What have I… what have I… what have I done to deserve this?

So, every now and then, I’m reminded about how the “autistic community” can be pretty cold and alienating. It can be clique-y. It can push the “uncool kids” to the margins. It can punish those who fail to pass the purity tests. Every now and then, I’m reminded yet again, that the fabled “autistic community” is just that – a fable.

The other day, an autistic individual I follow on Twitter posted something that I found sort of funny, and I responded with an image that seemed to address (in an absurd way) their observation.

Most people I encounter on Twitter are pretty good sports. Even if they don’t find my tweets hilarious (tho’ they often do, and why wouldn’t they? I can be truly hilarious, plus I’m fun and a little offbeat in a refreshing sort of way), at the very least, they click the little “heart thingie” and we all move on.

But with this one autistic individual (and others they are ostensibly good friends with), I got nothing. Crickets. No response. No recognition. Who knows if they even saw it?

Well, whatever. It’s not like I live and die by whether someone likes what I post or tweet or whatever. It’s not like my life revolves around being recognized by this individual – or any other individual, for that matter. I’m autistic. I’m fine on my own.

But we have these little rules about basic online civility that don’t seem to matter much, at times, with some of the people I follow. And I get a distinct “ew! get away from me” vibe from it, like I’m intruding on their timeline or feed or whatever. I’m not invited to the conversation, and they’re not going to encourage me.

It’s not just this one person. It’s others who I know are in their close circle. They’re buddies. And I think they’ve decided they don’t like me. Which is fine. But it’s also surprising, seeing as these are middle-aged adult-like individuals who should really know better about just observing a modicum of civility. Even disingenuous responses help grease the social machinery. And since I know they grew up in “polite company”, I know for a fact, they’re capable of it.

They’ve just decided not to do it with me.

Another autistic researcher whose work I really, really respect, has seen fit to be outright rude to me, when I was actually complementing them on their work. I was literally going out of my way to be supportive, when they were catching all sorts of shit from others about work they’d done which was actually really good.

But no. They didn’t want to hear from me. Smackdown. How rude. I mean, it’s one thing to not understand the bare essentials of politeness, but I’ve seen that person be polite to other people, so I know it can be done. By them.

They just decided not to do it with me.

And then there’s that other really, really prominent autistic activist who attacked me, early one Monday morning, because I’d done something they didn’t agree with at all. Accusations were made. I explained my position and told them no offense was ever intended. But it just seemed to enrage them all the more. Long story short, I lost a halfway decent Monday morning to being unreasonably preoccupied by something I thought I’d done wrong. Logic prevailed, eventually, and I realized that I literally had done nothing untoward, but they were having a bad day and didn’t realize that the thing(s) they were accusing me of…. frankly, I actually didn’t do.

I’m more than happy to take responsibility for stuff I’ve done wrong. I apologize several times a day, minimum, for my screw-ups. But when other people come after me — deliberately, malevolently, with an actual desire to harm me in ways they think I harmed them — yeah, that’s where I draw the line.

I wish I could be the bigger person and cut them some slack, because I do believe they do good work, and they’ve contributed a whole lot to people’s understandings about autistic experience. But no. It’s not gonna happen. I still get shaky, thinking about it. And the last thing I want to do, is be anywhere near that person or their work or hear their name.

Now, I totally get that we autistic folks have a different way of socializing. But sorry (not sorry), being outright rude and obnoxious to others, treating them unkindly, ignoring them, freezing them out, and just being nasty about it… that’s something different. That’s not just a maturity thing. That’s a character thing. And I know for a fact, based on the many autistic people I know, that we are not innately deficient in character, just ’cause we’re on the spectrum.

Sometimes shitty behavior is a choice.

Time to go unfollow some people on Twitter.


7 thoughts on “What have I… what have I… what have I done to deserve this?

  1. I have found lots of “Mean Girls” in the online autistic community.
    Maybe I’m out of line even trying to join a conversation about autism since I’m not autistic myself, just raising my autistic grandson.
    I have found many friends in the autistic community too. I’m not autistic, but I’m nowhere near “normal” either, and my humor and eccentricities fit well with many autistic folks.
    Anyway, I was basically told to shut up and get lost, that I had no business joining in, and furthermore, Ben doesn’t have a place in the Neurodiversity Movement either since he has a greater number of support needs, he belongs to the Disabled Community.
    Very cliquey, very Middle School.
    They did me a favor really. I don’t want to associate with people that rude and exclusive anyway. Life is too short to waste time on jerks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VisualVox

      Yeah… “Mean Girls”. I didn’t want to get gender-specific about it. I’ve seen that sort of behavior across the gender spectrum, but for some reason, it’s harder for me to take from women. It’s just so surprising. It’s not like I need people to like me or love me. Meh – whatever. But basic civility is a bare minimum with me. That whole business about “if you can’t say something nice…”

      I do think it’s unwise to push people away because they don’t pass your inclusion test. I get tired of carving up the world into categories of people, partly because I have no categories that I consistently relate to or that are a 100% “match” for my personality. I have a lot of stuff going on with me, but it varies. And other people who aren’t in a certain category can certainly relate to some of what I experience… while others who fit in the same subgroup as me, simply don’t get things that are fundamental to my world view.

      Life’s too short to push away people who genuinely want to connect — and aren’t doing anyone any harm.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. florence neville

    Ugh, I get this so much! There’s a weird myth around autistics not engaging in social popularity dynamics (there’s probably a proper sociology term for that but you get what I’m saying!) and it’s bullshit! I don’t think it’s deliberate, more of a “this isn’t /you aren’t where my focus is right now. But, their loss!

    Btw, If I ever seen to ignore you send me an “oi!” It will have been accidental. I am shit at managing replies.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VisualVox

      Oh, I know… I think with some people, if they’re late DXed, they think that an autism DX now lets them off the hook for social niceties and whatnot. It doesn’t. If anything, it calls even more attention to the fact that we have to work harder at times. If we choose not to, that’s just not healthy. There are actual official terms for that sort of behavior.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the Pet Shop Boys and that’s a song I’ve listened to sometimes on loop. 😉

    No idea what happened, but yeah, shitty behavior is sometimes a choice. I normally try to understand what people might be going through and give them a break if it’s a one time thing, but especially these days I tend to curate my experience in places like twitter pretty heavily.

    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VisualVox

      Ha! I was thinking someone would catch on the PSB reference. That sort of behavior has been ongoing, over the past few years. Every now and then I come across it. I used to think it was all me, but now I realize… maybe a bit, but not ALL of it is/was me. Some people are just rude. And yeah, curation of experiences in social media is key. Always nice to hear from you 🙂


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