealthier they are, the higher the wages they must pay their wealth.
History is filled with kings who taxed their peasants as much as possible. Ironically, such a despot is no longer necessary. Today’s consumers continue to hand over money until the brink of starvation without any person or government coercing them. The mindless tyrant of mass social expectations has become more effective in stripping people of their resources than governments ever were.
Only if one separates from the mass culture can there be any hope of living one’s own life.

Financial liabilities tie you to the whims of society

Once you have mortgages, leases, and a car that depreciates as soon as it leaves the lot, you are committed.
Once these enormous commitments have been taken on, you can’t move anywhere, you can’t quit your job without going broke. You tell people you are ‘making a living’ but in reality you are hanging by a thread. Under such circumstances, you do not have the luxury of self determination. You have to do what the accepted order tells you to do so you can make it to the next paycheck.

The more dependent you are on society to give you money, the more vulnerable you are. High vulnerability makes you a very large, very easy target should you ever transgress.

Establish multiple passive sources of income

Investing in a steady, dependable portfolio and establishing side businesses establishes alternate, independent sources of income.
Money comes from these sources whether your boss likes you or not, whether or not you accidentally pissed off a co-worker at the company party, whether or not you are working for anyone.
The more money that comes for alternate sources, the less leverage society has against you, the smaller the target you present.
The dream is to reach a point where you no longer have to care what anyone thinks.
At this point, you may walk the streets, watching everyone else hurrying to their workplaces for the sake of their survival and realize that you alone of all those thousands have achieved freedom.

This is Social Immunity

Why Introverted Nerds Like Fantasy and Sci Fi

Builds Upon: The Anthropology of Nerd Societies: The Formation of New Group Identities Within Western Industrial Society

It’s perfectly Ok and respectable to have seen some trek and wars. However, you’re crossing way over the line if you know who Salacious Crumb is or know just how Shaka felt when the walls fell.
The new Battlestar Galactica is borderline respectable because of its general lack of aliens and elaborate makeup. You’ve probably gone too far though if you know the model number for each of the skinjobs.
You might possibly be able to pass yourself off as a semi-acceptable citizen even if you watch Stargate.
If you’re into firefly, B5, or Earth final conflict, forget it. It’s too late to save you.
If you:
-Consider yourself a member of clan Malkavian
-Have killed an ancient netch with the fork of horripilation
-Know the significance of the phrase ‘hello sailor’ or have been eaten by grues
-Have ever saved against death
-Know that every point of S after 3= -1 to armor save
-Have ever put a saproling token into play or accumulated poison counters
-Could swear Washington D.C. was founded in 4000 B.C. and believe Elvis has existed since ancient times
-Know the significance of the line “My shoes are too tight and I have forgotten how to dance.”
-Can sing ‘the man they call Jayne’ by heart.

then you have become indescribable in the horrific Lovecraftian sense of the word.
Yet there are lower levels still…

Some moderate exposure to fantasy and sci-fi is deemed to be an ordinary part of pop culture, but there’s a certain point where you’ve crossed the Rubicon and entered into Nerddom.

In Nerddom a movie, show, book, or computer game goes beyond mere entertainment. It becomes a subject of scholarly zeal and nationalistic devotion. In Nerddom one:
-Memorizes geographical features on fictional maps.
-Memorizes the specs of fictional weapons and vehicles.
-Masters a large body of spoken or written material to the point where they can quote from it at will.
-Knows details that are not actually divulged in the original work.
-Knows the customs, histories, or languages of fictional peoples…

To those who live on the surface, these behaviors are completely irrational and bizarre.
Acceptable people wonder why anyone would be so fervent about such obscure information.
Obscurity and exclusivity is precisely the point! Far from being insane, it’s a ritual of distinguishing those who belong to Nerddom from those who belong on the surface of society.
When people do not identify with the culture they were born into, surely it is no stretch of the imagination that they would invent a new culture.
Every culture has its lore and mythology. The culture of Nerddom is no different. A denizen of the surface might say ‘OMG WTF, why would anyone ever learn that?’
One could just as easily ask the same thing of conventional pop culture with its emphasis on frivolous details from the personal lives of countless ‘celebrity’ strangers.
In any given society, shared lore is hugely important. All those small details help bring members closer together while simultaneously keeping outsiders in their place. The small details are difficult to learn properly unless one is genuinely enthusiastic about the values held by the group. It is a means of quickly filtering out impostors.

Among surface dwellers, nerdly scholarship is at best regarded as an amusing and pitiable curiosity. At worst, it is seen as a symptom of derangement and an attack on traditional society.
Those who belong notice a pattern:
Nerddom attracts lots of people who just can’t seem to fit in.
This observation only reinforces the disgust of Accepted observers. Nerddom is the place where rejects go and hide from ‘reality.’

Why does this phenomenon exist?
It ought to be obvious!

When one grows up as a misfit and shares few interests with their peers, one undergoes regular bouts of social censure from an early age.
All one gets from the ‘real world’ of the conventional social environment is negative reinforcement. The every day experience is one of alienation and humiliation.

