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  1. #1
    Step into my office. Luv Deluxe's Avatar
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    Default Introverts and Big, Scary Crowded Places

    So...I just read another article describing introverts as people who will predictably avoid crowds, noise, and chaotic overloads of stimulation (whereas their extroverted counterparts are always said to seek out such environments). The author of this article used situational venues to illustrate his point, claiming that introverts wouldn't be likely to attend sporting events and rock concerts with much frequency, while extreme extroverts are season ticket holders.

    I'm sure there's some truth in that, but I don't think it's a complete picture. I think one's interests are mostly independent of the tendencies to be introverted or extroverted, and consequently, you could have an extrovert who enjoys reading poetry in a coffee shop and an introvert who enjoys going to football games.

    Frequently, I read things that kinda paint introverts as these nervous, incapable, crowd-fearing people who need to recharge their batteries every single time they leave their homes. Even the articles that attempt to give a more in-depth definition of what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert seem to fuck it up somehow, and I'm almost always left with this bad picture of agoraphobic homebodies who just can't wait to curl up into the fetal position for six hours because they had to buy groceries that day.

    I'm exaggerating and ranting a little, but does anyone else get that impression?

    To the guts of where I'm going: I'm constantly around sports venues all the time, for work and for recreation. This means being surrounded by large throngs of people, often. It doesn't bother me at all. When I'm working, I'm doing exactly that - the people are present, but I don't have to interact with them (it's like having the anonymity of a big city versus the invasive nosiness of a small town). When I'm at an event for fun, I get caught up in the noise and the excitement and I love it - this mass of people just bonds with itself over a common interest, and I don't have to use any energy at all to make that happen. Wearing a team jersey? Okay, cool, high five and here's a beer. Boom. Done.

    I took this picture about a month ago...



    ...and I honestly felt comfortable. The crowd grew so much bigger, too; by the time I got to my final position at Hutchinson Field, I turned around and saw what had to be a million people at my back. It was an awesome day, and I got lots of awesome pictures.

    For contrast: afterward, I traveled to the west coast for a family reunion (an obviously much smaller get-together, maybe twenty or twenty-five people). However, I was expected to directly interact with all of these people for seven days. Suddenly, all the noise and all the business and all the meddling and friendly questioning and nagging and everything just grated on me like nobody's business. I love my family, but definitely prefer them in smaller groups, for much shorter periods of time.

    Basically, by the time I flew back and was making my connection in Denver, I felt an immense sense of relief at being alone - even though I was still in a busy airport.

    I think fearing large crowds might be more related to social anxiety, which is not at all the same as introversion...and maybe feeling uncomfortable might simply be a sign of one who is a "Highly Sensitive Person," which wouldn't necessarily have to be synonymous with introversion, either.

    So. Are crowds really introvert repellent? Or is it the task of social interaction, and then to what degree? Are the stereotypes really just stereotypes?

    Or am I not an introvert? Am I an ambivert or full-blown extrovert? I don't think so, but I'm open to your theories. On that note, how do you guys feel when you're around tons of people - where's your threshold for energy loss, and what causes it (communication with others or stimulation in general)?

    Apologies for the enormous post...I, uh, seem to always have too much to write about whenever I actually decide to say anything.
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  2. #2
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntiheroComplex View Post
    I think fearing large crowds might be more related to social anxiety, which is not at all the same as introversion...and maybe feeling uncomfortable might simply be a sign of one who is a "Highly Sensitive Person," which wouldn't necessarily have to be synonymous with introversion, either.

    So. Are crowds really introvert repellent? Or is it the task of social interaction, and then to what degree? Are the stereotypes really just stereotypes?

    Or am I not an introvert? Am I an ambivert or full-blown extrovert? I don't think so, but I'm open to your theories. On that note, how do you guys feel when you're around tons of people - where's your threshold for energy loss, and what causes it (communication with others or stimulation in general)?
    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.
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  3. #3
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    I don't mind crowds at all. I enjoy people watching and often like the events involved. I also don't mind a gathering like you mentioned. However, I do like people who don't talk mindlessly about stuff, but still require a constant stream of yeah, and uh huhs (some women are especially bad for this). That I find draining. Also I do find even when we have company, ducking away for 5 or 10 minutes here and there is nice sometimes. It doesn't have to be big stretches of time, but a little mental break for a minute or two just helps after a whole lot of visiting in a group. Lol at "agoraphobic homebodies". I agree with you. I wonder too if enneagram stacking makes a difference. I'm so/sx and you are sx first.

