You said this:
it is apparent that *fear* is the source of much of peoples' clinging stubbornly to their comfortable and secure introversion, rather than braving the dangers and potential rejection involved in dealing with others.
I agree with you that fear is the source; of course it is.... and rightly so. But not necessarily for the reasons you suggest, which is that the loner automatically has to feel inferior to the world and hides because of it. It is actually possible that a person could come to judge society as inferior, and beyond that, even dangerous... and hence their fear -- their legitimate fear. (Guess where I get this identification of perspective from.)
And rejection? Who should fear rejection, except those who do not know what they really stand for, and how they actually exude that without knowing it? For it is precisely those sorts of people who can feel "rejected"...
Let me use an example: an optimist who actually knows that he or she is an optimist and that such an attitude radiates like sunshine from him- or herself at all times, would never feel "rejected" by a group that he or she could easily identify as a klan of pessimists. That person would know that the group did not desire him or her as a member, because the sort of person that he or she really is, is easily obvious to the members of that group.
In such a case, such a person would automatically interpret their not clique-ing with that group as a blessed and welcome incompatibility or immiscibility, but never a "rejection", in the sense that it is a valid indictment of some universal inferiority of their character. Only someone who lacks the training to see the big pictures in life, could feel "rejection".
My introversion is not desired; I suppose I am actually an extrovert who is weary of not having enough peers to associate with, and I avoid the tar baby-dotted minefield that I see as most of the human race... I suppose you could call me a voluntary or precautious introvert.
This is in sharp contrast to what I'll call involuntary or exiled introverts, who are really extroverts filled with a scornful rage that they have seemingly been judged not good enough for some social group. These are the shunned members of society, who have no choice but to be alone.
The exiled introvert is typically the one you hear about who ends up taking his/her revenge on society through "going postal". What's interesting is that those people frequently get described by the popular press as being dangerous merely because they are "loners".... but they aren't, really. They are actually stifled extroverts, but extroverts who long to be worthy of fitting in, and who lash out, out of frustration and/or "payback". This incomplete and misconceived view of loners gives voluntary loners a bad name, untruthfully.
To me, these people are so inverted and tragic... I honestly feel profound pity for anyone who can look at mainstream society and actually appraise him- or herself as inferior to it, and wants to get in!
I mean, admittedly, very often these people are rather goofy-looking or acting, I suppose. But when you put aside the foolishly weighty dimension of the purely superficial... for Rand's sake, how can you actually envy the members of mainstream society... people whose every micro-decision is not based on the want to achieve a life of objective self-pride and comfort, but is instead based on the categorical imperative to not significantly deviate from the mean in any way!!!
Now, that -- to me -- is the tenth circle of Hell. Thus, I am a voluntary introvert.
(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 10/27, 9:32pm)