navigating a world which feels like gravity is working in reverse

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  • Category Archives Social Situations
  • Privilege and Virtue

    The further you are away from privilege the more virtue you have to exhibit to get the same amount of reward of one of privilege.  Just image if Trump would have been black and exhibited the same (at least to Christians) immoral behavior.  He would not have had a shot in hell at getting elected.

    It’s bad growing up as well. Virtuous people treat you worse the further you are away from privilege (at least that’s been my and many others experience).  The friendship groups that are accepting often revolve around vices like drinking or drugs.



  • Autism and the Burden of Reciprocity

    Scientists did a study and found that people on the spectrum were rated more poorly by children and adults:

    In other words, Autistic people can’t take all the blame for underdeveloped social skills because non-autistic people actually are actively avoiding us, limiting our access to opportunities to practice being social in real-world situations. The study authors found that Autistic people have every bit as much desire for friendship and human contact as non-autistic people and our UCLA loneliness scores were significantly higher than non-autistic people’s, but our ability to socialize is limited every bit as much by social ostracization from others as it is by our own neurology and the challenges to socialization it can present for us.

    The studies repeatedly underlined the importance of first impressions. A negative first impression held true no matter how much further exposure a person was given to reassess that first impression. But there was one scenario in which the Autistic people left a positive first impression: when people read a transcript of their words instead of seeing and hearing the Autistic people saying those words, observers rated them as more likable and more intelligent. In fact, in the scenario where observers just read the written words of Autistic and non-autistic people, they rated both groups the same. For non-autistic people, the written transcripts were their lowest-rated mode of communication, although only by a small amount. For Autistic people, the written transcripts were their highest-rated mode of communication by a very significant margin.

    I always thought the first impression stuck, I’m glad researchers found this to be true too.  I have a physical disability which makes me look different so that tends to net me bad first impressions in and of itself.



  • society is a poorly engineered structure

    Society is a poorly engineered structure.  Most of the weight is borne by those least able to support it.  Christians like to call society broken but I believe it is working perfectly.  It just seems broken to those of us far from privilege.  Those in power could make society more just and fair but they don’t because that would make it worse for them.

    Christians are the most scornful of you for the things they are the least helpful with.  They won’t help you find a job but they will treat you like you are invisible for not having one.  They don’t offer programs to help with healthcare but scorn you for taking aid from the government.



  • Getting a Job

    The conventional means of getting a job will almost never work for those on the spectrum:

    Unless you’re lucky and land a job right out of school your employment history is likely not going to have contiguous periods of full-time employment.  When you apply online to jobs, resumes without contiguous periods of full-time employment get winnowed out right away, usually by the software itself.  If they can’t tell you may get a phone interview where they will ask you more directly about your employment history.  Keep in mind hundreds, if not thousands, of people are applying for the same job as you so they can be picky.

    Assuming you do land an interview your chances are generally dead on arrival.  Within the first minute of a job interview the interviewer has decided whether you are worth hiring.  I had someone who is now a CEO tell me this and read it in a prominent marketing book Selling the Invisible.  People call this “trusting their instinct”.  And naturally this “instinct” is informed by their prejudices.  If you are on the spectrum they are going to sense something is off about you right away.  They’ll rationalize that you aren’t a good “cultural fit”, a political correct way of saying they only hire neurotypicals and generally people just like them.

    What about unconventional means?

    What they generally mean by this is networking.  Never eat alone, always be having lunch with someone who is high status that can advance your career.  The problem is, networking is the thing those on the spectrum are very poor at.  This is particularly true because, in my experience, the high status people are the ones the most rejecting of those on the spectrum (or anyone different for that matter).  I can carry on a conversation with an Uber driver or an accounting major fine but anyone high status will be cold and shut down.

    What can companies do to hire more people on the spectrum?

    They can realize that the only word that means anything to us is PLACEMENT.  Teaching us interview skills is like teaching someone how to go up against an AK-47 with a butter knife.  If companies are truly serious about diversity hiring they’ll designate a point person that people far from privilege can go to to circumvent the traditional resume/interview process (someone on the spectrum applying online with a less than stellar employment history will just get their resume thrown out by the software).  I know this seems unfair but it’s also unfair that so many people on the spectrum with skills and smarts languish un or underemployed.



  • Autism in Love film and status

    I highly recommend a PBS Independent Lens documentary called Autism in Love (you can watch it online).  It follows a few people on the spectrum who (like pretty much all of us) are looking for love.  Some of them are in relationships, others are not.  Even for the ones who were successful by society’s standards it was a lot of effort to keep communication lines open and make the relationship work.

