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Thread: Introverts and Big, Scary Crowded Places

  1. #31
    B-E-H-A-V-E Never More Array Luv Deluxe's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
    7w6 sx/sp


    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    There is a difference between fear of crowds/social situations, and dislike of them. I don't eat anchovies because I dislike them, not because they scare me. True fear of crowds or social interaction goes beyond "normal" introversion into an anxiety condition. Many introverts dislike crowds, etc. but this dislike will not be uniform.

    Note that you disliked more the smaller group requiring personal interaction rather than the huge group, probably requiring minimal interaction. In your description, the large group seems almost more of a natural phenomenon than a collection of individual humans, as if you were describing a hurricane, or a buffalo stampede. I dislike such situations because I prefer to have quiet and lots of physical space, but I (like most introverts) won't let that stop me if an event I want to attend is associated with crowds, like a concert or sporting event. I go in spite of the crowds, though, not because of them. Similarly, my desire for personal interaction is highly dependent on the other person.

    So, bottom line: none of what you wrote disqualifies you from being an introvert. There are many ways to express and experience introversion, as with extraversion.
    Haha! I laughed out loud at the "buffalo stampede" - that's exactly what it looked like. Yeah, I think I felt totally comfortable because of the fact that I didn't have to interact with this giant mass of people in any kind of intimate way. I prefer a lot of physical space, too, but I can somehow...project forward with my mind, think to myself, "It's okay, in five hours you'll be cooling off in your room and then heading to a restaurant for some awesome food." So if there is ever a time that discomfort actually does enter the picture, I can stoically zone out and re-center myself, refocus, and enjoy the moment.

    I think, in my case, liking or disliking a crowd is ultimately linked to the event in question. Had it been a Taylor Swift concert instead of a Stanley Cup parade, I might have felt as intensely horrible as some of you guys have described feeling in any crowd. The people are something of an external, take-it-or-leave-it factor for me; it just so happens that when we all collectively orgasm over a goal, the energy feels pretty damn good.

    After reading the responses here, I still believe I'm an introvert - but that I don't express it to the extreme that some members do.

    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    I agree with you. I wonder too if enneagram stacking makes a difference. I'm so/sx and you are sx first.
    That's a good point. I'm betting that instinctual stacking (and enneatype in general) would probably play a significant role, but it's hard to pin down. I've seen a lot of introverts who also identify as sx-dom, but many say that it manifests mostly in a hunt for a "soul mate" or intense bonding with one other person.

    I think I bond to my interests much in the same way that I'm magnetically pulled toward potential sexual partners, and consequently, my hobbies aren't just hobbies - they're passions. They become intense sources of excitement/happiness. Maybe that's why the crowds don't bug me at all, as long as I'm attending or participating in any event that captivates me.

    Your so-dom stacking probably has a similar effect. I agree, those little breaks after too much direct interaction with others are extremely helpful. At my family reunion, I'd often "sleep in" for a couple of hours...although I was very much awake, just not quite mentally ready to deal with all of those people yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    At least for me it is simple physical overstimulation and more a discomfort than a fear. Nothing sucks the energy out of me like a huge disco or party. The noise! The constant action! I need to walk out for small breaks on a regular basis. Even a crowded shopping street on a busy saturday afternoon can make me slightly nervous, especially when people keep standing in my way or bumping into me. I do not have a problem talking with strangers though, either on the phone or in person, as individuals or in groups, and as a professional interpreter I also often have to speak in front of a larger audience. No problem at all. It is just draining after a while, that's all. Like running a marathon. You don't fear running and might even enjoy it while it lasts, but you need a break afterwards.
    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    That's a good way to put it. It's not the crowds or the people, it is the sheer amount of noise and sights and inputs.
    You guys do sound like descriptions I've read of Highly Sensitive Persons. (Maybe even @cafe, too?)

    I think I might actually be the opposite. I indeed prefer my more meaningful interactions to be one-on-one, that much I'm down with - but I have no issue whatsoever with sensory surplus. Loud noises? Bright, spinning lights? Colors that assault your eyes? I enjoy all of that. I won't experience signs of anxiety or fatigue at all...until direct interaction with other people enters the picture, at which point I will eventually need to withdraw. I can be suave when I need to be, but I do become drained from people. Not music or smells or lights and colors, all of which I actually find awesome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    I like crowds. When I visited New York, walking through Times Square was totally fine - it was actually kinda fun weaving around all the people. The only time I get anxious is when everyone stops and I get the sensation that I'm trapped and can't get out or move around. Similar thing with busses, I get claustrophobic and anxious when everyone is crammed in and there's no escape.

