It’s OK To Be An Introvert

I just read this article in Scientific American about introverts. It is a great article and everything about it resonated with me. I’ve always been an introvert and I’ve always felt like it was something that was a disadvantage. As the author said, this world really is aimed at extroverts and we encourage people to be “go-getters”. I’ve become pretty good at faking extraversion. So good, in fact, that I got my last job because my boss mentioned that he thought my extroverted personality would be the best fit for the work environment. Faking it is draining though. I wish I could say I was an introvert without people thinking that I was an anti-social pariah.

It sucks that introverts are under appreciated. I actually think being an introvert makes me much more productive at work. Unlike most people in the office, I’m able to concentrate on a project for a few hours without needing to have a conversation with someone every twenty minutes. Many people I know look at introversion as being a character flaw. People always tell me that I don’t go out enough or don’t socialize enough. They don’t realize how exhausting doing those things are for me. I enjoy the company of my close friends and family but I’ve always found it difficult to go to office parties for example. There are too many people there I don’t know well. It’s like sensory overload for me. It feels forced. Fake smile, fake conversation, just for the sake of appearing like I’m having fun and fitting in. I usually don’t go to office parties and I inevitably get asked why. It’s always annoying to have to come up with an excuse because you know that saying “I just don’t like parties” is not acceptable. Also, I’ve always preferred having boundaries. I don’t know if that has anything to do with being an introvert, but I was always reticent about getting too personal with people at work. It seems like everything can be held against you nowadays and I am pretty opinionated about everything so I usually avoid talking about anything of consequence with colleagues. That means that I stay away from religion, politics and my personal life at work. It’s difficult to discuss anything that might be controversial, like science or skepticism, since so many people have weird beliefs about these things. That doesn’t leave much to talk about. To be honest, I actually prefer it that way. I see my job as the necessary thing I need to do in order to have the means to do the things I want to do. I want to go to work, do what I need to do, and then go home and do things I enjoy. I want work to be about work. Most people are not like that. They see work as just another opportunity to socialize and that’s difficult for me. I prefer to concentrate on work with co-workers. If possible, I usually prefer email over the phone. It allows me to address the issue in my own time and compose a complete answer without the pressure to think of everything instantly in the moment. I can think it through. I also don’t require much praise. As long as my superiors are happy with what I am doing and I get paid, that’s enough for me. I don’t need to have my accomplishments published in the monthly newsletter. As my family says, I’m a behind-the-scenes person. I just wish it was more widely accepted as valuable instead of being seen as a character flaw.

I enjoy solitude. There is no one I have to fit in with when I’m alone. I get to do what I feel like doing without being labelled boring or anti-social. I like to read. A lot. I am a perpetually curious person and I enjoy learning things. So I spend a lot of time reading science blogs, the news, books. Sometimes, it seems like there are not enough hours in one day to look at all the interesting things that are going on. I always feel like I am probably missing something interesting. Reading is an activity that is really done better alone. Especially if you are reading something that’s a bit complicated. It’s difficult to concentrate when someone is there and interrupts you. So I spend a lot of time alone reading. It’s not that I don’t enjoy connecting with people. There are also people I enjoy spending time with. I see my family every week. I enjoy their company. I have friends I make a point of seeing on a fairly regular basis. I am comfortable with my circle of friends and family. I just don’t feel the need to make a connection with every single person I deal with. If I don’t have anything in common with someone, I think that should be OK.

Atheist Temple

I’m not sure I understand the thinking behind the idea of having atheist temples. I’ve always found that aspect of religion to be a colossal waste of money. I never understood how the catholic church could spend millions of dollars on the vatican instead of taking that money to feed the poor (something they say they are supposed to do anyway). I think we have much better ways to spend that kind of money also. Education, after-school programs, soup kitchens, etc. What’s the purpose of the temple anyway? Do you actually think that atheists will flock to it? I don’t. What would be the purpose of going? So it’s not like I think this will be a good way to generate revenue. It’s just a money pit and a terrible idea. I hope they don’t go through with it.

Too Young For Politics

I read this post today about young people being liberals. This section particularly struck a chord:

As I pondered the deluge, one sentiment from conservatives struck me: that I was too young to understand the wisdom of conservative ideology. As if my neocortex needs to evolve for another ten years, until finally developing that Personal Responsibility Radar that seems to be a byproduct of age.

I’ve heard the “too young” excuse too often concerning politics and it aggravates me every time. The quote above is about conservatism but the same principle applies to politics in general. Politicians want the youth vote, just not the youth opinions or ideas. It’s condescending and insulting. Apparently, you have to be alive for a great number of years before you can have a grasp of how the world works. Only then can you really manage to screw it up (look at the gridlock in the US Congress).

This reminds me of a conversation I had with some friends where I suggested someone should run as a party leader (I’m Canadian by the way). Every single person told me he was too young to take on that kind of responsibility. The MP in question is forty years old. Not exactly right out of high school. How old do you need to be before people don’t question your competence based solely on your age?

