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

Why Are Such A High Proportion of Gifted People Introverted?

From a number of sites, I have learned that while introverts are very much in the minority of the population, we make up a strong majority of the gifted population.

This information comes as no surprise.

What kind of person is busy studying for fun in their spare time?

What kind of person has a personality that lends itself to deep thought?

What kind of person thinks in terms of the big picture?

Much of an extrovert’s superiority in social environments comes from thinking less.   If an introvert is standing in a long line.  They think: There’s thousands of people here.  If everyone chose to advance themselves by any means, there would be chaos and everyone loses.  I’ll continue standing here.

An extrovert thinks:  I’m tired of standing in line.  I will do whatever necessary to make things better for me.  The extrovert wins because there is no time spent reflecting.  The extrovert is lean and mean, geared for survival and unburdened by other concerns.

Introverts are disadvantaged in part because of their penchant for critical reasoning.  While an introvert is busy thinking  in terms of game theory, the extrovert has already gone out and played the game.

It takes an introvert to be emotionally detached from our own being, our own immediate benefit, and consider our existence in terms of the universe around us, on a larger scale, in the long term.  While stopping to think in the abstract compromises our ability to compete in the big social game, only people who can think outside of the game can ever hope to change the rules or operate outside of them.

Thus, the aggressive extrovert might succeed in moving up a few hundred places in line, working themselves half to death in the process.  The introvert, though far behind, has the potential to find a way to avoid the line entirely while still achieving their aims.  They have the presence of mind to actually ask, “Will my aims be achieved at the end of the line?  If so will it be worth it?  If worth it, is there an easier way?  If not worth it, why am I still in this line?”

The abstract and deep reasoning that socialites associate with rocket scientists is the default pattern of thought for an introvert.  Delving into larger problems and searching for the simplest solution comes as second nature.   Thus, it is a matter of course that gifted persons are largely introverts.

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

Extrovert Critic: “You’ll Never Get Laid If You ____”

How many times has any male introvert nerd been told “If you like (DandD, klingons, magic cards, x…) you’ll never get any girls”?
The aim of this criticism is to point out the superiority of the accepted orthodoxy over the divergent path. The argument is that “You will not be rewarded with social approval for your actions, therefore you are foolish, wrong, and irrational.”
After a lifetime of receiving such criticism and mockery, it becomes easy to start accepting such views as truth. However, the way people and societies work is considerably more complex than extrovert critics care to realize:

Girls aren’t usually interested in dungeons and dragons but neither do they tend to be terribly interested in the intricacies of professional sports, fighting wars, or entering blazing buildings. A pro athlete, soldier, or firefighter tends to attract women not because women share their interests but because of their:
-high social status
-high level of congruency with the orthodoxy.

Many women in the West see sci fi/fantasy fandom as a negative trait because such interests are associated with low social standing and low levels of congruency with the larger society. The general perception is that Nerddom is a zone for beta males who can’t compete in the ‘real’ society.

Thus, if D and D repels the typical cheerleader or sorority girl, it is not because of any inherent property of the game itself. It is about the social meaning attached to the game by any given society. There is no inherent reason, as extrovert critics love to assert, that nerd games ought to be unappealing to women.
The extrovert critic represents the limited perspective of but one of the world’s many societies:

South Korea is a country that treats real time strategy as a professional sport, the players enjoy a great deal of prestige and have no problems with opposite sex. One top protoss player named Bisu is renowned for his good looks and has countless adoring female fans. The players get supplied with pretty ‘booth girls’ who serve them drinks or take care of their needs during the course of a match. The studio audiences at these starcraft matches are composed of people of all ages and contain a high percentage of women.

Thus, if Dungeons and Dragons were on national television and the football team was an underground movement of social outcasts, the roles would be effectively reversed. It is simply a matter of social values.

Thus, if outcasts formed a cohesive new order with their own values installed as the orthodoxy, one need not worry about girls. There would be plenty of prestige and social congruency attached to previously derided and undesirable activities.
Yet another aspect of absolution!

Introverts and Sports

Sports in their most popular form are just another social venue. The minority players are involved in an intricate group activity and the majority spectators are involved in a mass cult of fandom.