    I am very introverted and moderately socially anxious, and also fairly sensitive to stimuli like loud noises and other distractions.

    edit: I am extremely uncomfortable at large parties or clubs, probably because interaction is both expected and extremely difficult. Walking through crowds is fine because you have a mission and are not expected to talk to anyone.
    The bit about Times Square sounds great! Not the claustrophobic part, though. Whenever I feel that way, as I mentioned above, I'll mentally project myself into another space. Somehow that really seems to help.

    I am, however, not uncomfortable at nightclubs. I love nightclubs. I happen to be a fan of electronica and alcohol, and these places typically offer all the pounding music, pulsing lights, and flowing drinks that one could possibly want. Again - the external sensory stuff stimulates me, doesn't deter me. Is that by itself necessarily a sign of extroversion?

    Quote Originally Posted by greenfairy View Post
    Yeah I can relate to the sensory overload thing. I need to be in peaceful and quiet places to recharge- I just don't have to be alone. I'd be fine with one or two other people in a quiet place. But I think it's actually more natural and healthy to be in environments which are not overstimulating; it's another example of the modern world disconnecting us from what is most harmonious. Some people seem to thrive on stimulation, but it would still be more healthy for them to learn to deal with less of it. Like we are have become addicted to sugar, caffeine, and other stimulants- sensory over-stimulation is another drug.
    This is interesting, especially in juxtaposition to your post about social anxiety potentially impairing your extroversion (if you're an extrovert, not saying you are). You like calm spaces to recharge, but wouldn't mind if there are people in that space with you.

    I feel like I'm the reverse of that. I don't need quiet environments to unwind; the most important factor for me is that I'm absolutely alone. When other people are present, I involuntarily spend energy on gauging their feelings and contentment, and it's ultimately too taxing for relaxation to properly do its work (or happen at all). I really need to be by myself in every sense of the word in order to recharge those batteries.

    As I type this, I'm chilling out in my bedroom, decompressing after an especially stressful workweek. The room is hot, the lights are low, I've got a cold drink. The room itself is obnoxious by nature; I painted one wall an aggressively bright shade of red (my favorite color - I love warm colors). Red soothes me and makes me very happy, but I've also read that simply being in the presence of this color/shade has the same effect on the human brain as a high dose of caffeine. I've also got a movie playing, and sporadically, I'll put that on hold to blast loud, electronic music. This little room is heaven right now, as far as I'm concerned...but it wouldn't be if there were someone else in here with me.

    On a side note, I'm pretty sure that I am addicted to caffeine.

    Maybe this space wouldn't be too bad for you, though? Or maybe it'd drive you crazy. Maybe we're dealing with two different but parallel energy drains - general stimulation and human interaction. Maybe both effect you, whereas mostly just the latter seems to sap my energy over a period of time. It's difficult to say, really.

    I like staying up late at night and I have enough internal resources to keep myself going pretty much regardless of external assistance (my brain doesn't slow down easily - it just comes up with stuff whether I'm trying or not, bubbling over with new ideas like a fountain at a Vegas casino). I guess I like loud, fast-paced, intense things because I want my outer comfort zone to look like how my inner world feels. It's me, splattered all over the walls.

    In any case, I'm sorry that you've had to put up with social anxiety so much. That's not fun at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    I identify with the premise of the thread 100%. Crowds are very upsetting to me and overwhelming. I've never been to a sporting event or rock concert. I tend to avoid shopping as much as possible as well. If I went to a mega-crowd event I would probably have a melt-down. It is almost like I can feel too much electricity in a crowd and can almost feel something like electricity every time a person walks by.

    This is an embarrassing anecdote, but I recently went to a Costco because we heard good things about them and were going to get a membership. The parking lot was full, there was only a door on one side of the building, so it was quite confusing. I went when it was really crowded, everyone had enormous shopping carts, the shelves were two-stories high, and everything looked different than the grocery store where I normally shop. I went through the register with just a couple of things only to find out I couldn't buy anything w/o a membership. I got really shaky all over, went back to my car, and felt like crying. It felt so disorienting and overwhelming. I realize this makes me a bit extreme on the introvert scale, but I already know myself to be that. So yeah, I don't like crowds.

    @AntiheroComplex, could you add a poll to the thread?
    Aw, that makes me sad that you had to deal with that! I hope you don't have experiences like that all the time.

    I could add a poll, but I'm afraid that it might narrow the channel of conversation into a more cut-and-dried sort of, "Are you an introvert who likes crowds, feels indifferent to crowds, or hates them?" I feel like the guts of the topic are broader and more complex, with little questions blossoming off of those central ones, like whether the dislike is only that, or whether it's fear-based, or something else - maybe an individual likes large volumes of people but still gets some kind of anxiety from them. Then we've got the concept of energy loss and this dual, generalized stimuli excess vs. human interaction (or both!) layer on top of that, as well as the question of at what point someone becomes an extrovert.