  4. #4
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Crowds make me nervous. Some things are worth it, though. Like a Weird Al concert or a good protest. I'm hoping when I get a chance to go to some kind of geek con I'll feel the same way.

    I am kind of the introverted stereotype you describe, though. I like to be at home, not in the fetal position, but reading or puttering around the house. If I'm out running around a lot or have to do a lot of social stuff, it does make me physically tired and I may need more sleep than usual for a couple of days. I don't like loud stuff as a general rule, either or unpredictably behaving people.

    But I am by no means the picture of perfect mental health or a neurosis-free human being.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
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  5. #5
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AntiheroComplex View Post
    Frequently, I read things that kinda paint introverts as these nervous, incapable, crowd-fearing people who need to recharge their batteries every single time they leave their homes. Even the articles that attempt to give a more in-depth definition of what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert seem to fuck it up somehow, and I'm almost always left with this bad picture of agoraphobic homebodies who just can't wait to curl up into the fetal position for six hours because they had to buy groceries that day.

    ...

    I think fearing large crowds might be more related to social anxiety, which is not at all the same as introversion...and maybe feeling uncomfortable might simply be a sign of one who is a "Highly Sensitive Person," which wouldn't necessarily have to be synonymous with introversion, either.
    First of all, the above description is less far off for me than I like to admit, but then again I do have clear HSP tendencies.

    Secondly, I agree with @Coriolis, the discomfort in crowds is not a social anxiety thing. 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.

    I also understand how being surrounded by an anonymous crowd does not count as a social situation (which is why I chalk the exhaustion up to general overstimulation and parties where you are supposed to interact with numerous strangers are the worst because they are both socially demanding and physically oversrtimulating).

    I strongly prefer small groups of under ten people. One on one is still where I perform best and feel most comfortable. But even in our INTP on INTP relationship of introverts my boyfriend and I need short time-outs to recharge.


    Also, especiall now in the summer, I have noticed that I do get more sensitive to all sorts of input (noise, heat, bright light, etc.) as soon as my crowd batteries are getting weaker. I don't mind them that much when they are freshly recharged, but a few hours surrounded by noisy, chatty people moving about everywhere and I'll get more easily upset by simple things like the sound of a stopping streetcar (metal on metal) or physical discomfort like a sunburn.

    It's not instant, only after a few hours or so of uninterrupted overstimulation.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Ugh. Yeah, we call it "sensory overload" at my house.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    Ugh. Yeah, we call it "sensory overload" at my house.
    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.

    The way I learned to cope was to bring ear plugs to places I know are going to be loud, and practicing ignoring things that are far away.

    I still have trouble paying attention to the person I am talking to when there is a lot of other stuff going on in my immediate vicinity. Apparently, this makes me "shifty eyed."

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  8. #8
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    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.
    -end of thread-

  9. #9
    philosopher wood nymph greenfairy's Avatar
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    I dislike crowded places because I am sensitive to people's energy and in a crowd I am exposed to a lot of people without the chance to feel them out and decide who I'm comfortable around. It makes me nervous that I don't know who I can trust and who I would prefer to avoid. That's the main reason. Also they tend to be loud, and I am incapable of talking loud enough to be heard. A dance club is fine if the music isn't too loud and I have people to dance with instead of having random sweaty guys all up in my business.

    Other than that I am pretty much fine with them. I like the energy of a crowd for a short time.

    I also am socially anxious. I very much enjoy interacting with people, even strangers, but I can get very nervous even one on one. I agree though, it is important to distinguish social anxiety from introversion. That's one reason I've wondered if I may actually be almost an extrovert in my true nature; I wouldn't really know unless I got over all my anxiety. I'm pretty sure I'm an I though, even if just barely.

  10. #10
    reflecting pool Typh0n's Avatar
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    I dont particulary like crowds, but I associate this more with not being used to them. I like large parties, but the ones Ive been to out here suck because everyone keeps to themselves and/or people they know from outside the party, making there be no point in being there in the first place - to me, if you go to a party you go to socialize, not be an ass. If you dont wanna socialize with new people you stay home, it seems. I need lots of space, like large spaces and actually get claustrophobic easily(My friend thinks Im agoraphobic because I like to avoid public transportation. But its the other way around; I see no need to be cloistered in the subway with a million unfriendly people I dont know and who I dont want to know.) Basically, I like being around people, but there has to be some feeling of being welcome. I dont like crowds becuase I feel lost and insiginificant there, lost amidst a million people with no warm feelings for me, its all very cold.

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