Type Bigots: The Scourge of the MBTI Community
Before people learn about the MBTI, they tend to have an innocent bias against other types. For example, I used to believe that everyone was an INTP (like me). It was just that everyone else failed at it.
From my biased perspective, the Artisans were INTPs without enough self control, the Idealists were INTPs who let their emotions get in the way, and the Guardians were INTPs who cared too much about what other people thought of them. How was I to know any different? Other people's motivations were a mystery to me.
Most of us start off with an inborne bias whether we know it or not. The bias may be something we just instinctively believe, i.e. "Thinkers don't care about others," or "Feelers are weak." Or perhaps we have had a bad brush with an individual of a certain type, i.e. a nasty boss, a cheating girlfriend, or an unloving parent. American culture has built in biases that say all males ought to act like ESTJs and all females ought to act like ESFJs. Other cultures and subcultures have their own preferred types. Bosses tend to hire people who share their own personality type. Yet although most people are unconsciously type-biased, this doesn't actually make them type bigots; they simply don't know any better.
But what happens when they do learn better?
Enter the MBTI. A knowledge of type can do one of two things for you:
- It can help you to understand other people, rid yourself of unconscious prejudice, and accept others with their strengths and weaknesses.
- It can help you to understand how much you hate and despise entire swaths of the population.
The latter people are known as "type bigots." They don't see themselves as bigots, of course--true bigots never do. Rather, they genuinely believe that they now have a real, scientific, expert-acknowledged basis for their devaluation of part of humanity. The MBTI merely confirms their innate conviction that they are superior and others are inferior.
For example, it is common in internet type communities to hear people make sweeping generalizations such as "My type is smart and other types are dumb" or "I can't stand how arrogant type X is." Such malicious statements are often clothed in justifying statements and examples from the bigot's personal life "proving" that all people of type X are innately flawed (dumb, arrogant, whiny, cruel, weak, unfaithful, boring, anal retentive, boneheaded, clingy, mentally ill, useless, etc). If a person of type X shows up and says, "Heeeey, I'm not like that," it won't make a dent in the bigot's convictions. They'll simply shrug it off with, "You must be an exception," or "You must be mistyped." And so they plug their ears to examples that don't fit their preconceived paradigms. To the bigot, the action of one bad person stands for every member of that type, just as the bad deed of one Mexican "proves" that all Mexicans are bad. The type bigot won't care in the slightest that they have labeled person X as inferior, hurt their feelings, and made them question their worth in the world. And yet these same people will self righteously decry the ill treatment of minorities because it makes the poor folks feel inferior, hurts their feelings, and makes them question their worth in the world. "I'm just telling it like it is," states the type bigot proudly. Don't be deceived--a type bigot and a real bigot produce exactly the same hurtful effects using exactly the same tactics: demeaning insults, exclusion of those unlike themselves, and blind refusal to see any good in the despised parties.
Bigots also don't believe in poor type development. They believe that all people of a certain type, whether healthy, unhealthy, good or bad--are all the same. They will trot out the standard two or three examples from their personal life ("My heart was broken by type X three times") and vent their wrath and contempt upon those who share the offenders' type. And so the hated type in question becomes a synonym for everyone that they dislike in real life. True, the reasons for disliking the individuals in question may be entirely valid, but then the bigot makes a blanket declaration like, "People of type X are cheaters." It won't matter to them that the offenders were evil/poorly developed examples, because this would actually imply that the bigot has bad judgment or picks losers. Rather than admitting that they are a poor judge of character, the bigot says, "No! They weren't poorly developed! I was right in trusting them with my heart--but then they betrayed me! They're a type X and that's just how they all are. I'll never trust a type X again." It's much easier and more pleasant to blame other people rather than recognizing that internal issues are causing external problems. It's true that evil is expressed uniquely in every type. But we call those individuals "evil type X" or "poorly developed type X," not just "type X."
Another thing that type bigots do is to stroke their own egos by sneeringly comparing their type's strengths with the opposite type's weaknesses. There is no harm in comparing our natural gifts and shortcomings with those of others; we can learn from such things and better support each other's weak spots. But it is wrong to make these comparisons in an unkind or arrogant spirit. The type bigot privately believes that the more others are demeaned, the brighter they themselves will shine. Thus they seek to debase those whose talents and strengths do not match their own by painting the others' inabilities in blackest colors. Never mind that such comparisons leave the wounded party feeling excluded, unwanted and inferior. All that matters is that the type bigot gets to feel wonderful about their own special talents and gifts.
On the internet, the people who bear the brunt of type prejudice tend to be Sensors and Extraverts, because the internet type community is composed mainly of Introverted Intuitives. In the real world, the people who bear the brunt of (mainly oblivious) type bigotry are Intuitives and Introverts, because the real world is composed mainly of Extraverted Sensors.
Since we're on the internet, let's focus on the problem of internet-based type bigotry. Many Introverted Intuitives hanging out in online communities are particularly susceptible to becoming bitter against Extraverted Sensing types. This is because INs suffer most from the unconscious prejudice of real world Extraverted Sensors, and they may feel they are justified in striking back, like a child who gets to hurt the big bad bully at last. What this amounts to is basically reverse racism, and while it is understandable, it is never acceptable. Seemingly kind introverted Idealists and seemingly fair-minded introverted Rationals will both alike stoop to racist tactics, all the while believing that their behavior is justified by their suffering. Indeed, there is a strong element of the self righteous, hypocritical Pharisee in all type bigots. They wash their hands in perfect purity as they decry other types' sins, and remain convinced of their own humble superiority.
The opposite of a type bigot is an educated, compassionate realist who embraces the spirit of the MBTI.
The spirit of the MBTI emphasizes understanding, acceptance, and a balanced view of our weaknesses as the counterparts of our strengths. Furthermore, it affirms the dignity and worth of every human being rather than dividing people up into superiors and inferiors. The MBTI acknowledges that bad people come in all types, but it insists that poor type development is not the same thing as a bad type. This philosophy is not political correctness or "everyone's a winner." It is reality and basic decency.
We can use the MBTI to become better people and overcome our weaknesses, or we can misuse it to hurt a lot of folks' feelings and abase ourselves by playing the part of neo-racists. We're better than that. Let's lift people up, encourage them, and make the type community a welcoming place for all types. Let's treat other types in the spirit of the MBTI!
7 Ways To Combat Type Bigotry
- Call type bigots on their rudeness, prejudice, and inflammatory remarks. If someone's spouting off insults about another type, say, "I know you don't realize it, but you're acting like a type bigot. Here's a link to an article that will make you a nicer person."
- Refuse to encourage people who make broad, negative judgments against other types...no matter how many sob stories they may tell.
- Condemn those who would glorify their own type's strengths by scorning other types' corresponding weaknesses.
- Emphasize that while poor development is expressed uniquely in each type, this does not imply that everyone of that type is unhealthy or evil. Pound this difference home to those who want to believe that a few bad eggs are the same as an entire rotten carton.
- Encourage and support others who take a stand against such jerkish behavior.
- Boycott discussions where the entire point is to put down other types.
- And always make sure that your own words are balanced, kind, fair and given in the spirit of the MBTI. Thank you!