A Subtle person tends not to fall into either of these categories. The wide world of sports is merely another obstacle in the way of belonging to the surrounding society. Attending team rallies and wearing team paraphernalia seems exotically tribal and altogether incomprehensible.

Why?

Someone who tends to feel out of touch with the group mentality is unlikely to feel drawn to team sports and probably even less so to the idolization of team sports.
Participating in a team sport is a ritual of belonging and being part of a social machine. It is about achieving victory by taking the ‘I’ out of team and subordinating oneself to the group for the benefit of all. A career outsider naturally doesn’t perceive the appeal of engaging in team sport. Why contribute to a ritual of social endorsement when one has never felt a part of society? Why make a dramatic display of submitting to a collective when one has never felt a part of the collective?
Adulation for athletes is distasteful to the outsider. Athletes’ enormous social status gained by playing a mere game seems artificial and shallow. Those who belong by participating in and promoting a hostile social system are more enemies than sympathetic heroes or ‘role models.’ To bow down to and give the gift of adoration and loyalty to a stranger who will never know or care about you seems the lowest and most abject form of subservience.
This lowest subservience would be given to the very people who in our youths stood at the top of the pyramid in which we never had a place.
-They were the enforcers and preservers of a hostile system.
-They were the arbitrary masters of our world for no real reason that anyone could figure. The parents, the newspapers, the ‘community’, everyone seemed to place them on a pedestal for no particular reason. They were the physical manifestation of everything the system selected for. They were the nobility of social Correctness.
To article: ‘Sports Do Not Belong In Schools’

From my personal experience:

I am actually a fairly athletic person and have been involved with cross country and track and field. These are not exactly team sports, but people from the same school do work together to win. I found that I never really belonged socially even in these lower key environments because any sport overwhelmingly seems to attract those who have a collectivist mindset. Most of my teammates had exceptionally strong ties to the popular culture and saw sport primarily as a social activity

I repeatedly found myself an outsider in these organizations.
Only in cross country did I really stand a chance. This sport tends to be the lowest in terms of social prestige and it has the potential to attract nerds who have neither the coordination or the keen feel for group dynamics required to excel in team sports. Unfortunately, even cross country was not exactly a safe haven. For most participants, the sport was their cardio social session between a sedentary summer break and the popular winter games– volleyball and basketball. Members of the chess club were still in the minority. Even on the extreme, where Subtle folk could exist in the world of sport, it was still a contentious border zone whereas the classic team sports were entirely within hostile territory.

What are some of the reasons I did not quite fit in even in the friendliest possible sports environment?
Most of my teammates saw it primarily as a social activity. ‘Stretching’ often lasted half an hour to an hour. Not only do I lack shared interests with most athletes, I was seething the whole time as I thought of how I’d have time for nothing but homework by the time I finally got home. Furthermore, I approach exercise from a rationalistic perspective. Physical fitness and self improvement come first. I joined a running club so I could get better at running.

This brings me to consider:
Why is the Subtle ethic opposed with the world of sport?

Opposite values and life experiences:

The Subtle are those who have been in conflict with their social surroundings since an early age.
For some of them, lack of athletic talent/coordination have been contributing factors to their present situation of social otherness.
Society has shown itself to be an arbitrary, capricious tyrant. As such it has no legitimate claim on our lives.
A personal system of values is above the values that we are taught. Progress is achieved by progressively improving oneself.
One can always find new ways to achieve progress.
Those who are subtle cultivate a tight inner circle. They relate to and give themselves only to a few. One ought to recognize their human limits and focus on those who are most important.
Countless millions of dollars go into charity and yet world hunger is rampant: food aid only worsens the situation by spurring additional unsustainable population growth.

Athletes are those who have seamlessly integrated with their social surroundings from their earliest years. For many of them, outstanding coordination and athletic skills combined with excellent social skills have catapulted them to the heights of the orthodoxy.
Having fit in by their very nature, it seems as though society is all encompassing with a place for everyone. Those few who have difficulties just need to put in a little more effort and ‘get out more.’ The legitimacy of their society is taken for granted by virtue of its mass acceptance and their personal success within it.
To make one’s own values is a destructive departure from the group. Progress is achieved by improving the prestige of the team to which one belongs.
Progress has a tangible goal. Progress ends at the top of the pyramid whether one is trying to win the state championship or become the CEO. Outside of established structures, there is only the Void.
They sincerely believe the best way of ‘making the world a better place’ is cleaning up trash from the roadside on Sunday afternoons and giving money to monolithic charity organizations.
World hunger would disappear overnight if only more people engaged in such ‘service projects.’

