A Level Playing Field

I quite enjoy social media.  I probably spend longer on it than I should but many of us are guilty of that.  But what is it I like?  Well, obviously all the things that everyone likes about it – easy and quick way of communicating, keep up with friends, acquaintances and business contacts, be nosey about what people are up to, interact with people whose ideas you like, find out about issues and stuff that is of interest…….

But as an individual on the autism spectrum, there’s another thing too.  Whenever you hear media reports about online bullying, trolling etc. people talk about how online communication can be hard as you can’t see the person’s face or body language, and you can’t hear their tone of voice, all of which means it’s easier for misinterpretations and misunderstandings to happen.  While that may be a problem for many people, if you’re on the autism spectrum it’s a plus point.

Most people with autism have huge difficulty in interpreting expression, body language and tone of voice.  It’s one of the major reasons why communication is perhaps the biggest issue we face.  Whenever we speak to people face to face or on the phone, we find ourselves at a huge disadvantage.  Believe me, it is exhausting trying to quickly process all the information and confusing signals coming your way, and to try to learn and mimic the way other people interact.  But on the internet, everyone is in the same boat. All of you people out there without autism get a chance to discover for yourselves what we have to experience every single time we need to communicate with someone.  It’s the only place or time when people with autism are faced with a level playing field in terms of communication.  That’s why it appeals to me.  Yes, I misunderstand or misinterpret things that people write online, but the great thing is that in this case so does everybody else.  I’m not the weird or different one.  And you don’t know how good that feels once in a while.

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