Thursday, May 31, 2007

Introvert or Asshole?

What differentiates an introvert from an asshole?

I ask this not to be sarcastic, but because I don't think I know anymore. I've always considered myself a pretty hard introvert, using that to excuse how draining I find interaction with others, my sometimes short temper, my occasional impatience with kids, and other such anti-social tendencies. But then today it occurred to me that this kind of behavior is virtually indistinguishable from your ordinary, run-of-the-mill asshole. If we didn't have a fancy term like "introvert" (or "INFP" if you like your fanciness Meyers-Briggs style), I'd probably just be written off as a cantankerous, crusty old jerk. Mothers would hustle their children away from me, neighbors would be stiffly polite while searching for the nearest exit point, and I'd never interact with anyone.

Hey, wait -- that's how things are NOW. See? Introvert, asshole, there doesn't seem to be much distance between those concepts at this point. I'm worried that as time goes on I'm going to end up sitting in a cave up on a mountain, shunned by all decent humans, shaking my fist and yelling "You kids get the hell off my hill!" as the goats gambol by.


sph said...

I find as LIFE/age progresses, if there isn't a little bit of "jerk" in a person I don't get along with them very well. Offending a jerk is less difficult to live with than being really nice to a "civilized" person.

Interesting musings for the day before birth, don't you think?

Allen said...

A long time ago the company I worked for made all of its employees take a workshop wherein everyone took a personality test. It wasn't Meyers-Briggs (at least, I don't think it was) but I was labeled as "Driving Amiable."

Driver and Amiable are polar opposites in whatever scale they used so, for the remainder of the session after we had received our scores, they put me in a corner to see if I would self-destruct or burst into flames.

As for introvert being the same as asshole, I'm not so sure. Most of the assholes I have encountered were behaving in an extroverted way -- The asshole kids on your hill, for instance. :-)

Wishing to be LEFT alone does not necessarily make one an asshole. Not letting someone else BE alone is most definitely asshole behavior IMHO.

Anonymous said...

You can still be an introvert and remain totally involved in life, Jeff. An asshole could care less about life and the results of their insults and indifference on the rest of mankind. I would never, ever put you in that category. I've worked for an asshole, been an asshole and have lived with assholes. I've also done the same with introverts. The difference is how they reconcile the results of their actions. From your actions, I'd say you're an introvert who enjoys interacting with people but also enjoys observing and analyzing behavior to see how it stacks up against the humanity scale. Assholes could care less. That, dear bro, is not you. -- Denise