J. Alexander (johnmill79) wrote,
J. Alexander

Shut Down

The computer speaks, seductively, tickling the sleeping cells of my brain as I stumble to my chair. I feel a surge of adrenaline as I prepare to discover what all of my "friends" have been up to during the lost hours. Only this time, when I go to press the keys that will start up my Twitter feed, I am met with silence.
Ok? I'll try the cell. All the amusing, frightening, and just plain weird messages that have surely rolled in from Facebook that always make me wonder about the company I keep. No wait, keep reading! I do still love you, I'm just saying. Anyhow, I flip it open and nothing, nada.
My goodness! Has everyone forgotten me? Did I say or do something wrong that caused people to feel a disinclination to maintain communication with me? Fortunately in my case I had not, but I think that sentiment was what this particular experience was attempting to get at.
Throughout November 1, those who chose to were to shut down all social networking type communications. Idealy, one would have donated to autism charities through this site as well. I did try to do this, but the form provided on the page was relatively inaccessible. I am hoping then that donating my time and participating in this and writing about it will be of some use.
As I know I must've said before, I have very good reason to pay close attention to autism-related research. Many of the men with Norrie Disease present with some autism characteristics. I quite often wonder if I'm on the high end of the spectrum, and here's why.
Over the past few months, I have been told some disturbing things about myself. "You're a great conversationalist," people say, "but you seem to have difficulty fully understanding reciprocal interaction." I gather what they mean by this is that I miss an opportunity to share in something that they've extended to me, or that I do something that, in retrospect, they perceive as rude. Obviously this is a big problem; one that, now that I'm more fully aware of, I work daily to correct through more intensive self-monitoring. It probably explains a great deal of why I have difficulties forming close offline relationships, be they platonic, romantic, or otherwise.
Given that I have this set of personal issues, is it strange that I am trying to enter a profession where I would be helping others with these? I'd say no. After all we joke about it but it's half true: it's the counselors who need the most help. Who else can really understand what it's like to fight such battles on a near-daily basis.
So given what I've just written, I think it's clear that shutting down all online connections except e-mail, which I had to watch for faculty communications, did have a profound effect on me. I spent hours in the library continuing to try and hammer these graduate school projects into shape. I also found a new really sunny spot, as the angle of its rays is already changing such that my old spot is now cold and drabby. Then I came home and logged on for a bit of money-making research. Finally I went to the grocery store, a task that irks me and one which I'm always glad to complete. During all that, I probably talked to twelve people at most.
On the Norrie Disease mailing list, many men with this disorder are currently discussing similar difficulties that they had either while growing up or trying to maintain employment and the like. I guess it is a good thing to know I'm not alone in my experiences with this and the uncertainties that come about as a result, but it is still very hard to deal with sometimes. Will I always be this socially inept? All I can say is I am striving with everything in me to change that as soon as possible. Then I will pass on the knowledge I gain through personal experience and through the research I'm currently conducting to help others do the same. Never take your connections for granted.
Tags: grad school, journaling, rants, technology

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