When People Don't Appreciate My Honesty as Someone With Asperger's
It is common for people with Asperger’s to only speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Social appropriateness, timing, or relevance of whatever truth or absolute is spoken does not always register with those of us with Asperger’s syndrome. We can be taught things over time, like social rules and intricacies, and also to recognize white lies and sarcasm. Contrary to popular belief, I can take a joke (within reason)! But these things do not always come naturally to us. We express only what we know.
As a woman with Asperger’s and social anxiety disorder, it is much easier for me to express myself via writing. Social media is a very helpful tool for me in terms of socializing and interacting with people. It’s not my only choice for interaction, but has opened up my life to more connections with others, and just keeping up with friends and acquaintances without the sensory overload. But this fact is often overlooked with the growing dependence on social media of people who do not have social barriers or other disabilities.
What is this social media business all about anyway? What does “social” mean to you? If you can’t share the contents of your mind, what else is there? I love to share and explore facts and ideas, and I will often go into great detail about certain subjects. Trivial every day things that others post are entertaining or humorous, and it is not as if I do not like seeing people post those things. But for me to post anything but in intricate detail and with thorough explanation, is often times, dreadfully boring and pointless. My online expressions of myself are oftentimes lengthy to say the least.
Growing up, some people called me “socially retarded” or just plain annoying, like Kimmy Gibler from “Full House” — the obnoxious “friend” nobody really wants around and when they do it is to berate their character. The “r word” is considered derogatory these days and rightfully so. It is used to keep groups of people oppressed and outside the norm. Thus, it is unacceptable to use the word. One would think that that would stop people who are conscious of this fact from implying it. But they still imply it. Why refrain from using a word when you are still going to marginalize and isolate a person anyway?
This is how I see what social media has become; a place, just like in the real world, where people who are socially different are marginalized and isolated. The social nuances in the real world have become the norm in the cyber world as well. It is ironic how this is the case, as interacting on the internet is largely based on text and not spoken words. You can write anything and it can mean anything. Without facial expressions and tone of voice to go along with the text, how do you know what is being said, really? Other than what the text specifically says, in absolute truth?
The truth is, most people can’t handle the truth. That’s why it is not socially appropriate to “say it like it is,” as people such as myself are inclined to do for myriad reasons. Society in general can not handle the truth and does not want to. Does that make us with Asperger’s, the ones who have no capacity but to say the truth, wrong? Absolutely not. So why do people clench their teeth and suck in their breath whenever I do so much as talk about something as trivial as the weather? Why can’t a social media platform such as Facebook be used to express ones ideas via writing? Well it can, but only if whatever is expressed is within society’s limits of what it can handle.
Obviously I am not talking about clearly antisocial, disruptive, violent, rude or hateful behavior. I am talking about simply expressing oneself or one’s interests and not being met with condescending or pitying stares, annoyance or disdain. Can I go on being me, or do I have to continue using filters whenever I am called to express myself, so many filters that my soul dies inside? I feel like I am neither here nor there, stuck in the cracks where I kind of exist, but mostly not, and stuck in the void where no one knows or cares.
Who am I? I don’t know. I feel like I am waiting on society to make up its mind on what is OK for someone to express and what isn’t. In the interim I am waiting in the wings and it is an awfully lonely place to be. I am tired. What will people make of this article? I don’t know and I am not so inclined to care because this is my chance for honest self-expression. But I don’t dare say that in public nor post it on social media. Heaven forbid!
If you can’t fully be yourself wherever you are, who are you supposed to be?
Getty image by Soner Cdem.