Is It Just Me? Identifying the Boundaries of Introversion
By Guest Writer Karla Holland
When I discovered that there was a word for my personality type, i.e. “Introversion”, I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I no longer felt alone. Not once did I consider it a disorder, because it’s a personality type. Naturally, I started backtracking to every relationship I had in the past to look again with new eyes. A few memories made sense, some did not. As I continued my education, I began to put a few more pieces together. Life in general helped fill in the rest. To get to this this point I asked the critical question: Was it me? Well, I was surprised how little my introversion played back then, and what that has taught me.
Social Media and The Generation Gap
Social media is effecting social interaction and redefining the social skills of the generation growing up with the technology. To add to the mix, some baby boomers and many of their elders are still coping with the digital world’s impact on social interaction. Introverts have probably had one of their rants thrown in their direction, God knows I have. “She’s too quiet” ,“She needs to talk more” “You need to go out like other gals.” Don’t take it personally. Like homosexuality, cancer, and being an only child, it’s one of those statuses that has since lost their negative diagnosis and to which these generations must adjust their mindset. The may never understand how much social media has helped introverts’ social lives.
While we’re on the subject of social changes, I must point out on factor that has an impact on social skills regardless of technology – Culture. The way people express one another socially will vary among cultures and in a nation of immigrants, cultural clash will occur. For example, Russians will not smile at strangers, which they find “insincere”, preserving such gestures for close friends. Japan’s entire social structure is shaped around introversion. In contrast, United States is still an extroverted culture, so naturally, Japan is often portraryed in US media as “emotionless” negatively or “shy” positively. In return, their portrayals of Americans are boisterous loudmouths. Dont fret though (hehe, like my slang?), being an introvert can prove a pretty positive learning experience for both sides. For instance, while abroad in the Whitby, UK, I was mistaken for Canadian by a local couple because their perception of an American was more like a loud pushy Texan.
Within the United States, regional dfferences in the ways people interact are changing now that the economy is forcing Americans to migrate. Someone in Alabama will not greet the same way as someone in Buffalo, NY. Ever heard that cliched complaint “New Yorkers are unfriendly!” Well, somewhat like the Russians, they dont waste time greeting every stranger on the street. It would be kind of hard to do, considering the average pedestrian walks by 30 people a minute (I’m guessing). Try saying “hello” to all of them. It’s much easier to do in a less populated city like Mobile, Alabama. In turn, the New Yorker is freaked out by every Alabaman stranger saying “hi” to them for no reason.
Among all this misunderstanding, introverts get caught in the middle. Having lived in a 3 transplant cities, I’ve heard both sides complain – “They’re not friendly!” , “They’re too nosy!”, “They’re so rude not visitng us!”, “They’re so creepy trying to invite us over!” It sounds contradicting enough to drive you crazy. Don’t allow these comments to be an indicator of your social ability. Saves you the stress and insomnia.
Why save your stress? Well, let’s just say understanding cultural differences alone doesn’t mean the miscommunication ends. What other factors could be left after all that? I’ll explain that in Identifying the Boundaries of Introversion Part 2.
Karla Holland is a Charlotte-based Illustrator pursuing a BFA in Graphic and Web design. She’s earned a first BA in Communication and Media Studies and has used this degree to explore the nature human communication, and its applications. Karla has managed to apply her education to gain employment as a Guest Relations Assistant for Charlotte’s major events venues and serving as editor on a film short for the online biodiversity magazine Izilwane.org, which helped earned the film a spot in the Taos Shortz Festival in Taos, New Mexico.
After her brief stint in media production, Karla decided to return to her childhood passion for sequential art, attending workshops to marry her artisitc talent with her communcation education. In her spare time, Karla contributes daily to her own insight about the world of comics, new media and anything that intrigues her interest on her blog The Gorgon Transplant at thegorgontransplant.wordpress.com. An avid user of social media, her accounts can be found at about.me/KarlaHolland
Photo Credit: Visual Eyes Media by CHC