The Too-Silent Wave (on social media)

(I have to get something off my chest.  I kind of dreaded posting this, because it might irk or offend some, especially some on social media such as Twitter, but I don’t have the energy to be too concerned about it.  That may sound bad, but I’ve reached the point where I figure that people either like me for who I am, or they don’t.  Out of courtesy, I’ll issue a Content Advisory for some of the words I use in this post, and also for those for whom verbal/emotional child abuse or profane language could be a trigger.  There are a couple of F-bombs in this one, although they’re used in memory recall, not anger.  No part of this post is meant in anger, for that matter.)


It’s not anyone’s imagination: I actually have been pretty quiet on social media lately.  I used to check in on Twitter for 5-20 minutes at a time, about 5-6 times a day.

Now I’m lucky if I can check in 2-3 times a week, for about 5 minutes at a time.

It’s OK if you didn’t notice; after all, it’s not your responsibility to keep close tabs on every single follower.  And I’m certainly not one to crave constant attention and then get butthurt when I don’t get it.

I promise this is not a wallowing, “poor me” post.

It’s actually a mental health post.

(I’m really OK with the drifting away, and I hope I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings in the process.  I don’t want to give the impression that I’m ignoring anyone or dumping anyone, because I’m not.  I’m not even leaving Twitter, just repositioning it in a way that results in less stress for me.)

It’s more like a semi-apology for anyone who feels I’ve deserted them (which I never mean to do), and an explanation.

Apologies first…

I’m sorry that it may seem like I’ve fallen off the planet lately.  Truthfully, I’m still here.  I’m just here from a distance.  And I still care for everyone in the community.  Really and truly, I do.

Now for the explanation (please bear with me while I write; I’ve been more than a little alexithymic (yet emotionally fragile) lately)…

I’ve been slowly dropping back, realizing that there are side effects to a sudden large crowd of newfound friends.

One such side effect is that with so many people connected in one large web, falling-outs (or would that be fallings-out?) are inevitable.  I’ve been getting impatient with myself in the process of processing, recovering, and letting go.  The two-month-long conflict from earlier this year has been like a sticky substance on my hand; I can whip my fingers and try to fling it into the sink, but it’s more viscous than I thought, and its remnants remain stubbornly adhered.

In short, maybe I never really recovered, at least not 100%.  I thought I would have by now, and I’m not one to keep dredging up negative shizz for months (which makes this situation all the more surprising, baffling, and frustrating for me).

Or maybe I did make a full recovery, but perhaps not without scar tissue?  I gradually realized that Twitter, once a coffee house full of friends and a bastion of endless support, had become a slightly-smaller-but-more-compatible and tighter-knit booth in a coffee house that has otherwise become too loud and too intense.

That’s not anyone’s fault, really.  It’s more of a lack of common ground and too divergent a combination of mindsets.  From my own perspective, it has become a place that is too public, where I no longer feel safe to be myself, for fear of facing a new round of objection and rejection.

Not from everyone, mind you.  I’m not trying to paint with a broad brush.  But enough to make me start to think twice before tweeting.

I’ve discovered (the very hard way) that I have still felt the need to contort myself into a persona that people will like and accept.  The details have changed, such as who I was contorting myself for, and the specific dimensions of space in which I felt the need to fit into, and the contortions I felt I had to make, but I was eager to please, eager to fit in somewhere, and I still found myself contorting just the same.

I think that part of the stress comes from a difference in outlook.  I’m not going to say that one is superior to another.  I’m simply going to say that one mirrors where I am at this point in my journey, whereas the other, less so.

I never did feel all that strongly about certain commonly used words that are considered ableist.  Maybe it’s just that I never had a bad experience with them.

Oh wait–I did have an emotionally traumatic experience with a word that is considered ableist.  When I was–what–four?  Five?  Six?  My father flew off the handle, into a rage, at me, and he looked directly at me, pointed his finger at me, and managed to holler, “shut the fuck up, stupid!” before my mom could tackle him to shut him up.

Any one of those words “shut up”, “fuck”, “shut the fuck up”, or “stupid” could have become an emotionally raw trigger for me.

I’m still not sure why those words don’t pose a trigger for me, but they don’t–unless my dad were to say them to me again, especially under similar pretenses.

For me, it’s all about intent, not the words themselves.  Others may hold a different viewpoint, based on experiences that are similar or different from my own, and I totally respect that.

However, I’ve decided that I’m not going to be offended by the use of common, non-obscene, non-profane words just because of what they used to (but no longer) mean 50 to 100 years ago.  I support the idea that it’s beneficial to know the historical origins and contexts of the words in our language, but I was starting to fall into a trap of hollering “ableist!” at the TV screen, or the radio, or the computer screen, etc, during every TV show I watched, radio exchange or conversation I overheard, or internet article/post I read (respectively).

