Releasing the Wild Thing

by Dakota

In a world overrun with technology and social media and constant connections between people, extroversion dominates the social stratosphere. These extroverted people, who gain their energy from interpersonal interactions and high stimulus situations, block out the quieter, more timid, introverted personalities. Introverts gather and build their energy from non-human interactions[1] and therefore create strong relationships with the non-human aspects of their lives.

Introverts tend to have a strong non-human relationship with nature and natural things because of the way they gather energy and, because of this it is not uncommon to meet introverts who often retreat into some kind of natural setting for hours on end. Symbolic interpretive theory would probably look at this nature-introvert relationship from two different perspectives and look specifically at what the introvert’s retreat represents from the different perspectives[2]. To extroverts, this retreat could be interpreted as an exclusion from society; a sad way that introverts deal with the extroverted domination of the world and the fact that they don’t necessarily fit in or aren’t appreciated. To introverts, this retreat represents something beautiful; it is a time of freedom, when the introvert gets to release him or herself from the social world and become their true wild person. For an introvert, this time in nature is a time to recharge their much-needed energy for the return back to the extroverted world.

A practice theorist might argue that this domination of the worldwide social culture by extroverts is hegemony and for the most part, introverts, because of their personalities, conform to the hierarchy of personalities[3]. But within this hegemonic system, introverts definitely find ways to exercise agency. They might perform extroversion in certain social settings, such as a classroom or party. But often introverts push through the cracks of the extroverted domination of culture and express their true selves by retreating to nature. Being in nature then, is a performance of introversion. While introverts are in no way weak or inferior to extroverts, their personalities are not idealized in the social world and due to this they have to find a place where they are able to appreciate their own selves and respect their own needs outside of social interactions. Nature is the place where they can be that person and rebel the hegemony.

Nature is a silent, peaceful, isolating place. These are rather daunting characteristics for extroverts who excel in social situations which make up most of daily life. But for introverts, nature is what they need to recharge and relax even when every part of the extroverted dominating culture tells them it is wrong. Introverts are drawn to nature for the quiet it provides, the seclusion it offers, the anti-social experiences it allows, and the full acceptance it gives to introverts in need of alone time. Nature is where the introvert can be a true wild introvert inside his or her own head and not be judged or downcast by a culture made for extroverts.


[1] Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking. New York: Crown Publishers, 2012.

[2] Lecture, Professor McGranahan, ANTH 2100 Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology, 31 August 2015.

[3] Lecture, Professor McGranahan, ANTH 2100 Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology, 7 October 2015.

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26 Responses to Releasing the Wild Thing

  1. Logan English says:

    I thought this blog was very interesting and brought up many points I had not thought about before. The statement, ” introverts, because of their personalities, conform to the hierarchy of personalities.” was a very different and interesting way to explain why we dont think there are as many introverts as extroverts.Maybe I will try to realize this in every day life and try to make introverts feel okay with being different. -Logan English

  2. Alexander Billing says:

    I found this blog very interesting, particularly because I am able to identify with many of the statements. It was certainly interesting to see the perspective that the introvert’s act of retreating into nature is an act of agency within a extrovert dominated hegemony. This blog post definitely puts all of this into a different light for me.

  3. Morgan Barker says:

    First of all, I thought your introduction was really great and I was already interested in the essay just from the first sentence. Though I am not very introverted myself, I found this post very relatable. I also thought it was interesting that you used introverts and the way they look at the non human, instead of just speaking for yourself. The way you discussed the relation between introverts and having freedom from social media was really moving. Overall, I really liked the essay because it did not feel like the typical blog post.

  4. Elizabeth Williamson says:

    I found your blog very insightful. I was intrigued by your analysis of the types of personalities idealized in the social world. When looking at our general culture and the social structure we have created I agree with what you said that extraverted personalities are idolized. I just want to point out that there is always an anthesis. My family including extended relatives would all consider themselves introverted individuals. I happen to be the black sheep of the family, having an extraverted personality. Even in that little black sheep remark the nature of my family exemplified. Introverted personalities are idolized in my family and as the extravert it is up to me to play with my own agency to conform to their socially approved norms and to find my own crack to express myself.

