Brain dump: too much input

I’ve been avoiding twitter since news began to break that Adam Lanza, the shooter at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, may have been autistic.

Let me explain that I have been diagnosed for less than a year. One of the things I have already learned is that there are a great many ignorant people out there who are ready to tell anyone who will listen about causes, treatments and cures for autism. I’ve had people call me names too. I’m used to those things; it’s sad, but I expect that behaviour. What I did not expect and took me genuinely by surprise, was the massive backlash against people with Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism.

I felt totally overwhelmed by what I was reading and hearing. I worried in case my friends were reading the same things as me and wondering if I was dangerous. I always feel a certain amount of shame when I melt because I always think that I should be able to control it. Lack of control. That can’t be good, right?

I knew that the shooting would likely be a topic of conversation at work. What should I do if I heard people talking about the shooting and saying things about aspies that weren’t true? Should I keep my head down or should I speak up and maybe reveal to everyone that I am one of those people? I am always totally honest when I am asked about being autistic, it is not something I try to hide, but it is also not something that I broadcast. The people I work with who need to know do. The people I trust to know do. And the people from work who follow me on twitter know also. They don’t necessarily know all of my triggers, symptoms and stims, but they at least know enough to be able to work with me and meet me half way on things.

Then things got surreal. There were Facebook pages being started that were dedicated to the elimination of aspies. Statements like “When this picture gets 50 likes we’ll go and burn an Asperger’s kid.”. What the hell? I went from being overwhelmed that people would be scared of me to being scared of people. Not just on my behalf, but also for the little aspies at school who likely already found school to be a matter of survival. I know it only takes one idiot to start a page like that, but believe me that sentiment was being expressed to varying degrees in alarming numbers.

Then today someone managed to pull me briefly in to a conversation (monologue) on American gun laws and why people with mental illness shouldn’t have guns. I started to explain that autism wasn’t a mental illness and then I realised I just wanted out of the conversation.

And so now this is where we are. Not for the first time I wondered about removing the word aspie from my twitter bio. But it is me, I am it and I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m certainly not giving in to some Minority Report pre-cog bull shit. Show me where there is a link between planned violence and autism. Then we can talk. Until that point, I guess we just work towards repairing the damage done to the image of aspies.

After thought: I listen to hip hop, I watch wrestling on TV, I like UFC, I’ve seen every single episode of CSI, I got full colours at school in shooting, I have a shaved head, wear hoodies and baggy jeans. I have a full time job, I don’t drink and I’ve never had so much as a parking ticket. I am quiet, kind and gentle. The only time I get stopped by the police it’s because they wonder how someone my age can afford such a nice car. I am far more likely to back away from a threat than fight. Mind fuck, huh?

Good news for goats

When I was younger, I would always look forward to my parents going out and Molly, the nice Irish lady from next door, coming around to babysit. I loved to hear her tell the story of The Billy Goats Gruff. If you have heard this story then you know that Trolls live under bridges in the middle of nowhere, but what I suspect you don’t know is that somebody has erected an exchange in the middle of nowhere and that all of the bridges have ADSL connections and that the Trolls are now spending their time on the internet. (Yes, this is good news if you are a goat).

At the beginning of the year I was reading some posts on Joystiq about the best PS3 games of 2009, I thoroughly enjoyed the posts because I felt they reflected the opinions of the authors and not of any sponsors that the website may have (which is why I stopped reading gaming magazines). In one of the posts it was suggested that Killzone 2 was a disappointment, Kevin Kelly didn’t say it was a terrible game, just not the game that most people were expecting, a sentiment that I agreed with completely but that sparked a huge debate riot in the comments section. A subsequent post on the same theme listed KZ2 in its “good” list and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in it’s disappointment list. I disagreed with both of these choices, but could see that it was just someone with a slightly different taste in games expressing their opinion, however the comments list was once again the victim of marauding trolls flaming anyone that dared to dislike KZ2. I tweeted about how unreadable the comments sections were and was surprised to receive a response from one of the news writers at Joystiq, acknowledging that there were some “unfortunate remarks” but suggesting that I should “take the good with the bad”. I can see what he meant, after all I applaud the people calling for a new version of Time Splitters, accept many of the criticisms of MW2 and can see that some of the pro-KZ2 crowd were expressing genuine opinions, I just feel that the human : troll ratio was incorrectly balanced.

Then this post popped up on Engadget explaining how Windows 7’s market share had already “surpassed all OS X versions that are being tracked”, here the flame baiting started in the frickin’ article. (Kudos to the first commentor on this post though who succinctly captured my feelings when he added “Yeah, no sh!t, and the sky is blue. Is this really news?”).

Flame baiting/trolling is not big and it isn’t clever and tends to suggest that you have failed to develop the skills necessary to a) have a proper, rational debate and b) realise when someone holds a differing opinion and to respect it and move on and hence the rest of us are more likely to ignore you than engage you in a pointless debate.

I would like to finish this post by mentioning another Joystiq post on the game M.A.G. which caused me to start watching this series of videos on YouTube. I downloaded (eventually) the beta for this game and my experiences were exactly the same as the guy in the video so I genuinely lolled at it. I know a lot of people are going to rush out and buy this game and will love it in every way (and that’s fine), but give me MW2 or a miniature flaming ninja monkey with a chaingun any day!