There’s No Such Thing As An Introverted Extrovert
Sooner or later, an older, attached person will come along and try to make a project of fixing your life/relationship status. This person can be a friend, a co-worker or even your boss, but their methods seldom differ.
In 2018, the answer is always Tinder, a platform that combines the instant gratification of Fruit Ninja with the emotional depth of Fruit Ninja.
Straight, gay or furry, true love is forever one swipe away.
Yet I admit that I do enjoy reading Tinder bios. These autobiographical epithets pique my curiosity, and one in particular has led me to do some serious thinking — The Introverted Extrovert.
The first time I saw the term, I lol’d, thinking it was some poorly-conceived cry for attention. However, its omnipresence soon dawned on me as a quarter of the profiles labelled themselves either ‘introverted extrovert’ or ‘extroverted introvert’. After a while, I realised that even my Facebook friends were happily sharing videos about their self-diagnosed ambiversion.
So what on earth is an introverted extrovert?
A quick google search will tell you everything and yet nothing. There is no scientific case for introverted extroversion (henceforth known as Inex), but Inex-themed listicles are everywhere.
Once Buzzfeed has diagnosed you with the 19 Signs of Inex, you can go forth to ponder the Thoughtcatalog’s 10 Everyday Things that only you and your clan will understand or share 5 REAL-LIFE examples of your condition. (lest that someone should mistake your sociability for brash extraversion)
According to clickbait psychology, the characteristics of Inex are as follows: You can be outgoing, yet desperately need your alone time. You can’t be one or the other. You love socialising, but also chilling at home. You are relied on to be the outgoing one of the group, but you require time to recharge. You can ‘open’ up, but remain secretive and vulnerable. You hate responding to texts but you love talking one-to-one, unless it’s on the phone, in which case you prefer to be alone but will make an exception if it’s your bff.
In other words, you are just an ordinary person.
In reality, even the most cocaine-dusted extrovert requires down time and few introverts are so reclusive that they turn to stone at a party like The Hobbit’s sun-burned trolls.
The only reason these ‘signs’ resonate is because of Buzzfeed’s second-person, bae’s here writing style. The constant use of ‘You, you, you’ makes even the most mundane sentiment seem relatable. If you remove the gifs and the delivery, it is like removing the laugh track from The Big Bang Theory. These supposed ‘signs’ go from insightful to meaningless in 2 seconds flat:
1.You enjoy talking, but you hate talking on the phone.
2.Thomas enjoys conversation, but he prefers talking face-to-face
Combined together, these ‘truths’ form a pointless platitude amounting to ‘I do not like making small-talk to strangers 24/7. Also, friends are cool’. Hardly a controversial sentiment.
However, popular descriptions of Inex are not just meaningless, they also contradict the more established psychological theories about introversion-extraversion. According to a Scientific American lecture, most of the popular metrics for identifying Inex have little correlation with psychologists’ understanding of the subject.
Take for example, this ‘sign’: ‘You are one of the most outspoken people in your group, but around new people, you tend to be incredibly shy’. This statement seems intuitive, but it is not. Strange as it sounds, there seems to be no consensus on which Big 5 personality dimension your shyness falls under.
Some studies claim that ‘shyness’ is a result of introversion, but others, like Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, will insist that how shy you are is determined by your neuroticism.
Furthermore, even if you accept the school of thought that categorises ‘shyness’ under the introversion-extraversion scale, it still doesn’t make sense. Introversion/extraversion are not discrete categories, but a continuous spectrum. Few people are total extroverts or total introverts and the majority of people display traits of both, depending on the social context.
Hence, calling yourself an introverted extrovert is like crowning yourself ‘Ms. Normal and Average 2018’.
The world is a bloody confusing place, to say the least. Most people feel some degree of anxiety about their place in the scheme of things or whether they ‘fit in’. As a result, everyone is constantly searching for an identity that can never really be ‘found’.
This sense of dislocation is only worsened by social media, which constantly reminds you that you could be having more fun, making more friends, and going to cooler parties.
Personality tests like that of the “Introverted Extrovert” serve as antidote to this sense of insecurity. They’re the H&M of self-actualisation, offering you an off-the-shelf identity. They tell you that you are special, that you belong to a select caste of people with a important role to play. Borrowing from the authority of academic psychology, the pop psychology purveyors reassure you that your foibles, mistakes, and ineptitudes are not flaws, but parts of God’s special plan.
You are not socially awkward, you’re an Introverted Extrovert.
You are not a noisy airhead, you’re an Extroverted Introvert.
Did you know that Gandhi was an Introverted Extrovert? It’s true, and so was Barack Obama!
At the end of the day, a noble lie invented to make you feel better about yourself is still a lie. You are not an Introverted Extrovert or vice versa, you are just a loud, people-hating fuckup who sometimes likes a quiet coffee with your friend.
And that’s perfectly alright.