For reasons I do not care to get into right now (though trust me, everyone is fine now) I have spent a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms lately. These are odd little microcosms of society that have not been studied sufficiently by trained sociologists. Therefore, I took it upon myself to make some observations.
There is always a television on. It is never on loud enough so that you can hear all the words that people are saying, but it is loud enough that it prevents you from reading a book unless you are really into that book. The TV is generally turned into a channel like HGTV that doesn’t thrill anyone, but doesn’t offend anyone, either. It is hard to get excited about whether a family with a $700,000.00 budget will choose the ranch over the split level, and it is just as hard to be angry about the rejected house. Likewise, no one gets hepped up about someone’s ability to take a flea market nightstand and turn it into a wine rack with nothing more than spray paint and some shiny hardware. Ho hum.
The people in the room are largely divided into two categories: yappers and non-yappers. This is not the same as talkers and non-talkers. Sometimes, there is a good bit of bonding to do over loved ones who have the same medical condition that brought you into the waiting room at the same time. Talking is always acceptable, and often welcome. I’m not talking about that. No, yappers are the ones who are made nervous by the generally hushed tone of the room and feel compelled to fill it. With anything. With a lengthy discussion about how the amount of rain this year compares to the amount of rain last year. With a blow by blow description of every traffic light between their house and the waiting room in question.
It’s rude to ignore the yappers. It’s even ruder to say, “What part of me burying my nose in a book made you think I was interested in hearing about the super-fresh tomatoes you bought at a roadside stand three years ago in South Carolina?” All of which is a long lead up to this point: why have we, as a society, decided that it is ruder for me to tell the people who interrupt my work on a laptop by yapping in my ear about gas prices than it is for the person who is interrupting my work to interrupt me? Put another way, why have we decided that it is not just fair game, but actually “friendly” and “social” for an extrovert to impose her will and desired state of being on an introvert, but it is rude and stand-offish for an introvert to impose her will and desired state of being on an extrovert. Why do I have to talk about nothing, but you don’t have to be quiet so I can do my own thing?
The world is, of course, designed for extroverts. Having had a lot of time to think about this, I’ve decided this is because of two reasons:
- There are far more extroverts than introverts, and majority usually wins; and
- Extroverts are by definition louder than introverts, and the louder argument usually wins, if for no other reason than they just wear down the quieter person and/or drown out their voices.
The “Tyranny of the Majority” was a concept argued by our founding fathers, and particularly by the newly minted rock star Alexander Hamilton in the Federal Papers. The phrase itself was coined by John Adams, our second president. It stands for the proposition that if we rely solely on majority rule, then the minority will never have a chance – the inherent weakness of the minority (whether a minority of thought, race, ethnicity, religion, etc.) will never have enough ‘votes’ to get its way. The result of the original debate was the Bill of Rights, which was created in order to ensure that the majority would never run roughshod over the minority.
So, in the spirit of Hamilton the actual man who Thought Deep Thoughts, in the spirit of Hamilton the Musical, in the spirit of the Fourth of July which celebrates our Independence and our freedom to be you and me that is basic to the American Way, I offer this, the Bill of Rights for Introverts:
- Freedom of Speech is an unalienable right. The Freedom Not to Listen to whatever nonsense you are speechifying about is likewise a right.
- In order to ensure a well-regulated state of sanity, I am allowed to keep and bear earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones at any time.
- No person shall, in time of peace, be yapping in any form without the consent of the listener, which shalt not be taken for granted.
- The right of the people to be secure in their own thoughts, without unreasonable seizures and invasions, shall not be violated.
- No person shall be compelled to be a witness against him or herself, in that he or she shall not be deprived of life, liberty, property, or silence without her consent.
- Necessary conversation shall be speedy. There shall be no unnecessary delay in getting to the point. Extraneous details and repetitious points are Double Jeopardy, and shall not be abided.
- If I snap because of your yapping, I have a right to a jury of MY peers, which means a jury of introverts.
- Any discussion involving Reality TV or an individual who is famous simply for being famous, is cruel and unusual punishment and is specifically prohibited.
- Just because I haven’t thought of all the rights introverts should have doesn’t mean we don’t have other rights when I think of them.
- The Powers not delegated to introverts themselves are reserved to the Keepers of Introvert culture, such as librarians and people in charge of getting cranky babies to sleep.
I think these are reasonable, if a little curmudgeonly. And, in animated movies, doesn’t the curmudgeon always end up being the hero? (Think Shrek. Think the old dude in “Up.” Think The Beast in “Beauty and the Beast.”) I think we should take it to a vote after reasonable – civil, indoor-voices-only, intellectual, respectful – debate.
If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori on Twitter or on Facebook. Lori is a National Society of Newspaper Columnists 2018 Columnist winner, and a New Apple, Readers’ Favorite, and eLit award winner for her latest release, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.” She is also the author of the bestselling books “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,” and “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket.”
Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.