Ok, who’s scared of spiders?
It’s ok to admit it… most of us are. It’s deeply ingrained in our psyche.
I’m lucky to live in the UK. There are no indigenous dangerous spiders, but …..
Autumn is well and truly here, and (dread of dreads) so are
‘The Spider Hordes’..
encamped all over the garden, and emerging from dark lairs in the furthest recesses of our old Victorian house.
I’m quietly sweeping leaves in a shady corner of the garden, when my face brushes up against an unseen web and suddenly I’m haring about madly, brushing bits of half-digested fly from my clothes, and fixed with a creeping horror that the resident spider might now be enmeshed in my hair. (Eurgh!!)
Sentinels of mint and lavender pots are stationed by my back door (I’m told they keep spiders out. I’ll try anything.)
Coming down to the kitchen late at night, I turn the light on, and there it is…. the Arnold Schwarzenegger of arachnids – a hench, black, obscenely large house spider, flexing his hinged legs at me. My heart lurches. I feel sick.
Now, let’s face it….I am GARGANTUAN compared to this spider.
There is no sense or reason in my response, but hey! Who’s the one doing a fairly good impersonation of a banshee? (Hint: Not the one with eight legs).
Decades of superstition, horror movies and cultural repulsion underpin my instinctive reactions.
Reason and years of education go out the window.
The Reptilian Brain runs amok.
The good news however is that I’m getting better at dealing with spiders.
I’ve got this nifty little bug catcher that they can’t see coming.
It traps even the biggest spiders and releases them safely into the (neighbour’s!) garden.
I no longer abandon an entire room for weeks (as I once did) just because a spider takes up lodging. (and without paying rent!)
I’m braver not because I’ve had therapy for arachnophobia, (helpful as that can be), but because I’ve forced myself to observe them and their habits. I’ve realised that they’re actually quite helpful (getting rid of flies etc), and that however much my stomach turns when I see them, they really won’t harm me.
I’ve got to know them. The reality, not just the myths. I’m learning to live with them, and not give in to the stereotype. I’ve realised that fear often gives way in the face of knowledge.
(And of course I also have the nifty bug catcher!)
Ok, but this is a blog about introverts – so what have spiders and Introverts in common?
Well, quite a bit it seems.
We (like spiders) like to disappear off regularly to our hidey-holes. We don’t tend to hang about in gangs (I’m not sure what a ‘gang’ of spiders would look like, but I don’t think it would be pretty). Of course we don’t usually eat flies or possess eight legs, but analogies can only go so far ….
But, like spiders, there are preconceptions around Introverts out there too, making us seem ‘dangerous’.
You don’t have to look very far to find them either.
Ever noticed how often media reporting of some terrible crime cite the perpetrator as a ‘loner’? Someone who ‘kept to him (or her) self’, ‘quiet’ ‘withdrawn’.
“It’s always the quiet ones …..”.
You get the picture..
The (erroneous) reasoning goes something like this…
Serial killers = loners, keep themselves to themselves, withdrawn
Introverts = (As above)
Ergo – all serial killers are introverts, therefore all introverts must be …. you got it!
Serial killers in training.
it’s simplistic reasoning sure, but it’s simplistic logic that breeds prejudice.
It’s faulty logic for so many reasons.
Not all killers are introverted anyway. Some are, some aren’t. There is no correlation between personality preference on the MBTI scale and a tendency to kill.
The type of withdrawal exhibited by some who have committed atrocities is often a symptom of paranoia and deep-seated mental health problems … very different from the introvert’s love of and preference for quiet spaces to think and incubate ideas. Superficially, They may look similar but the roots are very different.
Introvert or ‘thinker’ stereotyping goes way back too. Enter Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’. The conspirator Cassius is ‘a dangerous man’ because ‘he thinks too much’?
It seems to many of us that those who opt out of thinking are generally far more dangerous for our civilisation than those who question, analyse and research honestly.
Sadly, history throughout the ages testifies to the fear, suspicion and paranoia that ‘thinkers’ can generate around ideologies that feed on ignorance and prejudice.
Such stereotyping needs to be countered wherever we find it. We need to reclaim the term ‘introvert’ as simply (and only) a personality preference, not a pathology.
We have to strip it of its darker undertones.
I might return to this in a future post…. in more detail, and more seriously, but for now … I’d love to hear your thoughts or stories.
What kind of introvert stereotyping makes your hackles rise? Do you find it ‘dangerous’ or just mildly irritating?
How do YOU challenge it? Share your thoughts in the Comments!
Meanwhile, If you’re stuck for an idea for the Halloween fancy dress party this year….(you’ve done all the ghosts and ghouls and zombies and vampires…)
This year, why not go as the scariest thing on the planet…
‘Til next time,