Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm not shy, I just don't like you.

I am a misanthrope. For a long time, this was a source of shame, as I incorrectly equated being a misanthrope with being unlikeable. And although I still occasionally find myself feeling defensive of my misanthropy, I have, for the most part, come to accept and even embrace it.

Basically, I favor quality over quantity, but to an extreme. I am extraordinarily demanding when it comes to determining whether a particular individual is really worth a substantial amount of my time and energy.
I love my best friend, my boyfriend, my sister, and my parents so much that I really don't need more people. Further relationships only seem worth the effort if they are going to enrich my life in some way. Given the option, I prefer to avoid anyone who is not especially interesting, intelligent, or funny. I don't care if you are attractive or cool or rich or popular - I only care whether or not you can carry on a conversation that will make me think or laugh or preferably both. I have been fortunate enough to encounter many people who do make me think and laugh. But the more time I spend with such people, the less patience and generosity I have for the people who don't.

This is not to say that I dislike people who are not especially interesting, intelligent, or funny. I have no problem with their overall existence. I am just less inclined to go out of my way to talk to them. And when, in certain social situations, I find myself obliged to undergo extended interactions with such people, politeness dictates that I pretend to find them interesting, intelligent, and funny, and this is deeply exhausting. Despite my theatrical and fiction writing experience, I am somehow terribly inept at faking it. I am generally a dismal failure at small talk. So during these extended interactions with less than fascinating individuals, I either seem stiff and awkward or, if I do not attempt to politely feign fascination, I seem cold and mean. And in a sense I suppose I am both, but in another sense I am really neither; I am just utterly unable to be convincingly fake.

I don't ever mean to be cold or reclusive or unfriendly. I just don't know what to say unless I am genuinely engaged in an intriguing conversation. And there are so many things I would rather be doing than devoting my time to a conversation or interaction that isn't genuinely engaging and intriguing. I could be reading or writing or painting, and I would much rather determine my self worth by exposing myself to new ideas or creating art or building truly meaningful relationships than by accumulating Facebook friends. Now that I am an adult with a real job, free time seems especially fleeting and precious and not to be wasted on people who are boring or stupid.

There are plenty of people I do like very much, and I do enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them. I just find it almost cripplingly difficult to muster up the energy to be someone other than my bitchy, sarcastic, demanding, critical self: a self that fails at first impressions and is rarely welcome or appropriate in larger social settings.


Andy Hodges said...

Based on how you described yourself on this blog post, it seems to me that you are more of an introvert rather than a misanthrope.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean that you are a shy person or are antisocial nor does it mean that you have social anxiety or lack basic social skills, it just means that you don’t like to engage into pointless banter with random strangers, are fickle about your relationships and find most social situations to be insignificant.
I myself am an extremely introverted person and I have never regretted being the person that I am. Even though I have somewhat alienated myself from the world and have few social connections, it has never bothered me that my introverted nature may have labeled me as a loser by all those narrow minded douche bags that amount to nothing or how it caused me various other hardships. And although it annoys the living fuck out of me every time someone I barely know approaches me and talks about their opinions I couldn't care less about, their personal political or spiritual beliefs or every time I watch someone desperately try and climb a petty social ladder just so that person can feel more important, I don’t hate them for it despite that I can’t get along with those kinds of people.

Well, enough about myself already, if anyone reading this interested in learning about the differences between introverts and extroverts and how introverts can improve themselves I highly suggest reading “The Introvert Advantage”.

Oh, and thanks for the interesting read.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post.

Now let's be friends so we can have wonderful conversations that consist of: The weather, celebrity gossip, complaints about things I probably have no intention of acting on or am able to change, the minutiae of my daily life, and generally anything that does not add new information or provides insight to either or both of us*.

*This excludes topics like the origins of the universe, our identities, human behavior, science, or things that truly move you. Who cares about any of that stuff anyway?