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The Lantern

Filed under Editorial/Opinion

A person’s a person, no matter how loud

personalities often determine study prefernces

personalities often determine study prefernces

paige Holt

paige Holt

personalities often determine study prefernces

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“On the 15th of May, in the Jungle of Nool, In the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool, Horton the elephant heard a small noise.“That’s funny,” thought Horton. “There’s no one around.” Then he heard it again! Just a very faint yelp as if some tiny person were calling for help.”

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was the author of 46 children’s books, including Horton Hears a Who. One may assume Seuss was outgoing, boisterous, and cheerful– an extrovert.  However, those who knew him personally were aware that Dr. Seuss was an introvert. In fact, he was apprehensive of meeting his young readers, for fear of disappointing them, as he knew they expected someone who resembled the merry characters of his books. Introversion involves being more comfortable alone, and more absorbed in one’s own thoughts. Today, society supports the Extrovert Ideal, and values extroverts more than introverts.  Susan Cain coined the term in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Reserved individuals are just as influential as those who are outgoing, and it is crucial we realize this. To understand the importance of eradicating the Extrovert Ideal, we need to examine it, delve into the dangers of supporting it, and raise our voices to resist it.

Introverts are often labeled “shy”, which has a negative connotation in today’s society”

— Rianne Lund

Just as the animals in the Jungle of Nool discriminate against the small Who’s, society discriminates against the quiet introverts. People assume that being withdrawn is a choice, and that it is a negative quality.  Laurie Helgoe, PhD, in the book “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength”, emphasizes the fact that introversion is only harmful if social phobia and anxiety are involved. A stereotype saying introverts dislike human interaction has formed, but relationship coach Jordan Gray, in the article Dating Advice for Introverts, points out that introverts often have a stronger desire for intimacy than extroverts do.  Introverts are often labeled “shy”, which has a negative connotation in today’s society. The two qualities are often confused. Shyness associates more with fearing social judgment, while introverts just prefer quieter environments, as illustrated by Louis A. Schmidt,  professor for the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University. As a result of the Extrovert Ideal, introverts are not getting the recognition they deserve.

Because of the favoritism, introverts are at a disadvantage in education. Unlike Horton, they might not feel the need to share what they think, or don’t feel comfortable enough to do so. Participation grades are just one example of the Extrovert Ideal. A Washington Post article, entitled “Why Introverts Shouldn’t be Forced to Talk in Class”, published on February 12th, 2013, points out that participation is commonly defined by teachers as verbal responses that follow guidelines that have been established. Group work is also common in classrooms, and it further promotes the Extrovert Ideal. Most introverts prefer working by themselves. A softspoken group member won’t get the chance to share their ideas, as the other members are often overconfident in their own. Researchers at the University of Colorado and the University of Connecticut explain that inhibitive behaviors don’t affect language acquisition, but rather how it is expressed.

The Extrovert Ideal doesn’t stop at education. It includes the business world. A Meyers-Briggs test conducted shows a little over half of Americans are introverts, according to the Forbes article “Introverts No Longer the Quiet Followers of Extroverts”, published on August 22nd, 2012. Even though introverts aren’t rare, businesses continue to benefit the extrovert and allow for more communication. Cubicles are fast disappearing and wide open areas are becoming more common. While this is great for an extrovert, introverts can’t concentrate. The noise of the other employees might seem similar to the racket the Who’s were making in order to be heard. To be productive, they need their own space.  If workers are less productive, the whole organization is less efficient. The business world is competitive, and companies need to run as smoothly as possible in order to succeed.

Introverts should not have to chant We are here! We are here!”

— Rianne Lund

Everyone worked together in Whoville and along with Horton’s dedication, they were saved because of it. If everyone in society works together, we can stop undervaluing introverts. If we treat the two equally, there will be huge benefits, as proved by history. According to Cain, cited previously, when reserved individuals were allowed to be themselves, the world was rewarded with the theory of gravity, discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, Peter Pan, Google, and Harry Potter, among many others. Although society can’t and won’t change in a day, taking small steps will lead to achieving the ultimate goal– eliminating the Extrovert Ideal. Participation grades could be easily eliminated and the choice to either work in groups or individually needs to be made available. Employers have responsibilities, as well. Big, open, office spaces could be adjacent to cubicles. Group leadership also needs to be rethought. In 2012 Harvard and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton school conducted research showing introverts are more successful leading proactive workers, because they will listen to other’s ideas, and there won’t be a power struggle. Classrooms and businesses need to be reworked to support more than one type of personality. Although we may not realize it, the Extrovert Ideal affects us nearly everywhere and everyday. Whoville’s mayor proclaimed “Every voice counts!”, showing that if just one person gave an introvert due credit, it will make a difference.  He was right, and as Horton points out, the Who’s “whole world was saved by the smallest of all!”

“Horton chased after that black-bottomed bird, over stones that tattered his toenails and battered his bones, and he begged, “Please don’t harm all my little folks, who have just as much right to live as us bigger folks do!”

Our dedication to seeing introverts as equal needs to be as great as Horton’s was to saving the Who’s. Although the Extrovert Ideal is present nearly everywhere, small steps will eventually lead to equality. Introverts should not have to chant We are here! We are here! Extroverts seemingly drown out the soft introverts, and as Dr. Seuss would say, boil them in beezle nut oil. Introverts need to be proud of who they are, not ashamed. However, it is hard to be proud of who they are when everyone else around them is praising the opposite. Society need to realize that a person’s a person, no matter how loud.

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A person’s a person, no matter how loud