    Or maybe I'm overthinking this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lexicon View Post
    When it's strangers, there's no implicit expectation that I have to engage others at all. I'm free to pretend they don't exist, if need be (to some extent, at least). I suppose this could apply to my passion for performing, as well, since I'm lost in what I'm doing. The rest of the world melts away. Unless it's friends/peers putting me on the spot to perform- it's too distracting/uncomfortable, plus it makes me feel like a trained monkey. That latter bit's probably got more to do w/intimacy issues, though.

    In random crowds I can lurk in the shadows/corners & peoplewatch without seeming noticeably creepy, since there's so much happening, if I feel so inclined. Most of the time, if I'm in a crowd it's because there's something really cool happening (I'm at an amusement park, or a small cramped show venue to see bands I like, or I'm on a trip wandering a city). I almost don't notice the people around, in a way. Sensortard thing, I figure. Or maybe the Fe turns down to tune in to the fun/thrilling Se crap. Or it has nothing to do w/functions & I'm speculating for the hell of it.
    Yes! All of this - totally relatable.

    Quote Originally Posted by fia View Post
    For the introverts who like or love crowds, do they energize you, or do you have specific limits on how much you can deal with? If they typically energize you, what is it that makes you identify as an introvert instead of extrovert? I think even extroverts tend to like some alone time, but too much drains them quickly and ultimately their source of inner charge comes from external stimulation.
    Whether or not I can be energized by a crowd depends on the circumstances. Even then, I guess I'm not entirely sure if I'm energized by the crowd or the actual event in and of itself. When I'm taking in a game for recreation and somebody scores a goal, I'll react to the goal...but the shared celebration is fun too (the cheering and screaming, the goal song, etc.). It's really exciting.

    Also, when I'm seeing my favorite band play live, and every fan in the venue begs in unison for an encore...that's also weirdly thrilling.

    However, my crowd spirit only goes as far as my passion for/interest in the event does (and how much I've had to drink). I can't stay there indefinitely. Once all of the excitement is over, it's always soothing to return to a room where I can stretch out and breathe properly again. As has already been said several times, too, it's way less stressful for me to be around a mass of people that aren't demanding direct communication with me. If I were surrounded by chatty friends or family, or if the fans in the above situations started talking to me too much, my energy levels would sink much more quickly.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I love loud music & bright lights & colors, but it has to be within the parameters of my taste or it can annoy me. It can be as if suddenly all the color & excitement of my inner world has finally come to life, and I enjoy the hyper-real, almost surreal feeling of it all.
    Yes! Yes, yes, yes.

    Thanks, everyone, for your varied responses. This was very interesting to read!
    Ni > Se > Fe > Ti
    7w6 (counterphobin')
    Sx > Sp
    Chaotic Good

  2. #32
    scourge Array miss fortune's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    827 sp/so
    SLE Ti


    I feel lucky to have an on/off switch when it comes to being outgoing and pleasant when necessary... then I return to my baseline, which is pretty content to sit off to the edge and avoid the hubbub. This is probably pretty confusing to anyone who's met me when I've flipped it on because I can seemingly be quite extroverted if the situation calls for it

    However, I'm absolutely terrified of crowds... they make my skin crawl. To have that many people in close quarters with me and touching me and jostling me... I don't feel like I have any control over my fate anymore... like I'm just getting dragged along with no choice. I do NOT like to be touched by strangers or even acquaintances and I have a pretty big personal bubble as far as where people are allowed to come in proximity to me and crowds don't care.

    I also hate loud noises because I can't think with them yammering away in my ears... it's discombobulating I guess... that's really the only word that I can think of that describes it

    If at a party, you can find me sitting on the edge of the porch... it's actually how I got started on smoking. At a concert you can find me sitting in the exact middle of our blanket and trying to avoid physical contact with strangers... and as a note, it has to be a pretty good band or individual to tempt me to attend. I do most of my non-food shopping online to avoid crowds as well, including all Christmas shopping.

    I found it to be a huge reduction of stress to switch from a job where I was constantly surrounded by people to a job where I'm mostly on my own with occasional interactions with a person or two and those interactions are pretty fun, because you don't know when they'll occur and they aren't required. Family events are a bit overwhelming most of the time though because they all talk at the same time and I have no clue who most of the people they're talking about even are, however, I feel awkward if I don't contribute something, so I usually change the subject.

    Overall, I kind of suspect that I'm quite possibly an introvert who's learned to extrovert pretty well... I can do an impressive job at it, but it's not comfortable and at the end of the day I'll be stressed out.
    Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to invent boredom? -Terry Pratchett

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