Since I was only recently tested for high-functioning ASD, I’ve had to do a lot of reflecting on what makes me, me. As a female, I am encouraged to mask the symptoms that aren’t social acceptable, with more pressure to be sympathetic and empathetic, to embrace friendships and avoid aggression.
The thing is, I get along splendidly with guys. To me, they are simple creatures who, unlike females, don’t generally require constant nurturing. Guys will tell you what the problem is so you can fix it, instead of making you keep track of every little detail that could be off. My grandma expressed to me recently that it isn’t socially acceptable for girls to have all guy friends. I don’t understand or accept the importance of having a lot of the same gender as one’s friends, though. I prefer going camping to going shopping, long hikes to pedicures, action movies to rom-coms.
Girls in particular seem to enjoy the social networking, apps, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I don’t know how to use half of those, but I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Our hyper-connected society makes no sense to me. I don’t understand a lot of the grey area involved in interacting with people, making friends, beginning relationships online. Around acquaintances and friends, I’m preoccupied with reading social cues, trying to figure out what body language means, whether or not I’ve offended the person I’m talking to. That’s why I find texting and online communication so annoying: it is nearly impossible for me to read nuances in text, so I tend to take the words at face value.
I think that’s why I prefer in-person interaction to social networking. When you’re looking at someone, they can’t hide what makes them different. They can try to show you their best self, but inevitably you find out things they do that are out of the “ordinary.”
An arcade bar opened recently near my house. I’ve been there a couple of times, and I refer to it as a “90s kid paradise.” I am definitely one for paying attention to social happenings, and this is one of the most fascinating. This arcade is filled with people my age immersed in things we haven’t played since we were five or six such as Skeeball, Pac Man, Mario Kart, pinball, giant Jenga and Connect Four. The TVs play shows and movies that we used to love like old WWE episodes and Space Jam. You don’t stand out if you are obsessed with it—everyone there is.
When you’re at an arcade, everyone exists in their own bubble, just as when people are driving. You are mainly conscious of what directly impacts you, and you forget about what surrounds you. It’s pretty hard to keep up a façade when playing Smash Bros., after all.
Social networking is about that façade. It revolves around being visible to others but only showing what you want them to see. In real life, you can’t change who you are. You can’t put up pictures that only show your good side, where you have an hourglass figure and your makeup is all done. Real life is much harder. I think that is what makes it worthwhile.
“We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all.” ― John Hughes, The Breakfast Club