Is social awkwardness suddenly cool?

socially_awkward

It seems to me that Millennials like to tell everyone how socially awkward they are, even when it doesn’t really apply. I don’t think it’s false modesty and I don’t think a majority of this younger generation has Aspergers, Avoidant or Schizoid Personality Disorder, or Social Phobia.

No, I think they think being socially awkward is cool. Maybe it’s just that people who frequent Internet forums or write blogs are more introverted, but I think there’s more to it than that.

Take my daughter. She’s the opposite of me in many ways. She’s never been shy. She always made friends easily. She was always invited to all the parties and the popular and cool kids always liked her. She always knew what the latest catchphrases meant and seems to know about fashion trends before they’re really mainstream.

It’s true that over the past year or two she’s become a little quieter and is less likely to go out with her friends or out to parties, but I think that’s because she’s a little older now and is engaged to a guy who’s more introverted than she is and likes to hang around at home.

The other day she wrote a new description of herself on her Facebook profile, which announced to the world that she was socially awkward. But she isn’t. Does she just see herself as socially awkward when she really isn’t? Or is social awkwardness the new cool?

I wonder about that because for the past few years, being an “Aspie” seems to be a kind of badge of honor for Millennials. I think they think being an Aspie makes them seem smarter. It’s true that many people with Aspergers are very intelligent, but not really more so than the general population, and there are dumb ones too, just as there are dumb neurotypicals. But Aspies, no matter what their intelligence level, are known for their social awkwardness. So if being an Aspie is cool, maybe that extends to social awkwardness being cool too.  I think movies like The Social Network, which glorify geekiness, might play into this trend too.

I sure wish social awkwardness was cool when I was my daughter’s age, because I really am socially awkward and have always been that way. Maybe I would have been regarded as cool and that would have been good for my low self esteem.

I think the meme I posted above might prove that my suspicions are correct!

My brilliant friends also have Aspergers

Gale Molinari http://www.galesmind.com just wrote an amazing article about her Aspie friends, where she points out the ways Aspergers has made these two women even better friends to her than they might otherwise be.

It’s so wonderful to see someone write about the positive aspects of Aspergers and how this “mental disorder” gives its “victims” a depth and understanding and focus neurotypicals do not have.

There is a growing community of people with Aspergers who have started an “Aspie rights” movement who’s aim is to get Aspergers removed from the DSM and psychiatric and medical literature as a mental illness and also lobbies for it to stop being considered a handicap, disability, or even a form of mental retardation (which its more severe forms are often confused with). Aspies are not retarded. They also lobby for a more Aspie-friendly world, where for instance, instead of a face to face interview for a job, another kind of application system, such as a Instant Message interview or a written essay can better serve an Aspie applicant and show a potential employer their true talents.

Many if not most Aspies have brilliant minds and high intellectual capacity but can do little or even nothing with their minds because in order to get ahead in the western world (things apparently are easier for Aspies in places like Japan, which doesn’t rely on social gregariousness and aggression), a person must have great social skills and the ability to “think on their feet,” “network” and “schmooze” with higher ups–and always know the right thing to say at the right time.

Aspies have difficulty doing these things, and can come off as awkward, weird, lacking affect, painfully shy, lacking empathy (see my rant about THAT!), or even “slow,” so they are often overlooked for promotions or higher level work. Many people assume because they don’t communicate well verbally and sometimes seem lost in their own world, that they are stupid. But that is just one big fat lie.

Even low functioning people with autism –the ones who have to be institutionalized and cannot care for themselves (and are what most people still think of when they think of autism)–are probably extremely intelligent–but have focused ALL their attention and thinking on ONE OR TWO THINGS. They may be focusing so intensely on their topic of fascination and encyclopedic knowledge (the so-called “idiot savant” phenomenon) to the point they literally are not living in the physical world and must be cared for by others.

Higher functioning people with autism (Aspies) still tend to focus intensely on things and can become obsessed (to a point neurotypicals find weird or unhealthy) with whatever fascinates them. They hate to be interrupted by outside things or people when mentally engaged in their interests or hobbies. But since their autism is much less severe, they can still attend to the outside world if they must. But they aren’t very good at it and prefer not to.

Most Aspies were also bullied as children due to their differences and lack of ability to socialize the way others do (and their high sensitivity), and may have been bullied by their own families (especially if, as I did, they had one or more narcissistic parents or siblings) and frequent bullying can destroy any self esteem a child with Aspergers may have, making things even harder for them when they try to get a foothold in the professional world as adults. Studies have shown that high self confidence is a far better indicator of adult success in life than high intelligence is. Ever wonder why your boss is stupider than you are? Maybe he just likes himself more than you like yourself. This is why narcissists (except the needy type, who thrive on pity and handouts) usually do so well in the working world (though they fail miserably on the relationship/family front).

But I digress.

Some of the most brilliant people in history have had Aspergers (Einstein himself) and were thought to be unintelligent as children because of their slowness in learning social skills. Einstein didn’t talk until he was 3 and his teachers thought he was retarded. Anyway, my point is, because of the Internet (on which Aspies thrive–more so than in the physical world; see my article “Aspies Rule the Internet”), Aspergers is slowly losing its status as a mental illness and being recognized as a variation, much like LGBT was considered a mental illness as recently as 1973, but now hardly anyone thinks of it that way anymore, even people who are opposed to it.

Read on!

galesmind

Aspergers girl

Aspergers another form of autism is not well understood. Because people with Aspergers can have trouble communicating they can be assumed to be unintelligent and strange. The exact opposite is true. Because of social media I have had the pleasure of meeting two wonderfully talented women that also happen to have Aspergers. One on Word Press who has been a mentor and great supporter, the other a fabulously talented kind young lady on Facebook. Because of the nature of social media they can be more comfortable and are really able to portray themselves as they truly are without the shadow of preconceived ideas.
asperger bullies
Some of these ideas are hateful, harmful and untrue and also damaging to the psyche.

http://aspergerstest.net/aspergers-in-adults/

Here is a website among many explaining Aspergers syndrome. While Aspies (as they refer to themselves) may have challenges they also excel in other things that take intense concentration and dedication…

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