Why then is it a surprise then that those who are rejected should turn to fictional worlds?! Fictional realities in which all the traits that merit rejection are accepted. Fictional worlds far away from the order that judges and condemns.

These fictional worlds are an escape and separation from a hostile society, but that is only the beginning.
Having been thrown away like garbage by one’s birth culture, it follows that one ought to actively distance oneself from the conventions of one’s oppressors. By doing this one moves from a land and culture associated with shame and loneliness to new lands that promote pride and serve as a means of group bonding with others who have been cast out.
Before long, you have a black market of social belonging operating under the surface of the ‘Legal’ order. I suspect a lot of conventional resentment comes from the fact that the orthodoxy’s monopoly on acceptance and rejection has been effectively broken. Seeing Fracture in progress is inherently disturbing to those who believe there is only one Correct social order.

Far from being crazy or a curiosity, Nerddom is the understandable easily predictable result of the present system. Why on Earth would someone reviled by their fellow Earthlings stay on Earth when it is so easy to emigrate?

To sum it all up, emigration to Nerddom is a means of:

-Declaring independence from a hostile society. Unable to succeed and too isolated to bring any change, the best solution is to secede from a harsh and abusive organization.
-Including those who fail to identify with the conventional ways
-Excluding one’s persecutors.
-Finding pride and belonging when one’s birth culture gave only shame and exclusion
-Escaping to a place where it is not necessary to constantly be on guard. It is a way of releasing accumulated tension and stress.

In time, what started as a temporary shelter becomes more of a home than the birth culture ever was. In a sense, all of those fictional worlds are more real, more genuine than ‘reality’ ever was. From a shameful beginning characterized by being a sin, absolution follows.

How to Live With an Introvert Roommate

To comfortably share an abode with a Subtle sort of person, one must extend but one basic principle to all dealings:

-Reduce social obligation and friction of association.

I must begin by explaining the difference of one’s room to the introvert and the extrovert.

For an extrovert, a room is a place to crash in between episodes of social activity. It’s just a tool required for basic rest and shelter.

For the introvert, one’s room is home, sanctuary, and all important private kingdom. One who is Subtle deals with a world that neither accepts nor understands their ways. The room is often the one place in the world where they can really feel safe and relaxed.

An extroverted roommate is one of the introverted person’s greatest fears: The fear that one who is grounded in the orthodox society brings that society with them into the room, effectively eliminating the last haven.

For an introvert, being forced to immerse in the hostile society even in their home is one of the greatest imaginable violations. I imagine that many an extrovert has found themself with an introverted roommate who was constantly surly, closed, and hostile, seemingly without reason.

Some intial steps:
-Keep your movies and music on headphones unless you’re both explicitly watching or listening to it.
-Don’t snap fingers, tap, clap, or slap your knees while listening to music/movies. These noisy antics are worse than second hand smoke.
-For phone calls, take the cell phone out in the hallway, and don’t talk loudly, especially to someone who’s not actually in the room. Extremely rude!
-Don’t make your room an entertaining center for groups of friends, especially not late at night or while all of you are drunk. If you wish for peace with an introvert, just bring in one or two friends at a time and don’t pursue any particularly loud or obtrusive activities. Asking permission, negotiating first will get you far. Actually, just showing respect by giving some form of advance notice is usually good enough.

This might seem like a lot to ask, but consider what all these situations have in common. By doing any of these things in the room, you are imposing your values and lifestyle on your roommate. You are deciding what your roommate will listen to, who they have to live with, and exactly when they have to do these things. You have decided that you are vested with the natural authority to make life decisions for your roommate! As far as an introvert is concerned, you might as well jump across the room, ransack their belongings, and piss all over their mattress.

If you persist with typical extrovert habits when you have an introverted roommate, you will needlessly make an enemy! An enemy who perceives that you have given up all rights to your personal living preferences and belongings. You will be accorded no respect because you never gave any. Your roommate will be watching for any weakness or means of forcing you out.

Your introverted roommate’s essential needs are very simple: one half of one room as their respected and safe domain. From the Subtle perspective, this is not only a reasonable demand, it seems cruel and miserly that someone who has the entire outside world on their side cannot be bothered to spare one 5×12 foot rectangle.

Other than that,
-Do not always give/expect greetings and farewells when leaving or arriving.
-Don’t impose your social expectations on your roommate.
-If in doubt whether it needs to be said, don’t say it.
-If you leave your roommate alone, your introverted roommate will happily reciprocate.
-IMPORTANT! DON’T disturb your introverted roomate if they are clearly concentrating on something unless it is very important.

Once you’ve shown basic respect, chances are, your Subtle roommate will grow comfortable and eventually actually approach you.
The key is that you cannot make control of the room into a social power struggle as extroverts naturally do. You have to respect your introvert roommate as an equal or no deal. Introverts operate according to tacit understandings and unseen contracts. What is most important does not need to be said because it is self evident from the nature of the situation.

Only when friction of association and social obligation are reduced to mutually acceptable levels are there grounds for friendly and harmonious co-existence.