The current average age of the members of the Canadian House of Commons is 50.52. The average age of the Canadian population is 39.9. The Canadian population isn’t exactly being represented by their peers. And it’s not just about age. Women, visible minorities, atheists, and LGBT people are all underrepresented in politics. Important decisions that affect all these segments of the population are being made by old christian heterosexual white men. Let’s face it, this is the part of the population that has the most rights. It’s given them advantages. They’re not exactly in a hurry to make things better for everyone else because they don’t think everyone else has it that bad. Not to mention that it takes away their advantage over others. It’s easy for someone who has the right to marry the person they love to tell others they shouldn’t have the same right. No skin off their back. They should be allowed to shove their religion down our throats but atheists should just keep their lack of beliefs to themselves. It’s ok for women to be paid less than men for the same job. They just have a job for fun anyway, right?

Being young doesn’t make you ignorant. A thirty-year old can do just as good a job as an MP as a sixty-year old. It’s possibly they could even be better. Someone younger would probably be more adaptable to change and more willing to adopt new policies. Things would probably move faster in government. I could also be wrong. The thing is, we can’t know for sure until we try. We have to be better about supporting candidates that are not the usual suspects. Then we have to ignore the millions of dollars worth of propaganda that will urge us to support the old white guy. I think we can do it. I think we should do it. it might just make the old white guys shut up and listen to us for a change.

Atheist Billboards Need Better Design

I know everyone else and their cousin has commented about these billboards but I just can’t help myself. They couldn’t make them more attractive? The optimist in me thinks that they may have done this on purpose because they thought it would attract even more attention and get people talking about the billboards. I’m not sure it’s necessary. Based on what I’ve been reading about reactions to atheist billboards all year, ANY atheist billboard will get talked about in the community. So maybe we could make an effort to make them a bit more attractive? I want people’s eyes to be drawn to these billboards. I look at these and the first thing I want to do is turn away, not read the message.

via Friendly Atheist

Why I’m An Atheist

PZ Myers has been putting up one post a day that his readers send him explaining why they are atheist. Since I have my own blog, I thought I would borrow his idea and post my own road to atheism here. I think it makes a good first post and is a good way to introduce myself a bit more.

My parents split up when I was pretty young and I spent most of my childhood primarily living with my mother. She grew up in a Catholic home. Her parents were both deeply religious and I still remember going to church with my grandmother when I spent summers there in my youth. My mother was less religious than her parents but she did have me baptized (I think she believed then and she thought it was important) and I went through with my First Communion (I was six years old by then; still too young to have an opinion of my own about a god). I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but by the time I reached ten, I no longer thought god existed. I told my mother I did not want to do my Confirmation, since I thought that would be hypocritical. To her credit, she did not force me to go through with it. In retrospect, I think my mother may have been having doubts of her own about god. Whenever she may have lost her faith, my mother never said anything to me until after her mother died. I think my mother wanted to spare her feelings given that my grandmother was deeply religious.

Like I said, I do not remember when I realized that the idea of god and religion was silly. I didn’t come to the realization after long and deep thought. I was a kid. I just realized that the stories I had been reading from the Bible made absolutely no sense. I just could not get over the fact that an all-powerful being would just let people suffer and allow wars to go on. And that was it. No more god and religion. I stopped spending my summers at my grandmother’s at this point. I don’t think it was a result of my conversion to atheism, but more of a logistical issue. I had siblings that were old enough to babysit at this point and my mother liked having me home for the summer. My mother never went to church so it’s not like it was a fight to avoid going.

My father was even less of a problem. Even though my primary home was with my mother, I still spent quite a bit of time with my father as a kid. I don’t recall explicitly discussing religion with him but I’m pretty certain he was an atheist by the time I was born. I actually credit my father with my eventual skepticism. I didn’t always self-identify as a skeptic but I’m pretty sure I’ve been one since a fairly young age. My father was a big fan of Carl Sagan and I remember watching Cosmos with him many times. We were at the Montreal Planetarium almost every weekend to take in a show or just see the exhibit. He encouraged my interest in science and I think that learning about scientific inquiry and thinking is what made me a skeptic.

I’m grateful to both my parents for not indoctrinating me in religious bullshit. It prevented me from wasting years on religion.

Welcome!

Hello all. I love reading blogs and thought that I would give this a shot. I have a wide variety of interests so the posts here might cover different topics but I will probably focus mostly on skeptical issues, atheism/religion, and some political commentary. I have a full time job so I will be doing this in my spare time. I am not committing to any posting schedule but will try to put something here at least a few times a week and hopefully keep things interesting. I have only begun to look at all the different WordPress options and widgets so the appearance of this blog might still change and I will be tweaking some of the options over the next little while. Bear with me… I’m still new at this. Let’s see how this goes.