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El_Cadejo's avatar

Introverts, how do you react in areas with a lot of people?

Asked by El_Cadejo (33659 points ) February 9th, 2014

For some reason concerts have never really bothered me(I think it’s because everyone’s attention is focused toward the stage and I can tune all the other people out) but aside from that I am not a fan of large groups of people.

I wouldn’t say I get panic attacks or any type of anxiety though which seems to be common, I just get angry. Like really angry, at everything. I can be in a perfectly good mood but put me around a bunch of people and I kinda just turn into a dick until I can get away from it all. I guess in that regard I do get a bit anxious but it’s different.

I find I’m also a lot worse in confined areas with a lot of different conversations going on like a classroom before class starts or the school cafeteria. I think part of it is the sheer amount of different conversations going on at the same time is completely overwhelming to me.

I just find it interesting how dickish I get when in these situations. I’ll pick up bits and pieces of one conversation or another and can’t help but think things like “wow you’re a fucking moron.” Yes, I know, I’m being extremely judgmental but I can’t seem to help it. If I were to overhear the same conversation outside of this setting I probably wouldn’t think much of it honestly.

So, my fellow fluther introverts, how do you get when lobbed into a situation with a ton of people?

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32 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

Without revealing more personal info than I am comfortable with sharing I will say that you are not alone. I pay money for help for the same affliction.

talljasperman's avatar

I become the center of attention, until I can hide somewhere safe.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I’m the same way, sometimes crowds are ok but usually I get anxious. I can’t stay in a room long with several conversations without picking up all of them and getting overloaded. I’m MUCH better at dealing with it now.

Smitha's avatar

I too don’t enjoy groups or parties, but that isn’t because I’m afraid of them. It’s because I get bored by them. I’d rather go to another room and read something, or listen to music, or think about something. My friends may complaint that I’m hiding from human interaction, but I just enjoy doing things that energizes me and brings me fulfillment. I’m not at all talkative. But if I have something to say, I certainly will. During my school days I used to hate it when the teacher stuck us in groups for projects.

muppetish's avatar

My response to these situations varies from panicked to angry to sad. Happy is not a word I typically associate with large groups or crowds.

Regardless of how I feel, I usually shut down. I’ll be the wallflower at the party (assuming I didn’t make up an excuse not to attend), the loner at the back of the bus, and the person staring at their shoes trying to pass through the halls quickly. I have to mentally occupy myself: put on headphones, count the floor tiles, go over to-do lists, or whatever.

I teach so I have to fake wanting to be around people all day. I love helping others, and get excited when our lessons turn to the stuff I really dig, but it does suck a lot of energy out of me to be actively involved in a group setting for hours at a time.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@muppetish heh I find myself sometimes putting on headphones even when my iPod is dead to block out the noise and so people will leave me alone :P

chyna's avatar

I too find myself getting angry when I’m around too many people. A crowd to me could be only 3 people in a small room if they are all talking at once. I wear headphones so no one will talk to me at the gym and I have figured out the times the grocery store is the least crowded.
I don’t know that I’m so much an introvert as I just generally don’t like people.

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t think an aversion to large indoor groups is introversion. Without knowing you personally, I’d also suggest that it might be related to a vision or hearing aberration. Lately I find it impossible to be in a room full of women, chattering. I know from tests that that end of my hearing has deteriorated, but I seem to hear them fine. It’s the stop.start. Reengage.

turtlesandbox's avatar

I hate crowds and parties, but if I must go I’d prefer it was a larger gathering of people. It’s easier to get lost in the crowd when you are in a large group. My worst nightmare is being stuck with someone I barely know and have to engage in small talk.

mrentropy's avatar

I tend to stay to myself, unless I know other people there. Then I stay around them. If I’m by myself and I see a bunch of people talking and having fun then I get angry at myself for not being like them and being able to put myself out there and join them. I feel sad and alone for not being part of the world, just an observer.

bolwerk's avatar

The psychological (Jungian, for lack of a better word) metric introversion doesn’t mean the same thing as “introversion” in day-to-day language. Most Jungian introverts like being around people, many perhaps as much as extroverts. They like parties, they like socials, they like meeting people. The key difference is how they like them. Extroverts find these things relaxing. Introverts find them consuming. Also, their mode for communicating is different. Introverts typically prefer written word to auditory communication; I would gather, by that trait alone, the bulk of the population here is introverted. Most introverts can speak to a crowd if they must, but an extrovert is likely to feel good doing it.

