Freedom and the Introvert

If there was just one idea I could teach a classroom of children.  An idea that would help create a better society around them wherever they go, it would be this.

To see society as an individual.

Over the years I’ve learned it’s one of the fundamentally different ways I perceive the world from others.

I spent years trying to explain my motivations to others and they would just stare at me.  I gave up.

Over time I finally figured out where the disconnect was.  Our fundamental world views were totally different.

An extrovert who lives within the social body sees society as reality itself.  If fuzzy hats are in fashion, they can’t criticize or argue with that because it is a natural law, like the laws of physics.  We all have to have a job or own a car because that’s just how it is, seemingly as constant as gravity. 
A well-adjusted person always uses words like ‘we’ when referring to a sports team, a nation, or a corporation.  In fact, I find one of the best ways to blend in with people is to use the collective ‘we’ in a sentence.
Ever noticed how anything in life considered mandatory by extrovert belongers is referred to as a ‘track?’  In their minds, it’s literally a mechanical rail from which life cannot deviate.

An outsider, meanwhile, learns to think of the society they live in as a single large entity they must co-exist with.  And over time, as an individual sitting across from them at a bargaining table.
Every day, I see this shadowy individual sitting across from me in a bare white room, like an interrogation room.  Between us, on the table lies a chess board on which we make our moves.  Every day is a new day where we negotiate terms at that table.  Any agreement, tacit or explicit is subject to sudden change.

This game is very challenging because I am weak and small while the being I’m playing against is immeasurably powerful.  It puts the terms on the table, but I have only a little power to reject or change the terms set before me.  Most of the time I have to rely on guile to get my way, looking for any crack in its defenses.  Existence is precarious.  At any time, it is capable of crushing me like an insect.  Its strong limbs are created by the power of belief of countless millions.  In spite of its overwhelming power, though, I am winning.

Compare my attitude now to a plugged-in person who simply takes whatever terms are handed to them and calls it ‘reality.’  There is no prospect for improvement or a better life.  Even if they become among a few who are rich in wealth or status, they can never escape the rules.
Worse, every person who uncritically accepts the world around them is a threat to every being of awareness and agency.

At the bargaining table, society has some limitations.  It can only offer an individual what most individuals are willing to accept.  If society isn’t offering what you want, it’s because most other people are willing to settle for less.
Every unaware person functioning as an unwitting tendril of Society is like a scab filling in for strikers, a liability to the common good.

We see every society is only as rich or poor, peaceful or violent, enslaved or free as an expression of most members of the group.  One could move them all to a new continent, even another planet, and all the same traits would quickly reassert themselves.
The society we must bargain with is exactly what we collectively deserve.

The character of Mr. Society sitting across the table from you tells you exactly how much most of your fellow humans are on your side.  Sadly, when I look into its face, I cannot doubt that it is The Enemy, as I knew by instinct even as a small child.  It is a sad perversion of what it ought to be.

The perspective of the introverted outsider, is similar to the Kantian concept of a moral imperative.  To consider what the world would look like if everyone did it.
To not steal from a supermarket, for instance, because no supermarket could stay open if everyone stole.  And because every theft passes the cost on to those who pay.

The outsider understands a burden of responsibility that is inherently alien to Belongers.  This, however, gives a matured outsider incredible freedom and power to act on the world.  The ability to do things that most others on their predestined tracks cannot even imagine.
The ability to face society at that table and engage in battle, knowing that you’re not just fighting for yourself, but for the sake of everyone around you… That’s what sets apart a free being from the perpetual slave.

Many times in life I’ve simply found ways around the typical ‘achievements’ and status trinkets that are considered essential, not because there’s anything special about them, but because people are mortally afraid of ostracism from the tribe if they fail.  Afraid of losing access to mating partners.  Afraid of being broke and losing status.  Afraid of ending up out on the streets.  Afraid of being turned away by their friends and family…
But when you turn and meet The Enemy face to face, you stop being a small terrified thing just reacting to capricious threats from cradle to grave.

7 responses to “Freedom and the Introvert

  1. I’d love it if you could share more specifically the ways to win this battle with Mr. Society. Or if you’ve already written about it elsewhere, please share the links! I find the more I extract myself from society the greater freedom I feel, but this doesn’t help me when I’m forced to interact with it.

  2. I’m struggling so much being a loner in this bigot country. My choice came with years and when I finally understood that having other people around was my problem, I cut myself away from it and as far as my spare time goes, it’s great.

    I gladly abandoned friendships because I hate the mechanics by which they work, a couple years ago I decided to quit relationships because I hate dealing with a SO’s mood swings, and I make a terrible partner myself. I realized I was looking for these things because I was taught I HAD to, and those were the things that were supposed to make me whole and happy, my outlets, like having a car and a cell phone and a future with kids in it and a God to pray to.

    People close to me keep telling me all of this is NECESSARY, I honestly feel more empathy towards my cat than towards most human beings. I’m told I’m too caustic and I have a superiority complex. I really don’t, it’s just that I don’t enjoy listening to people my age talking about the things that people my age talk about and on top of all, I’d much rather spend my time doing something else that keeps my imagination running. Unlike people, my cat behaves in a simple, natural way I can understand and just like me she doesn’t care about TV, God or politics.

    Ultimately I realized I don’t like this world but I love reading and I love spacing out with my imagination, but the fact I can’t really pull away from the reality of things makes me depressed. Most of the things people I HAVE to interact with talk about, like gossip or fashion or religion or sports sound outright alien to me, I couldn’t care less and it’s about as interesting to me as watching paint dry. It makes me feel trapped because really, I’d rather talk about nature or space or not talk at all which is even better.

    I’m happy this way, I only wish getting a job which didn’t involve interacting with people was easier, even for how ‘low’ I set the bar. After all I don’t need much to keep going, I don’t want a career, I don’t want children, I don’t want to “go out” and “find some friends” or “find a girlfriend”. I was way worse off when I had those things. And there’s no way to explain to others how this is a conscious choice rather than resignation to something I can’t obtain, it’s like giving up on society automatically means you’re too handicapped to get friends and sex, or fill your precious bank account up with precious savings for the ‘future’. Yet the fact that society says you’re handicapped makes you in fact handicapped, even when you’re fully able to participate and you look perfectly normal. There is no way to pull back from it.

    • E, I think this is a problem all us introverts face. The underlying issue is that we live in a world that is not set up for us. We have to interact with others and that creates tensions, which make us want to go back into our shells.

      I would love to just disassociate from this world (or society as your refer to it, but I think it is the world), but that is impossible. The only way that can ever be done is death, but I want to live damn it. Let the rest of them die.

      It is our hardwired biological needs that make complete disassociation impossible and create the depression all of us feel, even though we think we have managed to get above the collective. We just have to remember the golden rule, the borg always win and if they don’t you get swallowed up by the federation.

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