Sports culture is a manifestation and promotion of Loud values. Those who excel in the world of sports naturally tend to be Loud people.
Thus one who ‘doesn’t follow sports’ can never quite an insider among those who stand within the orthodoxy.
As a celebration of all that is social and socially accepted, the world of sports is at best an obstacle and at worst a menace in the life of a true introvert.

Extrovert ‘reality’

Leads To: The Most Precious Resource: Legitimacy,
Collective Checkmate

Introverts are frequently criticized for ‘living under a rock,’ ‘being sheltered’, and of course ‘being out of touch with reality.
So what exactly do they mean by ‘reality’? What do they imply is an insubstantial fantasy land?

The extroverted critic clearly presupposes a very precise meaning of all that is ‘real,’ tangible, and substantial.
From their criticisms we can infer that their reality could be defined as as:
the sum of the shared knowledge, preferences, and actions of every person in a given mass society.

The more people who are doing any given thing, the more real it is. I suppose this because:
the strength of criticisms they administer is proportional to the popularity of x thing ‘everybody else has heard of’ or ‘everybody else likes’ or ‘everybody else has done/experienced.’

The extrovert critic demonstrates that being defined by their surrounding society is one of their cardinal values. This is a value that is suddenly and jarringly violated when they discover the ‘serious’ person in the corner hasn’t heard of their favorite band. So important and ‘real’ is a detailed knowledge of the mass collective that they quite literally conceive of its absence in one’s life as existence in a land of fantasy and illusion.
To understand the Loud perspective is to understand that being even slightly out of tune with one’s surrounding mass society is to be mentally ill. From their definition of reality, it is the logical conclusion for them to arrive at that someone divergent lives in a realm of delusion.

Why A True Introvert Will Never Change

Introverts have wished many, many times that we could be more extroverted, that life in society could be just a little easier. We tell ourselves again and again that we ought to ‘get out more’. Many of the books and websites about introversion are about how not to be introverted. As an expression of human desire, the market readily tells us that being an introvert is a difficult place to be. Most introverts want out. Or at least we think we do.

When decision time arrives we always stick to what we were doing before. At some point we have to face the fact that ‘getting out more’ means spending time in a noisy environment with people who look down on us as inferiors. When the time comes to suck it up and shed our personality for a new one that will make life easy we never move forward. The fact is that true introverts are kidding themselves when it comes to changing.

What always stops us if we really look inside ourselves is that we don’t really want to change, not even if we could.

Yes we would like to be accepted like an extrovert, yes we would like to make life easier. We’ve all daydreamed about it, but then, when we arrive at the decision point, reality strikes. We suddenly realize that to even attempt to change, we would have to sacrifice everything that we like and value about ourselves. Such a moment forces us to realize that in part we have chosen to be as we are in spite of the difficulties. When it comes time to reject ourselves, we discover that it is and always will be worth the sacrifice required to be the selves we most admire

It’s hard to survive as an introvert. It is considerably harder to put food on the table, secure shelter, meet all the basic needs. Hardest of all is securing human companionship. Life is often loneliness. Surely it would seem, we must change ourselves for the sake of survival. We all must put on a semblance of being someone else in order to make it, but it never seems to go beyond a skin deep conscious effort. We merely compartmentalize the self we love and keep it safely, completely separate from our mask. Our very deepest desires strive to ensure that our pretend identity never taints our true one. We insist on holding tightly to our introverted ways even when survival is on the line.

Are we stubborn and irrational then?
One reader of this blog wrote to me about how he felt after spending some time out with his friends:

“I have to sit down now and find myself again as
I feel I almost lose touch of where I am.”

When introverts spend too much time matching the expectations of another environment, we start to feel a sense of disconnection from ourselves. We stand contrary to all the forces and currents that surround us, sacrificing much and risking everything. Ultimately, we are willing to compromise survival to be connected with our best self. No amount of material benefit or power can compensate for losing the supreme power–

The power of determining who is to be our inseparable companion,
The self we must live with every second of our lives,
The self that colors our perception of all the world around us.