  5. Francesca DeCarlo says:

    I, as well as what appears to be many other readers, found this article to be incredibly introspective and insightful. I prefer to identify myself as an outgoing introvert, so I absolutely need these free spaces in nature to be alone and derive energy from myself. I love the employment of Practice Theory to analyze this subject. I agree that when we introverts distance ourselves from the public, extroverted world, it signifies a crack within the more common hegemonic system, similar to the women of Bedouin society that we studied in the course. One question or thought I would like to analyze is: what are the forms that introverts choose to express a resistance in the hegemonic system? For the women, it was poetry. What are forms that introverts commonly choose to express themselves and generate energy? Personally, I truly enjoy studying or reading a good book. For others, I know a very popular form of alone-time includes watching Netflix or other television. What are other forms of expression for introverts in nature?

  6. Jack Seaton says:

    I am a strong extrovert, i do not fell comfortable when i have nothing to do or am alone. I personally go out and find things to do and be active which a lot of the time wears me out to the point of complete exhaustion. I never fully understood introverts and why they need their alone time, but the essay above shed light to me on how they recharge themselves. “Nature is the place where they can be that person and rebel the hegemony.” This quote about introverts is very helpful to the understanding, on how introverts work well in a extrovert society.

  7. Orion Felice says:

    Thinking of the introvert personality as “non-human” intrigues me. Personalities are thought to originate from the human mind and are a resulting projection of ones self to other people, hence why the projection of behavior could be considered non-human. I love this perspective. It is not part of the body, but it is necessary to the body. Most introverts in our society are definitely cast-away from the norms; they are seen but never understood. Introverts do have a deeper tie to the innate environment because they do not thrive in the social environments many extroverts need. Nature is the introverts’ chapel. I am curious however for your thoughts on the limits of “nature.” Introverts are slowly beginning to envelop the digital environment, as they are able to communicate with others without physically being present. As society becomes more and more integrated with digital communication will this effect how we view certain personality types as either introverts/extroverts? Could the digital communication environment be the technological “nature” humans have created? Now with this in mind, would this new technological environment be similar to the elements of nature? I really like you essay because you dug into the underlying concepts that come with being an introvert in an extroverted world.

  8. Patrick Ingram says:

    I thought this was a very interesting post. Many of your points make sense, like how introverts would enjoy nature more then being is socially stressful situations. I don’t agree with the statement that nature can be daunting for extroverts though. Im an extrovert and nature is my favorite place to be, alone or with people, and my brother and extreme introvert hates being in nature. I think a love for being outdoors really depends on what the individual finds enjoyable.

  9. Amber Dombroski says:

    This topic is extremely unique and insightful. Your writing is enlightened and you have certainly dived deep into what it means to be an introvert in an extrovert dominating world. I only got a bit confused towards the end because I was so hooked on the struggles introverts face and their relationship with the world and then the essay shifted more towards nature. So I just wasn’t sure whether you wanted introversion or nature to be the non-human topic of this essay. I also agree with a previous students comment that even extroverts can find peace in nature. While I think your thought process is well put together and an interesting idea, it may not apply to every single introvert.

  10. Nicole Mattson says:

    Very interesting essay! While I completely agree that one way in which introverts can recharge is through escaping into nature, I think it is important to realize that this is not the only method people use and that this does not apply to introverts alone. For example, building onto the idea you brought up with practice theory that introverts can push through some of the cracks within the hegemony by retreating into nature, you could also consider some of the other ways in which introverts can resist this primarily extroverted-driven society (at least in America). Some people may recharge by escaping into novels or music, and others may simply refuse to conform to many extroverted social expectations in general. I think it could also be even more interesting to look at how or if other cultures use such labels as “extrovert” and “introvert”.

  11. Anna Bockhaus says:

    As an introvert myself, I truly enjoyed reading you essay. You seemed to grasp the meanings and differences between introverts and extroverts. I thought the way you applied this knowledge to anthropological theories was very well done! Your take on “introverts forming strong relationships with the non-human aspects of their lives” was a very insightful approach that I hadn’t considered before. Very well done!

