Table of Contents
In recent years, many people have shown a growing concern for introverts and other people that would prefer to stay intentionally invisible. This growing concern has come in the form of many media publications encouraging respectful behavior toward quieter people. Although these new ideas are now widely accepted, most people still agree that at a certain point, everyone should become visible and participate in some way.
Although John Spencer, an experienced middle school teacher and writer, is a strong advocate for introverts, he still requires his students to speak up, stating “I allow students to be uncomfortable… Nobody said learning was supposed to be comfortable.” Many people that stay quiet use their invisibility as a form of protection from embarrassment or other undesirable experiences, which can make encouraging people to become more visible a complicated issue when viewed from an ethical standpoint.
In most cases, though, the benefits of visibility and participation greatly outweigh the safety of staying invisible. Because of this, people that try to be intentionally invisible, whether in school, the workplace, or any other setting, should be helped into the spotlight to become more visible. This will allow them to learn more effectively, succeed at a higher level by participating in group projects, and contribute to society.
Invisibility in Education
Participation in group projects and student visibility in the classroom allows students to learn more effectively. Most experts agree that “[p]ublic speaking is a valuable life skill” for all people, Introverts included (Spencer). With this knowledge in mind, middle school teacher John Spencer teaches his own students in a way that forces them to participate and be slightly uncomfortable, while still respecting his quiet students. Using these techniques, Spencer, and other teachers like him, can help their students become more visible and learn more effectively through participation.
This same idea that student visibility can be beneficial in education is shared by many quiet student as well. For example, an anonomous student requested that his teachers push him to speak in the classroom, stating “[m]ake me talk even if it’s hard for me” (Spencer). Although this student could have stayed intentionally invisible in the classroom, he instead chose to challenge himself, and in doing so, increased the quality of his education. Even though these examples show that participation does have a positive effect on the quality of education, it is important to remember that participation can be very difficult for some students.
Katherine Schultz, the writer of a book on classroom participation, does show strong support for helping students to become more visible, but she also still uses caution when challenging sensitive students to speak up. She suggests that teachers look into “the circumstance that creates the silence or reticence” in quiet students before forcing them to participate, so that teachers can avoid hurting sensitive students (Strauss). Schultz knows the importance of classroom participation, so she encourages teachers to push students to participate and learn more, even when students have good reasons to be quiet. Participation in the classroom allows students to become more visible, increasing their education quality and making their lives better.
Invisibility and Success
Along with aiding learning, being visible can increase the success of quiet people. In a USA Today article by workplace writer Anita Bruzzese, the author claims that introverts can actually succeed at a higher level in the workplace than naturally social people, as long as they share their ideas and contribute to workplace discussion. In the article, Amy Jen Su, the author of a book about quiet members in teams states that “The real development opportunity for… [introverts is] vocalizing their thoughts versus keeping things internal.” She knows that if people choose to be invisible, they will not be able to contribute to ideas, so it is very important that introverts are helped to speak up.
Additionally, the podcast “How to Become Batman” by the publication Invisibilia gives another example of how being more visible can allow for success. The podcast tells the story of Daniel Kish, a blind man and founder of the nonprofit World Access for the Blind. Although 64% of blind people are unemployed, Kish was still able to succeed because he pushed himself to do as well as any non-blind person (“How to Become Batman”). The same goes for people that are intentionally invisible. If they can push themselves to participate, they can be incredibly successful. In conclusion, the evidence above shows that in order to strive for success in any environment, people must avoid invisibility and instead participate.
Invisibility and Contribution
Intentional invisibility prevents people from contributing to society, which is important if people expect to be happy with their lives. Alessandra Orofino, political rights activists and founder of the Brazilian political organization Meu Rio, stated in a TED Talk that “[i]n some American cities, voter turnout was close to five percent” during some of the recent elections. This shows that, when it comes to politics, most Americans do not contribute and instead choose to be invisible. This is unfortunate because “a decrease in… social and civic participation” brings an increase in solitude and unhappiness (Orofino).
This shows the importance of contribution to society, and why people should avoid being invisible. After stating these facts, Orofino comes to the conclusion that we need “decision making of the kind that can change our cities into better places for us to live.” Contributing to political and social decisions will make the world better and the people happier. Not only are the problems with our society’s contribution apparent, but also are the examples of what happens when people do decide to contribute to the decision making process.
For example, an 11 year old girl from Brazil named Bia used technology to influence the decision making process to save her school from demolition (Orofino). This shows how contributing to society by sharing your decisions can be beneficial. Additionally, according to Laura Schocker in a Huffington Post article, there were many other quiet people that made huge contributions by being visible. Among the examples given were people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein. Both of these people had the opportunity to stay quiet, but they instead chose to become visible, and the benefits of their decision to the world are very obvious. This shows that making a contribution to the world is important for everyone, and being visible is necessary for this contribution to occur.
Dangers of Invisibility
Not only does intentional invisibility prevent people from learning, succeeding, and contributing, but it also is unsafe. A fictional example of the dangers of intentional invisibility is given in the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. In the novel, the main character uses his invisibility against others, by attacking people that cannot see him or by stealing power from an electricity company. Although this is a fictional story, the same is true in the real world. According to author Kathryn Schultz in a New Yorker article, “the license to do as we shouldn’t is not just a potential negative side effect of invisibility; it’s part of the allure.”
This means that people that try to be invisible generally have bad intentions and should not be allowed to go unnoticed. This is further shown by the behavior of people on the internet, when no one can see them. “The internet is crawling with trolls, behaving under their virtual cloaks of invisibility in ways most of them would not if they could be identified” (Schultz). Because of this behavior, invisibility can be seen as very dangerous and therefore should be prevented.
The evidence given above shows why quiet people should be encouraged to become visible. Although the recent movement in support of introverts has good intentions, and many of its suggestions should be followed, participation and contribution are also necessary for all people. In order to solve this problem, it is best to find a happy medium between disrespectfully forcing quiet people into the spotlight and not pushing people out of their comfort zones at all.
Many teachers and other leaders, such as Spencer and Orofino, have already put successful programs into place that meet both of these conditions. In his article, Spencer states that “I tailor class participation requirements so that introverts and extroverts alike can thrive.” Using flexible policies like this, people in position of leadership can respectfully help quiet people become more visible, making everyone happier and making the world a better place.