Nothing Legitimizes a Protest Like a Counter-Protest

Please stop counter protesting.

I don’t care what issue were talking about. I don’t care what side of it you’re on. I don’t care how big or small it is. From the current Pro- vs anti-Trump insanity down to whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, the only correct response to any protest is simply to witness the fact that it’s happening. Watch, listen, learn, marvel (quietly) at the abject stupidity of the protestors, whatever else you need to do is fine, but above all DO NOT COUNTER-PROTEST!!!!


Now, if you already agree with this, good for you. Please spread the word.

If you disagree, well, yeah…good luck with that. Hopefully, you’ll figure it out at some point.

Autism Diagnosis as Scapegoat

One way to oversimplify what it means for me to be autistic is to say that I’m like a “misunderstanding machine”, by which I mean that I am prone to having misunderstandings with people, and this to a much greater degree (i.e. “clinically significant”) than is true for (so-called) normal people. These misunderstandings can take two basic forms, with mixtures common: in the first place, I am prone to misunderstanding others, but in the second place I am also prone to causing others to misunderstand me.

Now, however tempting it may be to reassure me here that “everybody has misunderstandings”, I must respectfully ask you to resist that temptation. One of the potential benefits to both of us of my ASD (autism) diagnosis is that it gives us a handy scapegoat that we can and should (in my opinion) use to mitigate and hopefully resolve these misunderstandings. Whenever such misunderstandings arise, instead of wasting time and energy spinning our wheels in the clay of “whose fault is it?” we can instead simply agree that “autism is a bitch” and focus more productively on resolving the misunderstanding.

I hope that’s useful! 🙂

Image by Hanna333 from Pixabay

Validate Unto Others…

If you’re interested in the general topic of (in)validation, I recommend What is… Invalidation by blogger Ashley L. Peterson, a.k.a. ashleyleia. Here I mainly want to declare my commitment moving forward to strongly favor validation over invalidation in my interactions with other people. In the last couple of years, thanks to lots of therapy, self-observation, and introspection, I have come to recognize two lifelong habits that I have and which I can see now have been ultimately self-defeating:

  1. I have a compulsion to correct people whenever they say or do something that I think is either factually incorrect, self-harming, or wrong in some way (morally, legally, etc.). I have come to see that despite my best intentions, this kind of other-corrective behavior is usually experienced as invalidating, annoying, hurtful, etc., that it is mostly ineffective, often counter productive, and is essentially an invitation for the other person to invalidate me in return, and is generally corrosive to the relationship.
  2. Whenever someone invalidates me in some way, I tend to respond first by feeling hurt, rejected, anxious, etc. and then I often try to defend myself by invalidating the person who invalidated me, often by getting angry at the person. This in particular has been highly destructive to all kinds of relationships, especially those with romantic partners, bosses, and work colleagues.

Yup. That’s about the size of it for now. Not quite sure how any of that might be useful for you, but I’m putting it out there just in case.

Let me know what you think! 🙂

Image Credit: niekverlaan on Pixabay

So, You’ve Just Been Diagnosed: Please Learn from My Mistake!

I first learned that I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) back in 2016 at the age of 53. At first I was skeptical, but I eventually came to see that my doubts were mostly grounded in my own ignorance regarding autism, and somewhat grounded in the fact that many autistic people have huge challenges that make my own seem quite trivial in comparison. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have an ASD, or that my autistic neurology doesn’t create significant challenges for me, but it does mean that I’ll probably never be the subject of any Oscar-winning movies.

For the record, I am also visually impaired, but I don’t need my books written in Braille. My eyeglasses work just fine.

In any case, the last two years of my life have been intense and overwhelming — not just for me but for my family as well — and in retrospect I think a lot of that chaos arose from a single assumption I’d made early on and which turned out to be false: that my medical diagnosis was some sort of credential that automatically entitled me to things like sympathy and respect from others.

I called it my “license to weird”. It was a joke, of course, but only partly so. In my mind I really thought I could just go around telling people that I was autistic and they would automatically know what that meant, accept it as true and subsequently adjust their perception of me in some sort of favorable direction. Maybe they would find me more likable, or maybe more understandable. Maybe they would find my irritability and frustration less irritating and frustrating.

Well, in the past two years I have learned the hard way that this is definitely not the case. Although folks differ widely in their responses, the general principles seem to be that almost nobody understands autism, lots of people flatly refuse to accept the diagnosis as correct or relevant, and telling people that I have an ASD is possibly even more likely to harm my reputation than to improve it.

At it turns out, my ASD diagnosis is really nothing like a “licence to weird”.

I hope that’s helpful!

