My fellow ACON blogger Fivehundredpoundpeep, posted this the other day.
From the girl with curly hair…
Aspies are knowledge junkies. We can become Internet addicts because the Internet is like crack for us. I study many things for the fun of it. You all see what I write on this blog but this week, I read about True Crimes in my state, Indian nations in America and Outsider Art.
There was never anything truer than this. In my many years of prowling and posting on the Internet, Aspies do seem more numerous than they do IRL. On a forum I used to be active on, Aspies seemed almost proud to say they were Aspie, as if it’s an advantage on the Internet instead of a liability. But guess what. It just may be!
We do tend to become obsessed with one or two topics at a time and focus intensely on them to the point others sometimes think we are weird (the extreme form of this is the idiot savant phenomenon seen in low functioning people with autism). That’s why I blog! Because if I just talked about the stuff I talk about here IRL as much as I do on my blog, people would be backing away slowly and locking their doors and windows against the crazy woman on the loose.
We read a lot and gain a very deep knowledge of what interests us. We read anything we can about our obsessions until we’re sated or the next obsession takes over. We have good memories and retain new information well. These traits can give us some credibility in whatever topic we focus on in our blogs. I think that’s a good thing. Our obsessing over topics and spending so much time researching and reading about the minutiae of that focused interest may seem strange to neurotypicals, but it’s hurting no one, so why is it a problem?
The Internet is the perfect modality for most people with Aspergers. It allows us to have a platform to talk about our obsessions instead of having to engage in shallow conversation or small talk (which I hate and am very bad at). It even allows us to start a conversation about our pet topic and the metaphysical, meaningful aspects of that topic. People can think we are weird or insane, but we don’t have to deal with those judgmental NT’s face to face. There are plenty more people online who actually like what we have to say and listen to us.
We also have time to think about and refine what we want to say. We’re not required to “think on our feet,” something which is very difficult for Aspies. We don’t have to have a witty comeback for a joke or know exactly the right or appropriate thing to say when confronted by something.
Because our problem isn’t really that we lack social skills. I think for most of us, the problem is that we need time to process an interaction, and you can’t do that in real life social situations. Writing is just as valid a form of social interaction as speaking, and it’s a modality most of us are much better at and even find we can excell at.
The Internet can make us feel more confident. It’s the one thing Aspies have going in their favor that we never had prior to the late 1990s. There’s also more general knowledge about Aspergers and it’s now acknowledged even adults can suffer from it. In the past, Aspergers wasn’t even recognized as a high functioning form of autism. We were just the geeks and dorks and socially awkward outcasts and obsessive crazies of the world. When people used to think of autism, they thought of people so impaired and disconnected from the world they had to live in institutions and have all their needs met by caregivers. They didn’t think of socially awkward geeks and obsessives like me.
Now they do, and it’s because the Internet has given us Aspies a place to talk, to meet others like ourselves, to make friends, to vent and rant, and to protest against the prejudices neurotypicals have against us. We are really more a minority group like LGBT than we are “mentally ill.” (Homosexuality used to be considered a mental illness too–it was finally removed from the DSM in 1973).
The Aspie rights movement thinks of Aspieness as a variation rather than a disorder. We’re only “disabled” because our society isn’t set up to be adaptive to our needs. We are forced to adapt to theirs, and it ain’t easy! The Internet gives us a voice.