Negative Charisma

A friend of mine was once wondering what stats we would have if we were D and D characters.  We supposed we might have strengths of 12 or so and less than impressive dexterity.  When it came to charisma… My friend stopped and thought for a moment.  “You probably have negative charisma.” He concluded.  I definitely agreed with him.  Never in my life had I stood out and taken over a group of any kind.  Furthermore, I had a special talent for getting people to dislike me without any effort at all.  I’d look back and wonder what I’d done to piss them off.  Negative charisma seemed the best explanation.

Over time, I became better versed in social conventions but the idea of an opposite to the classic charismatic personality stuck with me.  I eventually started thinking of it as a virtue.  Something different than merely being disagreeable, something more than being the  sunny, charming, crowd pleaser that everyone seems to worship.

‘Beware the charismat’ I sometimes told myself.  It was a warning against the golden boy or girl of the hour who walks into the room and mesmerizes everyone.  A charismat is perfect in their mannerisms and dazzling in their conduct.  They are too good to be true, almost certainly disingenuous.  They lack the most important virtue: a flaw.  The charismat is the polished contrived sort of leader that thrives off of mass media in Western nations.

For a Subtle person, the most charismatic and inspirational people are those who act strange and awkward by the standards of Western society, who speak quietly rather than ostentatiously, who know how to share the stage rather than dominate, who know how to collaborate rather than compete.

A truly inspirational person does not conceal all their flaws and does not reveal all their strengths.  The inspirational person is calm, matter of fact,  never boastful, never sanctimonious, never patronizing.

To the Subtle  person, eccentricities are one of the most endearing elements of the human character and figure strongly into the personality of someone inspirational.

Negative Charisma is about substance over form.  A true introvert finds a speaker with a weak voice or a stammer to be inspirational if there is solid expertise, knowledge, and insight behind their words.  It is not about the means of delivery but the content delivered.

One who has negative charisma strives to be underestimated in order to select against those who understand only what is aggressively, outwardly flaunted.  It seemed to me that the fulfillment of one with negative charisma might come in a moment of vindication:  When the Golden person overextends, underestimates and is confronted by strength where they expected only weakness and submission as usual.  In such a moment, a charismat would be exposed with imperfections before their adoring crowd.  The first instance of resistance and refutation to the seemingly unstoppable force of their personality would break their power.   One with negative charisma would prevail as the Golden person was cast down by former worshipers.

Those with Negative Charisma never put themselves on a pedestal.  They never set out to be the strongest, best liked, most charming person.    They have no need to maintain a public image.  Their object is never to move all the crowd but to speak to the most thoughtful persons within  it.  The moment of vindication arrives when one who sits powerfully but precariously on the shoulders of a multitude throws their strength against one who is alone but immovable.

Extroverts and the Concept of ‘Deserval’

We turn on the TV and encountering the concept is inevitable:

“I deserve it.” says a waifish, urban thirty-something woman as she justifies buying that expensive dress or that decadent slice of raspberry chocolate cheesecake in the store window.

“Why pay more? We’ll give you the low price you deserve!” says the affable fortyish car salesman with a silver buckle and cowboy hat during the commercial break.

When we turn off the TV encountering the concept is inevitable:

Most extroverts seem to have a concept that there are things they ‘deserve:’

Lower prices, a raise, free health care, flexible mortgage rates, a pension, a secure retirement, a facial, a new set of power tools, disposable income, a stable career, honest politicians……….

How do they decide what they deserve?  Why do they deserve it?  Isn’t the whole idea of deserving completely subjective and fluid?  Another TV cliche comes to mind:

Henchman: Master, I brought you the power crystal as you commanded!  (hands it over)

Cardboard Cutout Villain:  Ah, finally!  I have it now.  Now I will give you exactly what you deserve!

*Henchman greedily anticipates goodies right up to the moment Villain pointlessly kills him with the power crystal*

As an introvert I looked to history and to the people around me without finding any sensical answer.  I was confused.  Surely the concept of deserving was entirely meaningless.  No one gets what they want just because they decide they deserve it!  Why would anyone actually be swayed or flattered by a sycophant assuring you that you ‘deserve’ more?  Why would someone justify their actions with ‘deserval.’  What do they see in the whole empty idea of deserving something?

I got an inkling when I for a time interacted with kids in a classroom setting.  The people I was working for insisted I give the kids points for answering questions in class and taking away points when they misbehaved or didn’t turn in homework.  There was an entire elaborate system on the board for everyone to see with a tally of total points for every kid who passed through the room in the course of a day.  The kids had created an entire system of social prestige around these point rankings that they took very seriously.

