I will never understand extroverts. How one could possibly get fulfillment from talking to other people and being socially engaged is something that is utterly beyond me. Nonetheless I find myself surrounded by these people. Whether it’s a teacher I pretend to like just because I try to be courteous that way or family members who just don’t know any better, it’s utterly confounding to me why I can’t simply be left alone. It’s almost as if my solitude makes them angry. They just can’t take it. They constantly wonder why I’m reading or why I wouldn’t want to go out and talk up the neighborhood. The very idea of my happiness not being directly linked to the world around me is such a foreign concept to these people that they tell me it annoys them to no end. I’m not sure how someone else’s personal behavior – especially when it has nothing to do with you – can be annoying, but they tell me that it is and I always remind myself that this is a subject that they would have no reason to lie about.
I have a friend who feels the need to talk about me when we’re in a group of people like I’m not there. I don’t know if I wear some sort of invisibility cloak when I’m around him or maybe only a sometimes-invisibility cloak of some kind, but when he’s talking to someone else and I’m standing right in front of him he talks about me as if I’m not standing right there. I don’t pretend to understand why he does this, he probably doesn’t even notice – or care for that matter – but for the individual being talked about, seemingly without their consent, it is more annoying than one could believe. It starts casually, as most seemingly innocent acts do, but then it evolves into a full-on assault of third-person told in the second-person narrative that would irritate even the most casual reader or listener for that matter. I don’t know how this can possibly be a comfortable situation for either person involved in the conversation, but it is utterly disorienting for the person being talked about. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is because I can’t get past the fact that he continues to talk about me like I’m not there.
All of this is made all the more difficult by the fact that I’m always asked to back up the beliefs that the friend in question brings forth and always seems to insist that I also – even against my vehement protestations – hold. I don’t know how many times you have to say ‘no’ to an extrovert before it becomes binding, but one imagines that even rapists would back off before an extrovert would. The worst part about finding yourself in a conversation with an extrovert is that they will make you a part of the conversation to such an extent that it makes leaving out of pure embarrassment not only seem uncivil, but downright rude. If you’re like me though you simply don’t care because the extrovert has made your life so miserable that even the bar does not provide sufficient respite against his encroachments. There is no point in trying to talk to the extrovert about the fact that their actions bother you because they will either feign ignorance or argue that it is you who has the problem. After all, how can someone not enjoy wasting hours of their life interacting with people? This will seem like a legitimate question to part of my audience, I have no doubt about that, but from the introvert’s point of view you have to understand that we look at the world with a much different view than that which you perpetually espouse to the point of nausea on our parts.
I live my life based on a simple model; it’s called the lowest possible interaction model. I look at life as a series of never-ending feuds. You can engage in them and let them define your day, your week, heck even your year or worse – your life. However I choose not to let the petty everyday problems of other people become my problems. This isn’t because I lack compassion; I genuinely do care about people, just not in the same way that extroverts care about people. What this means is that I genuinely don’t care about your problems, despite how much you may think I should, and yes, I know this bothers you, but I simply don’t care. Your problems should never become my problems just as my problems should never become your problems. This may seem harsh, but my days are defined by how much or how little time of mine you wind up wasting. So, it may seem like a great idea to go on about whatever is bothering you, it does not seem this way to me and believe it or not this is not a minority viewpoint among the population. Most people don’t care about your problems because really: why should they?
All of this gets me back to my friend who engages in conversations bringing me into them for his own enjoyment or perhaps because he thinks that this is something that I will enjoy or benefit from. Understand that I will never view it this way and it will always upset me when you do this. Making me a part of your conversation is not helpful to me and though I may smile and pretend that this genuinely was a brilliant idea on your part, know that I am, deep down, incredibly angry that I have to interact with whoever it is you’ve set me up with in your bizarre conversational puzzle that you’ve put together with seemingly no point visible even in retrospect. What irritates me more than anything though is that throughout the conversation I will be treated as if I’m not really there. You’ll talk about me, perhaps even engage me in the conversation in an abstract way – meaning you’ll talk for me, which believe it or not, absolutely no one enjoys – and I will stand there with a smile on my face thinking of ways to toss you down a flight of stairs or in front of a passing car. Friends don’t let friends talk about them when they are standing right in front of them. At least that’s how it should be.