Image Credit: succo on Pixabay

How to Christmas More Effectively

I’ve never been especially good at Christmas, but I think purely by accident this year I stumbled upon a really effective way to go about it and I can hardly wait to do it again next year! It goes something like this:

  1. Start by pretending that Christmas doesn’t actually exist. This is surprisingly easy for most of the year. Just don’t think or talk about it as much as you can. Don’t try to “get ready” or buy gifts for people in advance. If the topic comes up in conversation blurt out “Oh crap, I just remembered that I have an urgent and very private matter I must attend to immediately,” and then run off like your going to “deal with it”.
  2. As Christmas day draws near it will gradually get more and more difficult to ignore it. When that happens it’s actually better to “go with the flow” and act like you’re really good at it and really looking forward to the big day. Be careful not to lie outright and tell people that you’ve bought some gifts for people, but if anybody asks you can put a sneaky look on your face like you’ve been building a secret gift-cache all along and that the intended recipients are going to feel just thrilled when they see what they’re getting.
  3. During this immediate pre-Christmas phase, you may receive invitations to visit relatives, friends, etc. on either Christmas itself, or maybe Christmas Eve. ALWAYS ACCEPT THESE INVITATIONS CHEERFULLY AND WITH GUSTO. Be sure to ask if there’s anything you can bring. All this enthusiasm is crucial because you don’t want give anybody reason to doubt what happens next.
  4. The day before Christmas — so-called “Christmas Eve” — suddenly fall into a deep depression. Now, if you’re like me, you won’t have to fake this because the very thought of having to spend hours and hours making small talk and probably even arguing with other human beings while having exactly zero gifts to offer them while they’re all exchanging gifts with each other and probably offering gifts to me as well tends to hit me like rhinoceros tranquilizer. For example, Christmas morning this year I had a very hard time crawling out of bed and the thought of talking to or seeing anyone that day left me quite speechless and blind (in a manner of speaking).
  5. Allow your depression to block you from calling or otherwise reaching out to anybody, but when they eventually contact you, be sure to respond but sound lethargic and gloomy when you talk. Explain that you’ve never understood Christmas or how to do it right and that you feel overwhelmed and depressed and just need to be alone. If they ask if you have thoughts of harming yourself reassure them that you don’t and that you’ll feel better once the whole Christmas thing has blown over.
  6. After hanging up, rejoice in your release from your Christmas hassles and spend the day studying Spanish, or doing whatever else you’re into.

Hope that’s useful! 🙂

Disclaimer: although in the above I try to use humor to address what I see as the very real problem of Christmas, the sober fact is that depression and especially suicide are no joke, so if you think you are having a psychiatric crisis and especially if you have thoughts of harming yourself please seek medical attention immediately. You may wish to start with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can call them at any time 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 to speak with a counselor.

Image Credit: Pixabay

How to Vaporize an Ocean of Sympathy

We’ve all been there. You’re struggling with some insurmountable difficulty, other people see you struggling and suddenly you’re overwhelmed with the outpouring of sympathy. It seems to be coming from everywhere and everybody. Everyone that becomes aware of your predicament wants to help out — perhaps with hug, an earnest look, some good advice — God bless’em. In extreme cases they may try to give you canned goods or antibiotics, but before you know it you’re overwhelmed. You’re drowning in a sea of pathos and you just want to feel solid ground under your feet so you can continue your struggle in isolation and despair.

If only there were some easy way to transform that pesky flood of goodwill into a large puff of vapor that would float gently up and away into the sky, thus leaving you free to obsess about your real problem.

Well, guess what? Turns out there is a way to do exactly that. It’s called ingratitude and it really must be if not the fastest then certainly one of the fastest and most effective ways to encourage — dare I say coerce? — even the most fanatical otherwise-would-be sympathizer to buzz off and sympathize with someone, er, more grateful for it.

As it turns out, sympathy is what economists refer to as a “scarce resource”, and folks (all of us) have to make tough choices about how and when and to whom they’re going to allocate that resource. In making those hard decisions one highly favored piece of information they use is whether and how much gratitude is felt and expressed by the sympathy recipient. A total lack of gratitude — a.k.a. ingratitude — is widely interpreted as a cue to go away and sympathize with someone else.

So, there you have it. No longer need you feel overwhelmed by the sympathy others may express when they observe your struggles. Whenever it all gets to be too much, all you need do is express some ingratitude and believe me they will get the message. If they don’t get the message, then it’s probably because you’re holding back in some way. Maybe you’re being too polite. Maybe you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Maybe you don’t want to seem, er, ungrateful?

Hope that’s useful! 🙂

Image Credit: Pixabay

On Disability and the Economics of Sympathy

This appears to be some sort of psychological law:

One can hope for sympathy to the extent that it seems inexpensive and expect antipathy to the extent that it promises to lower the apparent cost of sympathy.

Hope that’s useful!


Image Credit: Pixabay

The Worst Mistake I Ever Made

I think probably the worst mistake I’ve ever made was to chronically imagine — over the course of decades — that my own anger would be perceived and understood by its diverse observers as rational and justified when rather to the contrary it has for the most part been construed as irrational and wholly unprovoked.

I can’t speak for anyone else in saying this, but I feel quite confident at this point in asserting that whenever I personally feel anger — or any of its siblings and cousins (frustration, annoyance, irritability, etc.) — it’s a safe bet that anyone who finds out about these feelings will judge me to be overreacting or out of line, perhaps a bit ridiculous.

At least in my own case, it seems clear that my own anger is only rarely seen as legitimate or taken seriously as a rational and valid communication of useful information regarding a problem that should be solved. As a direct consequence of this pattern, my own anger has rarely accomplished anything useful and has often contributed to the failure of many interpersonal relationships.

Conclusion: good rules (for me, at least, to follow) appear to be, in the first place, don’t get angry, and second, if I do get angry, keep it hidden till I calm down.

Image Credit: Pixabay