Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rise of the Introverts

            This may surprise some and be obvious to others, but I don’t like socializing with people. In my free time, I like to be as far away from social contact as possible. If I was given the choice between a night alone with iTunes and homework or a party (and I have been given that choice before; I’m at a certified party school) it would be no contest. I would be found still up at 2 in the morning on a Friday finishing some homework or other and not having said a word in hours. That’s just how I seem to be wired.
            I’m not one wont to lean heavily on personal stories to convey a point in my essays, but I feel like I must here. The University of Texas (my school) has over 51,000 registered students and 1,100 student organizations, and every one of those organizations is vying for as many members as possible. Big clubs look great on resumes, etc. In order to get a large membership, or, in the case of the various religious institutions surrounding campus, keep students involved with that specific institution, a plethora of social events are held.
            I abhor social events. Personally, I don’t understand them. If I enjoyed someone’s company enough to want it in my free time, I wouldn’t need an organized event as an excuse to hang out with him or her. This is the premise of A Christian Against Christmas. And if the point of the social event is to get acquainted with others who have the same interests or talents, wouldn’t I meet them at work, or class, or a cultural concert (if it’s a cultural club), or a political rally (if it’s a political group), or at a service (if it’s a religious club or institution)? No one joins a club or a church to socialize. At least, in my opinion, the right reason to join an organization is never to socialize. So why do groups set up social events?
            The majority of Americans are social people, 50-74% according to the first study that came up with a Google search. People of importance that would fall into this category are: three fifths of the QBA writers, my roommate, and my girlfriend. Okay, people of importance to me; you might not know them. Anyway, because the majority of people are social, or extroverted, to start using the smart-person terminology, it behooves groups to be social on the surface. Many people, especially my contemporary college students, will advocate any cause if they can do so in a crowd of talkative peers with light refreshments.
            I, and my fellow introverts, join clubs based purely on alignment of the clubs’ ideals and our own, go to religious institutions for the service and the food, and are frankly sick and tired of a thousand people making small-talk for no reason. We understand the need for interaction, of course. (Susan Cain actually has a wonderful TED Talk on introverts in the work place and in general.) Some introverts are less social than I – yes, that’s possible. To be honest, I'm probably an ambivert since I have periods of desiring stimulation and periods of ignoring everyone  – so I can’t assume that they all would react like I will, but I will happily work in a large group; I was very active in marching band in high school. And I have no problem with crowds and can hold amiable conversation when necessary. I’d just love for it to be acceptable to eat in peace and not to have every staff member of every organization I’ve been to an event for think I was lost and depressed since I wasn’t talking with anyone.
            Another fun personal fact: When I was a kid, my dad tried to entice me to go to a block/pool party by having the cutest girl at the party knock on our door and invite me. I went to the party long enough to tell my dad that he should either tell me I was required to be there or for him to leave me alone and then went back to my computer games. I was one awesome jerk of a kid.

-Jason Rossiter

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