  12. Molly Mallgraf says:

    I slightly disagree with the basis of this essay. While nature is definitely an escape from society and a place where introverts can feel free; I also feel that social media and technology highly allow this same feeling of freedom and peace for introverts as well. Technology can allow for extroverts to boast themselves and thrive, but it also has an anonymous option to it where introverts can thrive as well. Websites and blogs such as Tumblr allow people to write, post, reblog whatever they feel and allow people to do it completely anonymously. You can create a blog or write a post under any name you please; introverts can hide between the shield of a computer screen and feel free to express themselves without any judgement because of this. The theory correlations make sense and I found this paper thought provoking; I just don’t one hundred percent agree with it!

  13. Sam Freund says:

    Do you think that most anthropologists would consider themselves introverts or extroverts?

  14. Cayleb Langhals says:

    In regards to the hegemonic society where extroverts are the dominant type of person, I would compare this group to the Awlad Ali. According to your analysis, the extroverted personalities are those that dominate the society because of the way that they are the most noticed and, depending on definition, the most successful. In this case, The men of the Awlad Ali society are fairly similar in that they dominate the society. However, the women are the subordinate and lower class of person, which would correspond with the introverts. Agency of women comes through small bits of rebellion in private or through the poems that they sing, and I believe that introverts have a similar form of rebellion. Though they may not directly express their feelings or be as outgoing as an extrovert, they do have other forms of communication that are just as good if not better than extroverts. For example, a conversation about a long, stressful day that an extrovert had would be of little to no importance because it may have been told to many people. However, the same conversation had by a single introvert and one of the relationships they had formed could be considered more valuable because it is not seen nearly as much as an extrovert’s would have been.

  15. Emily Lane says:

    The topic of this essay is very interesting to me, especially because I consider myself a very introverted person. I, too, have noticed that society tends to celebrate/accept a more extroverted way of life in some aspects. It’s easy to feel out of place or like you don’t belong as an introvert. I think you were spot on by saying “Introverts gather and build their energy from non-human interactions”. I spend a lot of time with animals, reading books, playing video games and just time by myself in general. My favorite thing to do is be out in nature, so this argument was spot on as well. I do think that introverts will vary in the ways they like to spend their free time, but I have met many that do like to spend time in nature, too. The way you applied the theories was also insightful.

  16. Paul Fox says:

    I think this blog is great because it addresses something that people are afraid to talk about. I think that no-one is completely introverted or extroverted, but that there are people who feel more comfortable performing in a hegemony, and some who don’t. Sometimes I don’t want to perform because performing may be damaging to another person, emotionally or physically. Sometimes I do perform because I know that it will help me be less shy or introverted.

  17. Evan Mastro says:

    Great essay. Although you make very good points, I would argue that is unfair to say extroverts are a hegemony/ dominates in society. There have been famous historical figures who were introverts but were sill key in influencing society. Great read though, and good use of the theories! I did think your outlook on introverts needing a recharge away from the extroverts was spot on. And nature is a great retreat!

  18. Jason Dietrich says:

    Great essay! I love that you used nature because it certainly is a great way for people to remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of our modern societies. I also feel that the rise of technology, mainly the internet, over the past decade or two has given introverts a whole new medium for interacting with one another. Rather than having to go out and socialize with strangers, something that many introverts are not too keen on, we can simply hop on the internet and enjoy human interaction from the comfort of our own homes!

  19. danisilverstein says:

    Great post! I liked the way you started your essay and I think that the way you began was a great way to really get people interested in your point. I liked how you included points and facts about a simple topic but things that I did not know myself. I feel that using nature as a topic and talking about todays society in relation to the rise of technology was a great way to incorporate certain topics we spoke about in class.

  20. Sarah says:

    Love this post, great structure and content. As an introvert, I understand the need to “retreat into a natural setting for hours on end.” It can sometimes feel exhausting to be around people constantly and the release that nature offers from this is almost medicinal. Living in Boulder, we have so many opportunities to experience nature that I think is wasted by most people. I think that solitude in nature should be welcomed by introverts and extroverts since it can be so good for the mind and body to get away from urban daily life.

