I am an Extrovert. Wow – that was a shocker, huh? I’m not sure if everyone is as big of a personality test junkie as me, but taking and evaluating personality assessments is kind of a fun past time for me. I’ve pretty much taken them all – DiSC, Strengths Finder, MBTI, etc. While all of them have varying degrees of useful information, I most identify and find insight into how I approach life and situations through the MBTI assessment. MBTI (or the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator) evaluates behavioral preferences and categorizes individuals into 16 types. Below is a brief description of the assessment from the official website (I’ve also included a link in case you want to geek out a bit more)
Excerpted with permission from the MBTI® Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®
Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
Your Personality Type: When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type, which can be expressed as a code with four letters.
So in a nutshell, you take this assessment and through your answers, you are categorized into one of 16 possible personality type descriptors. I am an ESTJ, in case you were curious.
We could go down an immense and twisting rabbit hole of what all the different types mean, how they manifest in behavior and who gets along with who; but we won’t. Today I simply want to deal with E vs I element of the MBTI test. (Beware this is a bit of a rant).
As I mentioned, I am an Extrovert. This basically means I derive energy from interacting with the outside world. As opposed to the Introvert who derives energy from more inwardly focused pursuits. This description sound innocuous enough. Some people thrive with others, while others thrive more alone. PotAto/Potaaato. Everyone is different, right? All fine and dandy. Unless, you happen to be an Extrovert in a world where that quality is becoming synonymous with something negative. I have noticed in the last 5-7 years a move in popular culture, literature, podcasts, news outlets, etc. towards the glorification of the Introvert and the demonizing of the Extrovert. It is becoming a “thing” to look down on those who are outwardly focused and to praise the inwardly focused.
I will attempt to give examples:
Type into your Google search engine – “Introverts are Great” – and you will get the following hits…
Are Introverts the Best Listeners?
5 Reasons Why Introverts Are Awesome
10 Reasons Why Introverts Are Incredibly Attractive
Why Introverts are Great Friends
The list is endless.
Type the same phrase in (changing the Introvert to Extrovert) and the results are shocking…
Why Extroverts Are So Needy
Why it might be best if your boss is an Introvert
A couple of links about Extroverts in history – this list has some people YOU don’t want to emulate.
And SEVERAL comparison articles of Extroverts vs. Introverts.
One of the ONLY positive articles attempts to “buck up” the very sad Extrovert by listing reasons it is “ok” to be an Extrovert.
Where is my link about how fantastic being an Extrovert is and why we rock!?! I’m telling you, it does not exist. I’m starting to get a complex. These links are NOTHING compared to the bashing the Extrovert is getting on social media. If I had a nickle for every click bait link on Facebook about the righteousness of the Introvert – well I’d have more money in my pocket than I do right now (and why DON’T you get a nickle every time you succumb to those tempting articles? I think we should get paid for reading some of that drivel, but I digress).
I have lost count of the conversations I have been in where a sad little eye roll and patronizing nod has been sent my way when I express the Extroverted side of my personality. Like, “oh how sad for you that you are so shallow that you need people to give you energy! We Introverts are so much more deep and personally aware because we are inwardly focused. ”
I’m not sure when this competition between the E and I started or why, but I do have a theory about what has perpetuated it – the Internet. As a society we are becoming much more divided and isolated. We have hundreds of “friends” and “followers” through social media, but the act of personal, face to face engagement is less and less. This trend does play more into the Introvert’s strengths. It does provide a more easily navigated means of social interaction for those who do not derive energy from being among others. And that is not at all a bad thing. Unless you are an Extrovert. For the Extrovert, the lack of personal interaction drains our energy, which (I hypothesize) causes us to be more “expressive” in what interactions we CAN achieve – I present Twitter as exhibit A.
All I know is this, the intention of the MBTI was never to demonize one personality over another – it was simply to bring clarity to how we may better interact with each other. In other words, we all live on this planet and we all at one point or another need to actually speak to each other – so let’s find out how to best do that while acknowledging the differences between us – and not only acknowledge them but celebrate them.
On the flip side of this, however, perhaps the Introverted side of the spectrum has finally found a voice – perhaps they have felt over shadowed by their more “outgoing” counterparts and are using the emergence of silo-ed social media to express their own feelings of being unheard. I do not know.
I guess what I’m saying is I’m an Extrovert and that is ok. You may be an Introvert and that too is ok. Neither is better. Neither is worse. Like having blue eyes or brown. As Popeye said “I yam what I yam.”
There really is no point to this diatribe on the injustice of personality type shaming – I just felt over the last few weeks the overwhelming desire to stick up for my Extroverted brothers and sisters. Maybe because I haven’t had a lot of social interaction out here in the woods. Maybe because I needed to hear (or read) something from a different point of view. Maybe I just needed some Stewart Smalley affirmation – I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it people like me!
To be honest, I think we focus too much on the E and I of the world – the MBTI is actually a lot more useful in the other parts of the grid – i.e. the J vs the P is a much more prevalent source of conflict in human interactions – but I will spare you my pontifications on that particular quandary. Suffice it to say – people are complicated and that is ok.
And apparently I need to go to more parties.
And with that – rant ended.
See ya soon!