Where are the Introverts?

Feb 29,2016
MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is still largely unknown in Japan, but it's a bit more useful than trying to psychoanalyse people based on twelve-year birth cycles or blood types. It's often said that in the West many companies use MBTI to pigeonhole their employees for various purposes, but I have never personally experienced this. Mostly it's a fun party game and a way to share generally clustering traits in a convenient, easy-to-swallow format.

Socioarc is the only I know of that collects MBTI information within Japan, and the statistics given are based entirely on the voluntary responses of individuals who happen to have found the site.
The first parameter of MBTI is Introversion vs. Extraversion, for which the majority of respondents indicated the former. It's one of the things that might make one question how much of the survey is translated accurately enough that people are able to provide the correct responses about themselves in all cases. On the other hand, it could well be that more than half the people around me actually would prefer to be left alone most of the time, but that the social protocol society has developed simply won't allow that, and obliges all of us to act in ways contrary to our basic nature.

Culturally, the Japanese are fond of describing themselves as 'shy', but this doesn't seem to have anything to do with introversion. It seems instead to be social awkwardness resulting from it having being drilled into them that, while certain rules of social etiquette are of the utmost importance, the rules themselves are nebulous and no extant system of training in them is sufficient. The stress of uncertainty causes a lack of social confidence that translates to discomfort in social settings that can be described as 'shyness'.
Introversion, on the other hand, means that being around other humans for too long and in too large numbers leads to psychological exhaustion whether one knows, or even cares about, the rules.

Introversion is thus out of place in a culture that values group activities and cohesion to such an extent that frequent socialising is obligatory and inescapable. Offices are open settings, and if you're a company man, you simply have to go out drinking with your coworkers--even if you're an introvert who detests alcohol.

If the MBTI statistics from Socioarc above are accurate, it means that more than half the population lives in a state of near-constant psychological exhaustion, unless they choose to remove themselves from the situation, to the detriment of their social standing.

Extraverts will have trouble understanding this. A suitable metaphor might be having an area of one's body rubbed with a rough article of clothing that is rarely allowed to be removed. The rubbing is nearly constant, so that the pain and irritation never really have a chance to heal.

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