There’s not much that annoys me more than people (read: extroverts) completely misunderstanding my introversion. I’m used to getting strange looks when I tell people I’m not lonely when I spend all day home alone, or that my ideal weekend involves me, a book, and maybe a movie or two. But when I’m compared to a murderer, that’s where I draw the line.
Let me explain.
After the Sandy Hook shooting, all kinds of reports came out about the guy who did it. He spent a lot of time alone in his basement. He didn’t have very many close friends. He was socially awkward. As if those findings revealed that he was, indeed, a psycho. Because, apparently, normal people don’t spend their lives like that according to the media.
Those assumptions I could sort of brush off. It’s not like people thinking I’m different is a new concept to me. But what really bothered me was when my friends and family starting looking at me in a different light. My parents flat-out told me they were worried that I was planning something horrible because they couldn’t understand what I was doing all day by myself (Clearly they don’t understand the joy of internet fandoms and Socially Awkward Penguin memes).
I think that incident (in a horrible, tragic way) brought out many people’s true feelings towards introverts. It spurred the big gun control debate, and it made me wonder what people who knew me would think if I decided I wanted to buy a gun. I wonder if their first thought was that I was planning something awful. I imagined “introversion” being listed alongside “convicted felon” and “serious mental health issues” as reasons a person can’t purchase a firearm.
It also, I think, highlighted the bias towards outgoing extroverts that society seems to have. What would people say about a murderer who was popular in school, had dozens of friends, and spent their weekends socializing at parties? Probably that their behavior was completely unexpected. But if a person is quiet and a bit of a loner, would it be less surprising to people? Unfortunately, I think so.