    The person I identified with the most was the lower functioning young man who was unsuccessful in finding love.  In one part of the film he was keenly aware of his low social status, raising his palm saying “they’re up here” and lowering it down and saying “I’m down here”.  Which brings me to a truth about a lot of people on the spectrum.  On a micro level we might not be aware of everything going on (as we generally have a poor ability at picking up on social cues) but on a macro level, specifically with things that pertain directly to us, very little escapes us.  This is because macro level things are drilled into our heads over and over again so even if we miss 95% of the social cues, the 5% we do catch we catch again and again.  To go back to the example in the film, those of us with low status (of whom I am one) are overly aware of it.



  • Working Class Retreat from Church

    Finding that less educated people’s church attendance has dropped off more than their more educated counterparts:

    In the 1970s, a new study finds, half of white Americans with a high school education attended church at least monthly. Now only 37 percent do. In contrast, 46 percent of highly educated white Americans attend church, only a 5 percent drop from the 1970s.

    Lack of a steady job might also cause people to shy away from a church community, Wilcox said.

    No shit Sherlock.  I have firsthand experience of being treated badly at a church for not having a job.  People aren’t shying away from the church community, the church community is ostracizing them.  We aren’t leaving the church so much as the church is leaving us.



  • Hated at One’s Job

    Another good thread on the Aspergers subreddit about someone who people treat poorly at their job.  There are some really constructive responses.

    I never had trouble being treated bad in a vocation situation until I volunteered at Calvin in the summer of 2011.  The dynamic was not in my favor there being the old guy doing the same work the college kids were doing but as unpaid (this experience has scared me away from working in an office ever again).  In other vocational situations I was always on the level of my compatriots whether being paid or volunteer.



  • Social Skills

    From a post on my other blog:

    Social Skills: Again this term does a poor job of describing what goes on in the real world.  Take the term woodworking skills.  It describes someone’s ability to form good things out of wood.  The point here is the wood isn’t resistant, it is pliable and always stays the same.  In social interactions there are all kinds of feedback loops going on.  If there is something wrong with you the loop generally starts out negative and continues along on that path (as an individual with a physical disability and mental illness I experience this daily).  A better word for “social skills” would be social traction because that is a more accurate and holistic way of describing what goes on.



  • Autism is Beautiful

    Autism is Beautiful blog post:

    It’s okay to have your own sensory needs. Be comfortable. Don’t force yourself to dress a certain way because it’s what the world expects you to be like. If you’re the most comfortable in yoga pants and a t-shirt, rock it! Most comfortable in tunics and leggings? You do you!

    My little sister (who is smarter than me) said the hardest thing to do is be normal.  Which is very funny thing to admit given we live in a culture that plays lip service to self-expression and individuality while exhibiting and enforcing the polar opposite.  Yes sexual mores have loosened since the 50’s but everything else has pretty much tightened.



  • used on you

    There is often a very easy explanation for the beliefs one uses to navigate this world of ours.  How beliefs are used.  People figure if someone is using a belief on them it must be good enough for them to use.  A few hypothetical examples:

    Susie is a 23 year old college graduate who is 30 pounds overweight.  She double majored in math and psychology.  Like many women her age she has body image issues and doesn’t have the metabolism needed to become slender.  She has seen therapists before who told her she was fine just the way she was but she called bullshit on them.  In conflict here is business to business (b2b) verses and business to consumer (b2c) psychology.  Susie absorbed the messages from advertisements vetted by b2b psychologists and felt their direct and indirect (mediated by male and female peers) effects of a thin-obsessed culture.  For Susie poor body image isn’t an anomaly, it’s something handed down deliberately with the aid of b2b psychologist by a culture obsessed with thinness.  A b2c psychologist would stick the pejorative “insecure” label on her.  This same therapist might tell her she has innate worth regardless of her weight but outside the psychologist’s office this belief is not being used on her.  So she doesn’t use it.

    Bill is an unemployed 26 year old who had to move back to a town with no jobs to take care of his dad who had a stroke.  His parents are religious and are always trying to get him to go to church.  Bill goes to a few services and the church talks about how there is hope for everybody, even the least of these.  However the people in the church treat Bill like he’s invisible.  They use conjecture to assess his future and come to the conclusion that he has none.  Bill assumes rightly that if conjecture is ultimately what’s going to be used on him, it’s worth him using.  Bill tunes out all the blathering about hope and stops going to church.

    Nathaniel is a 28 year old working at a small local animal rights nonprofit.  Every day he’s writing grants and soliciting donors.  He wanted to work in a nonprofit to get away from the dollar driven world but it just didn’t work out.  When he gets home he’s greeted with oodles of mail from places he’s donated to once asking for more money.  Eventually Nathaniel succumbs to the idea he was running away from so hard, that money is the most important thing.