(Guess what: the TV doesn’t care.  Neither does the radio.  Neither do the TV/radio stations.  Neither does the internet site being visited or the author of the article being read.  Neither do the general public whose conversations are being eavesdropped.)

And I was tired of the feelings of the alienation I was bringing upon myself.  Because the only people who did care (i.e., support/applaud these efforts) were a tiny sliver of the populace who was doing the same thing.  And their support of me seemed to extend only as far as my indignation and self-alienation went on any given day.  Everybody else lived their lives while I became more isolated and indignant and hyper-sensitive, all in the name of “awareness” and “progress”.  Heh.

Some would nod vigorously and say, “yes, that’s what ableism awareness is; you start to notice–and criticize–a lot more, because it becomes more apparent just how embedded ableism is in our society.”

The people who say this are probably right.  Good for them.

But here’s the problem: I would be more sympathetic to that argument if those words still held their historical meanings.  But times change, and society changes.  If I’m going to get riled up about something, it’s got to be something that’s relevant (to me) here in the 2010s.

I don’t want to live my life having to make the never-ending choice between 1) living an angry life because every website I visit or every House MD episode I watch rubs me raw, or 2) having to withdraw from those things altogether and avoid them because they don’t contain trigger warnings other than the mandated generic “might not be suitable for all ages; viewer discretion is advised” formality.

The truth is, I want to watch Family Guy without getting offended.  I want to have a good belly laugh and derive the same pleasure that I did from watching it in my pre-ableism-awareness days.  I want to be able to hold a conversation with someone without stumbling to find the “right” words or struggling against the gut reaction to police theirs.

I’m tired.  Awareness is good, but sometimes it goes too far for my abilities and it overstretches my brain.  My brain needs a break.  It needs to be accepted for what it is, even if that means not living up to someone else’s standards.  I’ve been trying to please others by measuring up to their benchmarks my whole life, and part of the mental health gifts that my Asperger’s/autism spectrum discovery has given me includes the freedom to be myself and break away from the standards and yardsticks of one world; I’m sure not in a hurry to replace those futile attempts by trying to live up to the demands of another world, even if that world is made of people with the same diagnosis as mine.

And to attempt to constantly gut my vocabulary and mentally search for a suitable replacement several times throughout every blog post has proven to consume too much energy and cause too much stress.

I’ve made the personal decision for myself that I’m not going to let a whole list of everyday vocabulary words run my life or my writing, or dictate my emotions.  And I’m not going to let myself start kowtowing to the fear of criticism from those who do.  Other people may see it differently and disagree with me; that’s fine.  I’m not trying to make any decisions for them or for society as a whole.  This pertains to no one but myself.  But I’m going to decide for myself, and after more than half a year of serious contemplation, weighing the pros the cons, that’s what I’ve come up with, for me.

I speak only for myself, as usual, but I get the feeling that I’m not alone.

It’s been said (on Twitter, by someone else) that to continuously call someone out and ostracize them for using ableist language could itself be considered a form of ableism.  After all, not everyone has the mental energy to keep coming up with activism-correct alternatives, and not everyone has the time or energy to keep googling suitable synonyms for what they want to say.  For those of us to whom that applies/happens, it very realistically becomes a choice between writing a post that is potentially semi-offensive (to some) and at least being able to speak, or succumbing to the fear of the backlash against them and deciding not to post at all.

I agree with–and can relate to–this sentiment very strongly.

No one consciously did this to me. I’m going to step up and own it, and I’m going to do something about it.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to do that anymore.  I won’t (read: will not) suddenly start using overtly offensive words (the R-word comes to mind as an example), but sometimes someone really is acting like an “idiot”, in my view, and from my perspective, I’ve decided that I’m going to call a spade a spade.  Maybe not so much on Twitter, where the environment is more public, but perhaps on here.  It may not be the perfect strategy; it may not be the best, the healthiest, or the most popular.  But it’s where I’m at.

I’ll keep making the adjustments for the egregious violations; I won’t take any steps back.  I may not make much further progress, but I’ll do my best not to regress, either.

But the browser tabs open to the Google thesaurus and webpages of comprehensive (damn near endless) lists of “forbidden” terms are closing.  I’ve made as much of an effort as I can spare right now, and I’m finding that the vast majority of people who visit and interact with me regularly don’t seem to mind what I say.  The vast majority of people know that I’m not being cruel or overly judgmental, and they’re perceptive and tolerant enough to see that.  (Thank you!! 🙂 )

My own spoons are finite, too.  I can’t be all things to all people, and as of today, in order to preserve my own sanity, I have to stop trying to be.

