I am, depending on the day, a moderate to strong introvert. Nowadays, basically no one understands what this means, because they use it as a synonym of social awkwardness or occasional social discomfort, and everyone will answer "I am introverted too" even when it clearly is not the case. I can interact socially but only with a great expenditure of energy -- the few people I call my friends are the ones whom I can hang out with without it costing me energy. I cross streets to avoid interacting with neighbors, and frequently avoid eye contact with most everyone because every instance of eye contact could potentially lead to a social interaction I am trying to avoid. Like a manic depressive, I go through times that are better and worse -- in times of extreme introversion I will hide in the bathroom for hours rather than even attempt to make conversation with people at some function. If I am not in the bathroom, I sometimes go on talking jags, which is another way not to interact if you think about it. Also like many introverts, I love public speaking, the larger venue the better. Despite it being the #1 reported fear in the general population, I have never feared public speaking -- in fact, I often seek it out.
I don't avoid social contact because I hate people. I like people, and I am not a misanthrope (except maybe when I watch MSNBC too long). I don't avoid social contact because I dislike myself or lack confidence -- folks around me can tell you I have an over-abundance of self-confidence. If this does not make much sense, neither do a lot of phobias to folks who do not have them. The closest I can equate it is that I can get a feeling similar to claustrophobia when interacting with people.
I don't really discuss this much in the blog because a) it is largely irrelevant to blogging and I am unlikely every to meet 99.9% of you face to face; b) I have learned to function pretty well in most situations; and c) I have no particular desire to be a victim. In fact, to the latter, it is impossible to escape feelings of guilt about it, particularly for my wife who has to put up with embarrassing things like seeing me stand alone in a corner at some function.
I bring this all up only to warn you that apparently, this all means that I am a racist:
Students who avoid making eye contact with their peers could be guilty of racism, according to Oxford University’s latest guidance.
The university’s Equality and Diversity Unit has advised students that “not speaking directly to people” could be deemed a “racial microaggression” which can lead to “mental ill-health”.