Personally, I prefer a collegial environment where I can discuss things we have in common with people. A big party, loud party is a bitch for me because I can’t socialize. I’m a modest introvert myself according to both Big 5 and Jungian MBTI metrics, but I sometimes wonder if it’s actually more inept introverts who are creating the environments described in the OP’s paragraph – basically, the people who can’t value spoken/auditory communication at all.

Haleth's avatar

My shoulders tense up and I want to punch everyone in the face.

AshLeigh's avatar

It depends on the day. I do not like being touched by people I don’t know. I’m kind of a cock about things, sometimes. Like, today I was standing in line at the Quicky Mart, and this guy was standing so close to me. Anyone walking by would have thought we were together. I mean, I could feel the heat coming from his body. I was like “Dude. You’re in my space.” and he just looked at me like I was the weirdest person ever. I’m a complete jerk to strangers.
If it’s an actual gathering with a group of people (family, weddings, picnics and all that jazz) I just get really quiet and wait until I can leave. If anyone comes up to me, I am polite but I usually find an excuse to stop talking to them.

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El_Cadejo's avatar

@ibstubro ” Without knowing you personally, I’d also suggest that it might be related to a vision or hearing aberration” What do you mean?

@bolwerk ” basically, the people who can’t value verbal communication at all.”
I don’t think that’s true, for me at least. When I’m in a small group or with just one person, I’m usually the one that tends to dominate the conversation.

cheebdragon's avatar

I tend to speed walk through crowds, i take short cuts around people and everyone with me usually gets left behind or has trouble keeping up with me. I can get really pissed at people walking slow or the people who randomly stop right in front of you, drives me nuts.

The upside is that I can haul ass through a crowd of people faster than most people, so if I ever turn to a life of crime the cops won’t be able to catch me!

bolwerk's avatar

@uberbatman: I wasn’t talking about you. I meant the types of people who create the environments you don’t like are perhaps introverts themselves – a more extreme kind than you. They are deliberately overlooking the very need vocal communication; that doesn’t seem like something an extrovert would do. You don’t seem that way at all, from what you describe.

I don’t quite get the angry part. I mean, I find those situations frustrating myself, but I leave them. Noise sensitivity and an intense inner world might indicate an autism spectrum disorder. Not saying that’s the problem, not saying it’s a problem if you have one, but have you investigated? Maybe start here.

susanc's avatar

Love this conversation.
Especially since it’s not audible.
Since I was a kid in my 20’s I’ve been driven to tears at bars, when trying to listen to music IN bars, at parties where people have to shout to be heard, etc. It’s not the noise level, it’s the sorting – I can kind of block out a solid wall of noise, but if I have to pick out one voice from a noisy clamor of voices, I really just lose my mind.
I read the book “Quiet” recently and found it useful. One thing she writes about is introverts who really do need to concentrate (as opposed to scattershot) their attention, but who are driven by commitment and passion to engage with crowds of people in order to do their best work. She writes about a teacher at (I think) Harvard who does great entertaining involved audience-connected lectures and seems to LOVE all the contact and then goes into the bathroom, sits on the toilet, puts his feet up against the toilet door, and waits till he gets over the stress of it all. It’s worth it to him to get up in front of his big crowd of students, AND it requires a big time-out to recover from it. I think lots of us are like this.

I wonder what it’s like to be an actual extrovert. hard to imagine…

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bolwerk Ah, I misunderstood your initial post.

” I find those situations frustrating myself, but I leave them.”

The “anger” comes when I don’t have a choice in the matter and can’t leave, such as in class. I wouldn’t say it’s anger that ever manifests in any real external way, just my mood and internal dialog goes to shit.

bolwerk's avatar

@uberbatman: well, you got a point there. Classes are pretty fucking nasty to inflict on people who don’t want them. But even then, being angry is a bit extreme. And there are much more extreme examples of crowding.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bolwerk Yea, I can’t stand being in the city at all, but for some reason I do better in areas like that because I can leave, I can get away.

Oddly enough, now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve been on some extremely crowded buses in Central America(like crowded where half the people are standing in the aisle inches from each other) for several hours at a time and I never really had any problems there.

