Thanks to the advent of social media, people are more prone to indulge in narcissism. This can be seen in the common behaviors that suggest that someone thinks they’re a unique flower–from disbelief that someone hasn’t seen the same movie as them, to the oft-maligned selfie collection or food pictures. It’s kind of annoying.
A recent manifestation of this shoe-gazing behavior came in a rash of articles and infographics on introverts, those that have a lower-than-average preference for socializing with others. While society is built to reward extroverts (think of the positive association of the go-getter or the social butterfly) and condemn quieter folks (like every news report about a mass murderer), the sudden rash of “INTROVERTS ARE GREAT!” and “DON’T FEEL BAD, INTROVERT!” posts–popping up everywhere, from websites big and small, credible and idiotic–made me realize one thing: we’re not coddling introverts enough.
So I’ve created a five-step plan to protect these special snowflakes and make them feel even more empowered than ever. You can thank me later when that annoying friend on Facebook uses their child as their powerless creative outlet.
1. Engage the Introvert
Since introverts don’t like to socialize, you don’t want to scare them. I recommend shadowing the introvert: study them in their natural habitat, and make sure you are well hidden as you stalk your prey. Take lots of notes, as you may not know what an introvert does in the comfort of their self-imposed solitude.
Once you have a good idea of how the person reacts in social situations, approach them slowly; tiptoeing up to them in plain sight lets them know that you’re being considerate of their emotions. Once you two make eye contact, it is okay to make physical contact: gently stroke their hair and shoulders with your hands to show that you are empathetic; put an arm around them as a first step to a big bear hug; and maintain eye contact to show your seriousness. And make sure to whisper so as to not alarm them; suggested phrases include “Shhh… it’s going to be okay” and “Just relax and let it ride out.”
2. Make the Introvert Feel Safe
Now that you’ve made first contact with the introvert, it’s time to take the next step in gaining their trust. To show that you value them as the most important person, invite them to step onto a pedestal.
This literal and figurative base of your new friendship should have a flat wooden base for strength, four wheels to make your social structure mobile, metal bars welded into the base for protection against the elements, and a hinged door with a lock to give the appearance of safety.
Gently guide the introvert onto the pedestal; the promise of something introverts like (a Netflix-equipped TV, The Big Bang Theory memorabilia) should make that a snap. Close the hinged door behind them to remind them that they are in a safe emotional place. (Locking the door should cement that point.)
3. Shield the Introvert from Prying Eyes
With your introvert nice and protected, your first instinct will be to indulge the introvert’s desire for privacy. Go for it; both you and he/she have earned it!
Few things make people invisible from the world like darkness: Harry Potter had his invisibility cloak; Frodo Baggins had the “one ring to rule them all”; and internet trolls have their terrible personalities. In the case of the introvert, you can create your own invisibility cloak through a liquid sludge made from carbonized coal. Apply the liquid invisibility cloak while still aqueous; the visible vapors will alert you to its potency. Don’t be alarmed if the introvert voices their discomfort, as it is a social process; continue to whisper those suggested calming phrases.
4. Comfort the Introvert
Your introvert is concealed from prying eyes thanks to the coal-based invisibility sludge, but they may not still be comfortable. Make a makeshift form of encompassed comfort by mimicking a down-feathered blanket: gently sprinkle feathers on the introvert until every inch is covered. They should feel more comfortable in their body blanket, going a long way towards making them feel more at ease in their skin.
5. Presenting the Introvert
You’ve befriended and comforted your introvert. Now it is time to reintroduce them to society.
With their sense of self stronger and mobile (thanks to the rolling, metal-bar pedestal), you can bring them out of hiding. Let them see their safe and friendly public by wheeling them to a large crowd; sporting events, political protests, parades and circuses are reliable affairs for drawing scores of people.
Draped in their feathered body blanket, your introvert can emerge from the metal bars a more engaged, content person. And thus, your work is done. Good job!