  21. Paige Maguire says:

    I really loved the subject you chose to write about, it is intriguing to think about the world in this way: extroverts dominating over introverts as a result of the overload of interactions on social media. I had never thought about it this way before. Being an introvert, I found myself thinking about my behaviors in the past and how often I would retreat outside, maybe go on a walk in nature, when I was feeling overwhelmed by too many people or interactions. I also thought it was made clear how the two anthropological lenses would see this subject. The example of extroverts being hegemonic and the introvert’s escape into nature being their form of agency was a great connection to make.

  22. Jenna says:

    I really like your approach to this topic and your exploration of the introvert-extrovert dichotomy. It seems like a given that the extroverts of the world would rule society with their ability to socialize easily and clear outward show of confidence. However, I recently read a book by Susan Cain titled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. In it, Cain explores the idea of the Extrovert Ideal, much like you do here, but contrast it with the creative and innovative introvert that has an intellectual power unlike that of the extrovert. The ability to internalize, listen, and observe are vital to the thinkers, artists, and engineers of tomorrow.

  23. Patrick Torres says:

    Great writing! What I particularly found interesting was your point about the rise of the extrovert in today’s society. It’s something I have never really noticed, how social media allows extroverts to express themselves in a way that introverts can’t or don’t feel comfortable doing. Extroverts seem to do the things in public that extroverts don’t, which is maybe why they prefer camping over partying. It is an interesting dichotomy in the 21st century that was brought to my attention by this essay, and I don’t think there was this much of a difference between the two in past generations.

  24. Kirsten Holm says:

    It’s interesting, when you think about it, the standards people hold for extroverts and introverts, and yet there are people who fall in the “both” or “neither” category. I also wonder, in certain cultures, is one “type” more desirable than another? Even in the US, the general consensus is that if you have to be one or the other, being an extrovert is somehow better. However, some cultures surely must prefer the humble, quiet, shy, and solitary characteristics of an introvert. This might be an interesting thing to explore to see what cultures create what expectations of people on this way, and perhaps why they value one over the other. But, as I said in the first sentence, things aren’t really so black and white. Do other cultures have more complex terms to describe the differing social types of people? Or perhaps even more simple? Then there could be questions about the social hierarchy. Is a well off person who is an introvert rude to other people? Are the poor people who are extroverts speaking out of line? I’d think social statu might play into it too, and as such people have different standards for the personalities that each class “should” have.


  25. Graham says:

    I absolutely love this essay!! I totally agree with the idea that an extrovert stylized hegemony dominates our society. Were expected to want to go to big social gatherings, or to want to be surrounded by people. Were not supposed to want to be alone, because somehow being alone has equated to being lonely in our society. If you want to be alone, something must be wrong, you must be depressed, or some ailment is bothering you. You are immediately labeled as weird if you like to spend a majority of your time alone and out in nature where it is possible to truly relax and re-center. Were like the creepy hermit people in the woods. If you look at who dominates the economic, political, and entertainment worlds within our culture they all tend to have very extroverted personalities. As a result, that is what has become idealized and viewed as the “correct” way to be. It really aligns with the western view that the alert, busy, always on the move state of consciousness is the “correct” way to be. That however seems to be coming back under scrutiny as medical research has again started to dive back into the practical uses of psychedelics. Though-out history our introverts have been our artists (real artists), our inventors and engineers, our philosophers and poets. In this sense, I would argue that introverts truly drive the development of culture. Even in retreat from that very culture, they gain perspective that those who remain fail to grasp. Upon returning, they bring with them new ideas, finding new cracks within the extroverted hegemony in which to exercise their resistance and influence. I really like what you said about some introverts that take on extrovert roles in certain social situations. These “out-going introverts” or extroverted inverts I believe, are the real game changers.

  26. Atlas Catlett says:

    I thought this was really solid, accurate analysis and usage of the two theories you chose – practice and symbolic/interpretive theory. The bifurcation of symbolic/interpretive theory into two categories coming from both introverts and extroverts was compelling and gave your essay a really comprehensive feel. That being said, I disagree with your assumption that extroverts inherently don’t understand introverts. As something in between myself, I would have liked to see a more unbiased interpretation of the subject. But overall, really great!

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