I got a 16 on that test btw.

rojo's avatar

Anger, anxiety, angst, Disliked crowds, concerts, county fairs, any gatherings larger than 15 people. It used to be worse when I was younger but it has become easier to cope with the older I get. I know it will be over soon Sometime I just ‘self-medicate’ until it is. And, as we age we realize that we have the option of not going into certain situations that increase our stress levels, without having to explain ourselves.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I don’t have any problem with crowds. It’s the few annoying inconsiderate dickheads in the crowd.

thorninmud's avatar

I’m quite an introvert, but crowds don’t bother me at all. I’m uncomfortable in situations where I feel expected to “put out” socially. I can do that for a little while, but I can’t sustain it for long. I have yet to discover my own Fountain of Stuff to Say that other people seem to have tapped. Instead, I have this little verbal seep that, given enough time, can occasionally constitute a glassful. In social situations, I feel protective of that little glassful since it’s so slow to replenish.

That’s the great thing about Fluther for people like me. I can just sit here and let my verbage seep slowly into this text box until it fills the glass, then serve it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I am not an introvert but much of what you are describing is similar. I hate being in crowds as I am hyper-aware of security. I dislike being in loud bars and trying to talk to someone over loud music or conversations. If I am in a place where there are many people carrying on conversations that I can overhear I can’t help but think, “Really?” They seem so dumb.
I avoid restaurants and places with blaring TVs on the wall and if I find myself in one I will intentionally face away from the screen.
I was at Mall about a year ago and they had a TV blaring some crap that was so loud people had to yell over it. I pulled a table under it, stood on top and lowered the sound so it was barely audible. A year later it is still like that.
The best situation for me is to be at a quiet, not necessarily fancy, restaurant where I can talk to a couple of people without shouting. (Does that make me a closet introvert?)

bolwerk's avatar

@uberbatman: see, I actually like cities because of my introversion. The wrong kind of crowd can make me anxious too (public transportation is fine; a nightclub typically is misery for me), but cities actually afford me more privacy because people in cities mind their own damn business better than people in suburbs or rural places.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@bolwerk This is true, I do feel more anonymous in a city just because there are so many people I’m just another face in the crowd.

@LuckyGuy Yea, I have the same aversion to bars. On the upside it has saved me a ton of money over the years, some of my friends just think I’m really boring :P

My philosophy is that if I’m going out somewhere to spend time with you, I kinda actually want to be able to talk to you, because otherwise, wtf are we even doing here?

ibstubro's avatar

Perhaps, @uberbatman, you have a slight impairment (ADHDish) that prevents the processing of a sensory overload.

Personally I’m losing my hearing slowly and it seems to give me an intolerance for certain sounds. Either I hear them too intensely because of the softening of other sounds, or I don’t hear them clearly enough. This also accounts for my aversion to loud bars, restaurants and other venues.

I’m suggesting that there might be a natural, physical, basis for your introversion.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@uberbatman, @ibstubro Some bars are just too loud – like the place where we had the year end office party. . If I have to yell to be heard by the person next to me, I am not gong to speak much. I will also leave early. (Bar owners take note.)
I came to the event to talk with people away from the office setting, not to drink or listen to amorphous club music. Since the event I set up 2 breakfast meetings with some guys I have not seen: 7:00 AM at Denny’s. Perfect!

ibstubro's avatar

Our most popular local eatery is way too loud for me, @LuckyGuy. I just can’t enjoy the food in that environment. I’d rather have poorer food and better company than great food with loud noise.

I went to a Roadhouse place recently, and it was the same…screaming people, line dancing and overly loud music to set the tone. If the food is that great, call and order take-out and we’ll eat it at my house. lol

LuckyGuy's avatar

The most important part of the meal is the company. The food and the setting are secondary.
I can have a truly enjoyable evening sitting and talking with someone in a family restaurant.

Paradox25's avatar

“Wow you’re a fucking moron”, yes this sounds like how I generally think when I pick of fragments of conversations from others around me. I’m similar so I don’t know what to tell you. Usually I avoid crowded situations where people are just standing and conversing rather than moving along. If I have to be in such a situation though I generally try to take my mind off of my environment such as by either keeping a magazine or book handy, or by simply just daydreaming.

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