Children have a very strong sense of a primal, tribal level sense of social justice.  They would be horrified if they thought one of the students deserved a point and I hadn’t given it.

When given an extra point on accident, even the beneficiary would instantly come forth and tell me to take away the undeserved point.

The kids always screamed for the worst possible punishment for anyone they saw breaking the rules.  When punished themselves, they accepted it glumly but without question.  As much as they hated punishment, they seemed to concede that they deserved it.

I realized that most of these children, especially the extroverted ones carry some semblance of this tribal level concept of social justice into adult life.

I began to realize I was rather strange for not having an intuitive grasp of ‘deserve.’  Upon further reflection I realize that the whole idea ceased to have meaning for me long ago during my own childhood.  Living as an outsider from the outset, I took plenty of punishment just by virtue of being insufficiently protected from the pent up malice of others.   It was clear I hadn’t done anything bad to anger those who gave me difficulty.  There was no reason for any of it.  Whether I deserved or didn’t deserve had no meaning at all.

As an introvert, I was never truly part of the tacitly understood justice system that governed most of the other children.  Partly because of my fundamental personality and predispositions, partly because of the isolation created by my predispositions, I never fully acquired the concept of ‘deserval.’  In absence of this tribal justice, I viewed the school world around me in terms of power relationships.  Bullies didn’t deserve to have power.  They had power because they were able to take power.  Really quite simple.  I also had an inkling at an early age that bullies would never treat insiders the same way as outsiders.  They would even be quite deferent to someone higher ranking.  Was there any reason the people the bullies respected deserved respect?  Not really.  They just had more power.

A group of kids who knew each other in a structured classroom environment functioned well using their inborn senses of deserval.   The point system I had to use made abundantly clear how every kid in the classroom was aware of the exact prestige level of every other kid.  Each kid had an astoundingly precise mental tally of what every other kid deserved or didn’t deserve in class.  Their feelings of justice and injustice were visceral and resulted in emotional protest whenever there was the slightest breach.

Now let’s look at these kids as adults.  Most of adult life takes place outside of a structured classroom and they live in a society full of millions of strangers.  The tribal level deserval impulse runs amok in this environment.  When most people they meet have outsider status, they are not subject to tribal ethics.  Furthermore everyone needs to compete to get ahead.  Even people who aren’t strangers are often competitors.  As pressure increases, everyone has to work hard for survival and for prestige.  When people work hard just to make it, the deserval meter goes right off the charts.  However, they’re hard pressed to find anyone who will acknowledge the fullness of what they think they deserve. There’s no impartial chief or arbitrator keeping track of points on the board.  Most adults get cheated out of what they deserve.  The daily flouting of their intuitive systems of justice makes them increasingly sure that they deserve compensation while others deserve punishment.  Thus getting what they deserve by any means becomes justified on the most deeply visceral level.  Since others do not even seem to acknowledge the intuitive justice system, they are outsiders who do not need to accommodated or given consideration anyway.

This ‘justice gap’ attitude seeps into all of life until a Surface person sincerely believes they deserve to eat raspberry chocolate cheese cake without paying the consequences of eating it.  On the most primal level, deserving is about compensation for the crushing pressure and wrongs inflicted by an unjust life.  When ‘compensation’ is inevitably canceled out by consequences, the Surface person has been cheated yet again of getting any closer to a measure of tribal justice.

The deep and unobtainable nature of this compensation fantasy makes it ideal content for advertising.  What better way to reach people than to promise to soothe their battered egos, to promise to scratch that itch they can never quite seem to reach, to relieve the hurt that nothing seems to cure?

Life After Mass Society?

Leads to: True and False Pleasures of Life
Builds Upon: The Worlds of Sun and Moon

I received this comment from a reader:

Hey this is Adi. I have been reading a lot of your posts and like this blog a lot and I am posting for the first time.

I have a question that has been bugging me since I first started reading some of your posts. Before that let me clarify that I am your fellow intorvert as well. What I want to ask is, I still don’t understand a purpose of life that doesn’t involve social success and achieving a position in society. Because, the way I have been growing up, a lot of things that you have mentioned are extrovert traits are, the ones I have possessed too in spite of being an introvert. And yes, the way you have stated earlier, I too have wished that I was a person who is sought after by people, can make social bonds easily. But it hasn’t happened and then after realizing my true selves, I have started accepting myself. But still, I do not understand the purpose of life if you remain completely detached and aloof from society. Can you explain what are you living this life for? One example could be living for a very crazy passion if you do possess one. But what if you don’t?

