Counterculture is a culture that opposes mass culture and values. Countercultures embody distinctive and unique styles opposing dominant and mass cultures, which they find to be politically manipulated (Arthur and Sherman, 2010). I chose to evaluate the counterculture of introverts. In America, extroversion is the ideal and being introverted means being discounted. Susan Cain (2012) evaluates the introversion counterculture and the systematic degradation of introversion in her book Quiet. Quiet spurred a discussion forum, The Power of Introverts, for other introverts to unite. Through the evaluation of The Power of Introverts forum, I found three common themes that demonstrate how the online community of introverts represent themselves and contribute to their community. First, the community uses The Power of Introverts online forum to connect on topics that enhance understanding and education of the introverted personality. This, in turn, creates a united community of introverts by posting content that only other introverts will understand. Secondly, many members participate to make connections and alleviate the loneliness they experience as introverts. Finally, many individuals participate to better understand how to succeed in the workplace with an introverted personality type.
Within The Power of Introverts forum, many introverts share content that help others understand what they experience as an introvert in an extroverted world. The Uses and Gratifications (U&G) theoretical framework examines how individuals use mass media. U&G suggests, “individuals select media and content to fulfill felt needs or wants” (Papacharissi, 2008, p. 137). One of the needs of the introverted community is to be understood. Within The Power of Introverts forum members can discuss topics that are relevant to them. The discussion forum boards include General Conversation, Parenting, Work, Education, Quiet: the Book and Quiet Revolution. One can see examples of sharing content that enhances the understanding of introversion through posts, such as the one made by mrmilquetoast (2013) that shares a video from Buzzfeed titled “15 Things Introverts Want You To Know,” (2013). This video includes tips for those who have friends, family or coworkers who are introverts so they can better understand what their introverted friend might be feeling in different situations.
McNeil (2013) discusses the intrinsic motivation to create our online projection of identity. One of the components of motivation for introverts in participating in this online forum is companionship. Introverts have a more difficult time feeling connecting to others in a face-to-face context to the nature of introversion. One of the common misnomers about introverts is that they are hermits and misanthropes. While this can be true, introverts can also be friendly and love people (Cain, 2012). They may desire connection, but not feel comfortable with the traditional means of connecting, such as face-to-face events or parties. For this reason, introverts can feel more comfortable connecting online. Through evaluation of The Power of Introverts, I discovered that many individuals connect on topics that alleviate the loneliness they experience as introverts. One example of this is the post by smithder42 (2014) that asks others about their favorite hobbies. This individual’s favorite hobbies included primarily solo activities that resonate with introverts, such as reading, writing and arts. Not only was the individual looking for support in the hobbies that she enjoyed, but also she was looking to connect with others with common interests.
Personality psychologist, David Funder, states that the biggest difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts recharge their batteries by being alone and extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough (as cited in Cain, 2012). Personality shapes social styles. Extroverts think out loud, on their feet and prefer talking to listening. Introverts may have strong social skills, but they prefer to listen more than talk, think before they speak and express themselves better through writing than in conversation (Cain, 2012). One can see how the personality type of an introvert bodes well for the online community. Arthur and Sherman (2010) state that counterculture communities “describe a homologous relationship between the consumption of the subculture’s members and values of the group,” (p. 386). The members of The Power of Introverts share content about introversion, as introverts, which creates a homologous relationship between the values, content posted and content consumed in community.
Since extroversion is the preferred personality type in many workplaces, many introverts often feel misunderstood. The Work discussion board is particularly valuable for introverts who would like to understand how to be successful at work with an introverted personality. As Koifman (2013) states, “It’s sometimes easy to feel that our world favours those who are more extroverted, that we need to be outgoing and gregarious to succeed in the workplace and in our social lives.” The post Introverts in IT development, discusses how 80 percent of those who work in information technology are introverts (Kai, 2014). There is also a post that asks others, “Are there any more introverted-oriented jobs out there?” (Janus, 2014). This demonstrates that other introverts use this community to connect on tips for being successful in their current jobs, as well as tips for jobs they should explore as an introvert.
In conclusion, as an introvert, I appreciate the rise of the introvert counter culture, and connection on the online forum The Power of Introverts. The Power of Introverts is an online forum in which introverts share content to enhance education, share tips on professional success and connect with others who share this same personality type. The community creates their own identity by sharing content that enhances understanding of introversion, while at the same time connecting with each other and helping to alleviate the loneliness they experience as introverts.
Arthur, D., & Sherman, C. (2010). Status within a Consumption-Oriented Counterculture: An Ethnographic Investigation of the Australian Hip Hop Culture. Advances In Consumer Research, 37386-392.
BuzzFeedVideo [screen name] (2013, Aug. 9). 15 things introverts want you to know. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsEPMB5Usck
Cain, Susan (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group.
Janus [screen name] (2014, Aug. 30). Forum. Retrieved from http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/forum/?vasthtmlaction=viewtopic&t=416
Kai [screen name] (2014, Nov. 17). Forum. Retrieved from http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/forum/?vasthtmlaction=viewtopic&t=432
Koifman, N. (2013, April 26). Succeeding as an introvert in an extroverted world. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/natasha-koifman/introverts-and-extroverts_b_3163168.html
McNeill, S. (2013). Concepts in new media: Online communication, culture, and community. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions.
Mrmilquetoast [screen name] (2013, Aug. 9). 15 things introverts want you to know. The Power of Introverts. Retrieved from http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/forum/?vasthtmlaction=viewtopic&t=299
Papacharissi, Z. (2008). Uses and gratifications. In M. Salwen and D. Stacks (Eds.) Uses and gratifications. An integrated approach to communication theory and research (pp. 137-152). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Smithder42 [screen name] (2014, April 27). Hobbies of an introvert. The Power of Introverts. Retrieved from http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/forum/?vasthtmlaction=viewtopic&t=380
Quiet: The Forum (n.d.). The Power of Introverts. Retrieved from http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/forum/