Well, I hit “Publish” on the previous post before I realized that I had only blogged roughly half of the notes I’d prepared. On Twitter, we would tag that with “AspieProblems” and probably laugh about it. I know I did.
So, one of my Twitter Aspie-tribe-mates (Aspie Under Your Radar; her excellent blog can be found here) suggested that I simply write a sequel/Part 2, and I’m gratefully taking her advice. 🙂
To bring everyone up to speed (for those who might have arrived without having seen Part 1 yet), there’s a lot of well-written and fun (!) speculation on what the world might look like if it were made to be compatible with the needs of those of us on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, but I wanted to put a slight twist on the subject, and begin to consider…
What would a world dominated by Asperger’s/autistic people look and feel like?
I outlined a few theories in the previous post, but since there’s more to say, let’s continue…
Let’s just say that family gatherings would be much smaller and more relaxed. I’ve observed that Aspie/autistic people tend to have fewer children than average (and plenty have no children at all), hence the smaller size. The increased relaxation factor would derive from that smaller family size (and thus, fewer people with which to have to interact), as well as the fact that the default neurological orientation would be ours. That means there’s no obligation or pressure to impress other people, be on our best behavior at all times, act “normal” and hide our honest nature, socialize beyond our comfort zone, or for longer than our energy can hold up.
Instead of passing around the family pictures and “oooh”ing and “aaah”ing at everyone’s babies, or instead of sitting around a big room, branching off into smaller groups to make small talk about pointless gossip, we’d probably sit around and self-soothe, contemplate the world on a deeper philosophical level, and probably solve the world’s problems in one evening, all without having made a shred of eye contact.
Holidays would almost assuredly be different, too. The TV would not be blaring the American Thanksgiving Football game, and no one would be hollering at said TV (as is currently done by some allistics, as if the football players could even hear them). There might not even be American football; it’s generally too obnoxious and pointless for the average spectrum-mate.
We’d all probably sit down and have a family Nintendo chess or racing game tournament (all ages invited and involved), or play Clue or some other strategy-based board game together. Or maybe we’d watch some kind of “cult classic” movie that the rest of society had long forgotten.
Christmas, for those who celebrate it with gift exchanges, would also be less problematic. Gifts might be exchanged–or not. Currently, in my family, the parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents all give the children gifts; as for the adults, everyone brings a single “girl” or “guy” gift, wraps it, and puts it in the center of the room. We divide the room by gender (and the gifts by gender, too–a “girl” pile and a “guy” pile), and the two groups roll two dice on a paper plate and whoever gets a 7 or an 11 (total between the two dice) picks a gift, without knowing what it is (except the one you brought–you already know what that is).
Well, my family is largely neurotypical/allistic, and I always had a hell of a time trying to figure out what the typical female would be interested in. I usually ended up getting something catch-all (universally-accepted), such as a pretty candle, a scented body product gift basket, or a home spa/loofah set. The age range (ages 20-94) was too wide for a music CD, a movie on DVD, or gift certificate to be considered safe. Sick of being “boring” and freshly-exhausted of ideas in recent years, I bucked the “chick” trend and got an artistic specialty calendar, a Texas Hill Country-made designer nightlight, or an eclectic scarf.
But meeting up with a handful of Aspie/autistic people would not be nearly so taxing. We’d probably end up getting each other Nintendo games, books, art supplies, sheet music, microscopes or other science supplies, model kits, engines, firearms, Renaissance Festival attire or figurines, eclectic music collections, computer gear, medical thriller stories, college-level textbooks (on various subjects), a magazine/journal subscription….whatever each family member’s special interest happens to be.
Shopping for each person according to special interest might be kind of a double-edged sword; on one hand, the subject category is a slam-dunk; on the other, you don’t know if the person already has a particular thing or not, and chances are, since it’s their special interest, they’ll probably know more about that subject than you do, and so you might get something that isn’t “authentic” or is “wrong” for some other reason.
The good news is, the recipient will politely-but-directly tell you whether you “got it right” or not. None of this two-faced “gee, thanks, it’s what I’ve always wanted” to your face, and then throwing it straight into the trash can later, secretly thinking, “what a dork.” You’d know exactly where you stood, and if you got it “wrong”, you’d know what to do next time. But we’d all be nice about it, nonetheless.
Thank-you notes might be written and appreciated, but certainly not required or expected, and no one would get butthurt–nor would anybody be shunned, shamed, or cut out of “the will” or passed up for future gift shopping–if a thank-you note was not received. We’d all understand that everybody appreciated everybody else’s efforts.
There would be none of this horrid American custom of “Black Friday”, by the way. “Cyber Monday” would be a lot more of a “thing”. And since everybody would be doing all their holiday shopping from their homes online, nobody would get trampled or beat up over the last Beanie Baby or flat-screen TV or BluRay player on sale at some bottom-of-the-barrel Fortune 500 company-owned store. Nobody would be knocking each other over to get into Walmart. The news would be silent on the subject, because there’d be nothing to report.
Retail employees, thus, would not have to cram (American) Thanksgiving dinner into the early part of their day, because they wouldn’t have to go into work that evening to prepare for said Black Friday bloodbath. They would actually be able to spend time with their families and eat at a reasonable pace, at a reasonable time. They’d be able to spend what is currently Black Friday resting-and-digesting the Thanksgiving meal from the day before and hanging out, decorating the house for the upcoming holidays.
New Year’s Eve would not be all about getting plastered on Jello Shots and other cocktails; it would be a low-key day spent at home, reflecting on the previous year, and making lists of resolutions or goals for the upcoming year. These lists could be subdivided into monthly-themed to-do lists. We’d hang out and wrap up the previous year into a mental package and put it away in our heads, making room for the New Year to come. Nobody would be driving drunk; hell, nobody would probably be drunk.
