Reclaiming the Right to Non-participation


It is a perversity of modern society to feel obliged to apologize and explain one’s reasons for doing or not doing something. If you ever catch yourself feeling ‘bad’ that you are not going to a certain event or if you feel too afraid to ‘get out’ of some social entanglement that you don’t wish to keep then you may be experiencing the negative effects of the Rules of Social Extroversion.

When you really think about it, isn’t it strange to feel so restrained by an aggressive social courtesy that seeks to shame those who don’t participate? Shouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that adult human-beings should be able to take responsibility for their own feelings and be able to self-regulate their disappointments when others don’t do what they want? As children we are taught by our parents (hopefully) that disappointment is a part of life and must be accepted, along with the realisation that we have no control over what others do.


Neither introversion or extroversion are, in themselves, good or bad. They are similar to one’s sexual orientation – more an inherent trait than a choice. So it is troubling, for obvious reasons, when one of these attempts to change or suppress the other. Nothing good comes from suppression or oppression – the history of humanity abundantly confirms this.

Perhaps this modern imbalance is partly due to numbers – is it safe to assume that there are more extroverts than introverts in the world and that, perhaps, it has always been this way? Even so, does this account for the growing trend of introversion vilification and aggressive extroversion?

Perhaps the glorification of extroversion, and militant denouncement of introversion, has some roots in the general trend of the age –  the march towards conformity, distraction and consumption. As a global community, we have been coached and shaped, manipulated into an obsession with vanity, status and consumable goods. We are now told by our societies that introverted and anti-social tendencies are signs of mental illness and dysfunction, that it is dangerously abnormal to question, to think for ourselves and to seek our own definitions, pursuits and pleasures.


To see how pervasive the sentiment of anti-introversion truly is these days merely requires one to read the diagnostic criteria of current mental health practices. The listed symptoms alone are enough to conclude that every human-being alive could potentially be treated for some kind of ‘mental health disorder’. If any and all ‘anti-social’ behavior is considered as ‘dysfunction’, then we have a serious problem.

So in the spirit of ‘positive retaliation and re-balancing’ I offer the Right to Non-participation. The underlying philosophy of this technique is simple – that as an adult human being you have the inherent right to ‘not participate whenever you want, without needing to apologize or justify yourself’. This means that the responsibility, regulation and ownership of how anyone else feels in reaction to your decision is theirs and theirs alone.

And when you get right down to essentials, this is how it is supposed to be.

nonparticipation book image:

introversion badge source:

ICD 10 book image:


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