We cannot not truly desire to change even were we faced with death, because when it comes to the decision point, we realize that losing ourselves is merely death by another name.

The Myth of Introvert Weakness

Weak, shy, sheltered, spineless, head in the clouds, detached from ‘reality’

These are the things extroverts tend to assume about someone who does not immediately compete for attention. All such a person knows is the attention game. Anyone not playing is of course just someone who can’t play it very well. The extrovert sees people who can’t quite make it sleeping on park benches and assume they’ve encountered the same phenomenon when they meet an introvert. If they can be bothered to notice, their response is a mixture of pity and disgust.

In their view:
-One who does not speak out loudly is weak
-One who does not automatically assume they are right about everything has no spine
-One who does not attend attention conventions(social events) is sheltered.
-One who puts priority on mastering their inner selves has their head in the clouds.
-One who looks to the way society could be and recognizes that change is constant is out of touch with ‘reality.’

What we have ultimately is a rather low and contemptible individual. What we also have is a misunderstood individual.

The true introvert is in fact very strong and far more stable than the extrovert:

-There is no need to compete for validation from others by speaking loudly.
-There is the resourcefulness to consider what other views have to offer
-The ‘sheltered’ introvert builds knowledge and skills while the ‘wordly’ extrovert fritters away countless hours in idle chitchat.
-One who masters their inner self is made strong against anything that comes from without.
-One who looks to future possibilities recognizes that the present ‘reality’ is fleeting.

Extroverts readily click with their society and swim in its substance without difficulty. It makes life a lot easier.
Life is a struggle for the introvert. A struggle just to survive even as we watch the socialites thriving. We learn early that life isn’t fair, that society is inherently unjust. We expect punishment before reward. To be left alone is usually the best that can be hoped for.
Extroverts tend to deftly blind themselves to injustice(‘that’s reality’) are rather sheltered compared to introverts. Since there is no life for them outside of social status, they will follow any instructions given them by their authority figures. From the introvert perspective this seems rather spineless! Without some measure of self definition and defiance, most introverts would have been crushed long ago.

The introvert regularly deals with challenges that the extrovert simply cannot imagine. Basic social survival can never be taken for granted, only alone or with a few friends can one’s guard be relaxed. Life under the shimmering surface of society is not for weaklings.

Friction of Association and Social Selectivity

According to present tendencies:

-The more people in society, the less personal it becomes.
-The more mechanical it becomes, the more sophisticated formal rules and red tape required to maintain order.
-The more people, the more everyone has to sacrifice for everyone else.
-The more people, the less powerful the individual becomes.

This trend is an example of what I like to call friction of association.

Yes, there are tremendous advantages to reaping the productivity of a mass society, but it comes with a terrible price.
Redundancy cushioning is the predictable emergent property of this trend: Eventually the phenomenon of aggregated humanity itself becomes so large that no single person or group can make any significant change. Mass society itself becomes in effect enthroned as a mindless autocrat.

People form into groups to benefit from their combined productivity, for companionship, for protection, for increased variety of available mates. When friction of association reaches a certain threshold, losses begin to outweigh benefits. The abstraction of ‘group’ itself solidifies into a substantial governing force beyond any means of human regulation or accountability. It is difficult to hold a corporation accountable for its ‘actions’ when treated as a single being for legal purposes. It is altogether impossible to do so with an overgrown society.

The only way out of such a situation is Fracture. To cease to acknowledge the autocrat, to create a new group.
To prevent the cycle from repeating itself, it is necessary to model new groups with the objective of minimizing friction of association.

One of the most successful ways this has been done is by being selective about who is admitted. Whoever is a member of your society is someone for whom you share responsibility. The beliefs and expectations of each person admitted determine what is to be the collective culture of the group. As such, high selectivity holds a social body to its original ‘intentions’ and keeps it in the service of those who founded it.

History tells us that cultures with precise definitions of belonging and exclusion are the longest lived. Excellent examples are the Jewish and Armenian communities that have persisted across milennia despite multiple attempts to wipe them out altogether.

These two example cultures endured stressors that would break apart any other social group because they had a well defined criteria for belonging (ethnicity) and most importantly, a complex shared tradition formally written down to serve as an impermeable barrier to outsiders and a powerful force of unity to those on the inside.