Valentine’s Day would be much more pragmatic. In the US, TV advertisements push new luxury cars and diamond rings; bottles of red wine and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate pieces are also nice and safe…and cliche. I don’t need a card. I don’t need a car. I don’t need chocolate (OK, bullshit–I do, but my stomach doesn’t care if it came in a heart-shaped box and cost twice as much as regular chocolate, simply because the box carried the word “Valentine” on it). I certainly don’t need any wine or a diamond ring (I don’t even wear my wedding ring! I’m afraid of losing it, and it would probably get in the way and drive me nuts).
Instead, I’m happy with a long, slow, firm hug; be present with me; maybe write me a poem or tell me what I mean to you and whether or not I enrich your life. Show me affection, without the hope or expectation of sex. That’s how to show love. Aspie/autistic people are usually very cerebral about love. For us, it’s not about the object given as a present, but about your having thought of us and your Presence of Being with us that counts. It’s your commitment, your respect, your acceptance, your understanding, and your stability. It’s about your intelligence, your humor, and your flexibility. We’re easy that way. Cars and diamond rings would simply be looked down upon as desperate, materialistic, and frivolous.
The American Independence Day may or may not involve fireworks. If fireworks are used, they’d only be used in designated places, well away from residential neighborhoods, and violators would likely be fined…heavily.
Labor Day would be just that: Labor Day, a celebration of the people who go to work each day. And people would indeed be able to take the day off. Not just banking institutions, schools, and politicians, either–everyone (emergency services not withstanding) would get the day of reprieve that Labor Day in the US was meant to be. Non-emergency-related businesses that remained open would be slapped with a bad Public Relations image.
Halloween (my favorite holiday and my partner’s and my wedding anniversary!) would not feature little kids running around demanding candy from strangers. No, Halloween would be known by its proper name, Samhain, and it would be a much more mystical and significant day. In the current world, the concept of Halloween is tinged with an orange plastic vibe. Halloween (Samhain) in an Asperger’s/autism spectrum-dominated world would be more of a purple or black velvet (not meant in an erotic sense), or pewter and iridescent glass, meant in a Merlin-type mystical sense. I’m trying to describe a general “vibe” or concept, and yes, it’s hard to describe. Yes, it’s enigmatic. That’s about as far as I can describe it using regular words. Candles would be lit and the veil between the physical and metaphysical/spirit worlds would be thin. Those who chose not to celebrate/recognize would be accepted and respected, too; live and let live.
Regular life would be more interesting, too. Driving through any given city or town, you might see that the crumbling stone or cement walls have been painted over with bright murals that scream genius. Truck stops and drug stores (if there were any) would feature what are currently considered eclectic items, such as anime comics, Magic Eye picture books, high-end abstract fiction, cult classics, classic literary fiction, CDs of Goa Trance music to keep one awake and alert during longer road trips through remote regions, or educational games and textbooks instead of today’s trashy romance novels and tabloid papers “telling all” about pointless, empty celebrities (ugh!).
If there were any romance novels at all, even they would have a more intelligent and eclectic flavor, perhaps taking place against a heavily-fantasy or sci-fi backdrop. Spelling and grammar would be head and shoulders above what we’re stuck with today, with fewer mistakes; I would not feel forced to assume the role of reader-turned proofreader. There would be more colorfully descriptive of higher-octave concepts and topics. The books of today’s world would largely be considered trashy and undesirable.
Houses would be different, too. For one thing, they wouldn’t be so close together that one catching fire would automatically put the next five or six houses in danger. There would be space to breathe, probably a mandated minimum of a half-acre. The layouts and floor plans of different houses would likely have more eclectic options.
Some might be tree forts (think Ewoks from “Star Wars”, picture below); others might be built like Medieval castles (complete with a “Moat option”), complete with stone walls and wall sconce lighting. Others might be geodomes, or half-buried in the ground against a gently sloping hill. Others might be tiny self-contained spherical entities, floating in a lake. Ancient Mesoamerican adobe houses or small versions of Roman palaces (with environmentally-friendly air-flow systems to provide natural air-conditioning) or Renaissance-like villages might exist. There may be tiny huts (a la “The Hobbit”) or Japanese-style dojos, with neutral shades of color, simple decor, and minimal furniture.
Rain capture (from the rooftops) would not only not be illegal (as it is in several states, counties, and cities in the US), but would be accepted and even encouraged. Electricity would probably be free, given that in a spectrum-dominant world, Tesla’s World Power System (link to TeslaSociety.com) would have caught on and taken hold, becoming the universally-utilized free and decentralized wireless power grid, pulling energy from the atmosphere and the ground.
Maybe this is what some of “the rest of the world” (the allistic population) has in mind when they try so very hard to pathologize our spectrum neuro-type. Maybe this is what some of them are afraid of. They might fear a world in which they struggle to keep up, fail to fit in, stretch their brains beyond their comfort zone. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all allistic people; the more intelligent ones would welcome such a world right along with us; the less intelligent lack the capacity to conceive of such a world.
This world would not be perfect. It would still be governed by the same laws of physics, nature, economics, self-interest, survival instincts, basic human needs, aging, geography, and lack of natural predators. Nothing would be “free” (except the Tesla-based energy, since it comes from the air and ground); we would still have to work and since we would expect to be paid for our work, we should also expect to pay for the work of others. It wouldn’t be Candyland or Fantasia.
But maybe, just maybe….it would make more sense and cause less stress. 🙂