Someone gets all the certificates and learns a skill.
Then the skill abruptly goes obsolete or gets outsourced.  All that effort for nothing.

Someone works for a lifetime and then retires.
They ask themselves, “Why am I still here.”

Someone comes up with a great idea or does the majority of the work on a project.
Their manager takes all the credit and moves up yet another notch on the ladder.

Does all that social stuff really give us purpose or does it merely distract us from questions of purpose?
You can get rewards and praise for doing what the society values, but is it all just noise that distracts from asking whether society values the right things, or whether the society is good and just?
What kind of person makes it to the top of society?  Are these the people who should be on top?  Are they good and just?
Does society care about you to the degree you care about it?  Can a mass society care about you?  If it can’t care, are you just another insignificant worker bee?  How then does society provide us with purpose or meaning?

Does it matter how many gold stars society puts on your forehead if you’ve not learned to be happy with who you are?  If somebody took away those gold stars tomorrow, what would remain?  If you lived for the gold stars and they’re gone now, who are you?

If one doesn’t have any ‘very crazy’ passions, perhaps they should explore and find some.

You’ve brought up excellent questions.  Questions that open up more questions.  Questions that can be scary to confront.  But there is a much deeper sense of peace and identity when we begin to figure out the answers.

When you don’t let the sum of all people(society) dictate who you are, the result is immense freedom.  This freedom has nothing to do with going off to a mountain monastery or living as a hermit.  It’s a state of mind that allows you to perceive the world around you differently:
Think of it this way:

Imagine someone living in a fabulously wealthy society where everyone is expected to have a palace.
This person feels stressed out, unhappy, and ‘poor’ because they can only afford a sumptuous Victorian mansion(butler included).  So long as social expectations define their world view, they will remain unhappy no matter what fantastic luxuries they might have.  Circumstances might change but the big questions are constant.  “How will I get what they have?”, “What will they think?”, What will they say?”

As soon as the person begins to derive expectations from within,  they see the mansion through new eyes.   The person is free to perceive its beauty for the very first time.  It is no longer a disgusting source of social shame, it is a house.  An enormous house abundantly equipped to fulfill every possible human need.  A house far bigger than anyone could possibly need.   Suddenly, it seems ludicrous that one’s life purpose could have been chasing after a still bigger house.  Surely it was never a purpose at all, just a way to pass the time until death.

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

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.

Women Introverts

I’m writing this as a male, I welcome introvert females who want to comment, add to, or correct me on this matter.

To begin with, women introverts are rarer than their male counterparts.  Or at least, those women considered introverted are still considerably more social in nature than their male counterparts.

I’ve met a few in my lifetime who really fit the description.  In general they had a horrible time growing up,  same as males, but the nature of their experience was quite different.

Because truly introverted behavior is so unusual in women, it begets some truly nasty reactions.  Every pair of parents wants and expects their daughter to be bright, happy, social, and cheerful.  Little girls are expected to be pleasing and put a warm fuzzy feeling in everyone’s(especially daddy’s) tummy.  Everyone wants their little girl to be  a golden girl.  Most girls step right into this role with glee and thrive on the attention they’re given.

Yet now that I’ve met introvert females I’ve seen the special treatment and attention girls get has its sinister side.  There quite simply is no place for girls who behave differently or who don’t fulfill their narrow expectations.  Such girls are thought of us as ‘strange’ and are kept out of sight for fear of shame while sunny extroverts are flaunted.  Some parents are understanding, but the introvert girls I’ve known have had at least one parent who reacted negatively to them from a young age.

Most introverted girls tell me that they don’t get along well with other girls, least of all the social hostesses, soccer moms, and sorority girls.

Like men, they endured a lot of teasing from both sexes while growing up.

While introvert men are shut away entirely from the world of romance and relationships, introvert girls just end up in bad relationships because of low self esteem during their teenage years.

Unlike other girls who keep making this same mistake all their lives, an introvert woman’s heart hardens and she learns her lesson quickly.  She becomes one of those rare and precious women who isn’t chasing millionaires and movie stars.

Introvert women are much more pragmatic and analytical than other women, more so than most men.  They value fairness in a relationship and treasure the quality of a relationship over the material things that can be extracted from it.

While many women speak loudly and rapidly, introvert women tend to speak more slowly and deliberately.  They love spending time outdoors and wear less makeup than other women.

They have a deep appreciation for spells of silence and natural beauty.

They are often superb writers with a lot of creativity and flair for describing the details.

Introvert women always amaze me because they basically contradict everything male cynics have said for centuries.

The sad thing is that most of them, even as adults don’t understand just how precious they are.