The words of Dr Seuss pop into my head: “those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”

From here on, I’m just going to be me.  The real me, sans self-censorship (which applies not only to certain words, but also to a few ideas for posts that I’ve been sitting on).  Take me or leave me.  I don’t think that most of the people who read this (or have read other posts I’ve written) are going to notice much difference anyway. 🙂

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47 Comments

  1. I’m on the same page as you. I’ve never been bothered by all the language a lot of autistic people find so offensive. I don’t make much of an effort to censor myself in regards to ableist language and I’m not in the habit of calling people out for using ableist terms.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely words and awesome support, my friend! I admit, I was apprehensive about publishing this; I even pushed back the publish date a few times 😜. But I figured what the hey–I’m probably not alone. Thank you for showing me that I’m not 💖👍🏼💪🏼💜

      Like

      1. I’m totally with you. It seems that it’s gotten a little extreme. Maybe the shock value of constant calling out was needed for people to really pay attention but it is very tiring always double checking every word. I’m not trying to insult mute people by calling someone a “dumbass”, I’m insulting the person doing (and I’m at a loss for words that aren’t ableist). Lack of spoons keeps me from entering a lot of conversations unless I’m comfortable with the person.💖

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Exactly!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. Oh the irony of being extremely anti-ableist–it’s almost ableist in itself! When perfectly good people use perfectly benign words that have lost any ableist meaning get criticized and outcast…then that’s ableist itself! Almost like a “reverse ableism” or something 😘🌺💜

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think it can just be a power trip for some people. Being a bully & collecting the “likes❤” makes them feel better. They can have it.👋 I’ll be over here watching Family Guy & laughing at fart jokes. 👍😂

            Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re very welcome! My pleasure 😊. Thank you so much for your support! You support so many people, and that’s totally amazing 👏🏼👏🏼. I’m really happy that you enjoy my ramblings 😉💓💓

          Like

  2. Completely understand. I’ve walked away from more forums and groups online that I can remember. No matter what they grouped for, it always seems to descend into factions and fights, and misunderstood words (often mine). I’m not good at self censorship at the best of times, and tend to say what I mean not realising someone else reads it another way. It’s got me into endless arguments I didn’t intend, and led on one occasion to an almost complete character assassination made on me. The only solution I found was to walk away. I only read a tiny handful of blogs now and stay on my very restricted facebook. My choice of words (with regards to this subject or any other) have always meant people criticise me, either for them being too blunt or too ‘flowery’/elaborate, but I insist on being me regardless. I hope you feel you can be you no matter what and say what you want, life is too damn short to be anything else. You cant please all the people all of the time, and as you say, those who like you will, and those who wont….well…..*shrug*

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yes! *This.*.

      “…it always seems to descend into factions and fights, and misunderstood words (often mine).”

      Totally! 👏🏼👏🏼. Why *is* that?? I’ve noticed this, too – groups, communities, even fictitious TV shows (!). Things may start out ok, intellectual and all, but then, more often than not, they can devolve into a drama-rat’s nest. Ugh.

      And yep, I can relate to the straightforwardness, too. I’m like, “no, I didn’t mean it that way!” But there seems to be no talking sense into some, or confusing them with the facts (lol); they’ve made up their minds, and that’s that 🙄🤔

      I, for one, totally admire and appreciate your approach of telling it like it is. And I admire your social media approach, too; so glad you’re aware of what’s right for you and that you’re sticking to that. Awesome 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼❤️💖

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh its not always easy (I just cant seem to keep myself out of the mire!) and fell foul yet again not long ago on a tv forum of all places – just because i dared speculate about their favourite actor’s motives!! I walked away from that too, its just not worth it. My circle of people I can talk to is dwindling but I’m learning to live with that, and accept that I really am not to the vast majority”s taste.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hehe I hear you! 😊. I noticed a similar case with the circle of people; I learned pretty quick who my real friends were and sadly, who my real friends were not. You’re right, too–it’s just not worth it, in some cases, or with some people, or in some situations ❤️. Meh, the tastes of the vast majority are overrated anyway; it’s perfectly cool to be true to You 👍🏼😘💜

          Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a good decision for your own peace of mind. Community or no, you don’t owe any of your spoons to strangers on the internet.

    I find Twitter, even when it seems full of awesome and interesting people and stuff to think about, to be completely​ exhausting. I’ve barely even looked at it in the last few years. Too crowded, too noisy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yep, I love how you put it – Twitter is indeed awesome and filled with wonderful people, but it can also be extremely noisy (I love how you used that word! Fantastic context 😊). Thank you so kindly for your encouraging words! Very much appreciated! 💞💜

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand. I’ve taken a break for slightly different reasons like feeling unsupported by the community and feeling alienated by those who should have ? Could have ? accepted me….or been more understanding.
    I’ve found the community too competitive. Too many trying to outdo each other and beat others down with their knowledge and superiority complexes. Too many labels used to bash others with. Too much “my Autism is better than your Autism” or “more” valid, “more” classic.
    Too much viciousness.
    I’ve just given up.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I take the view that I have better things to do with my time than post objections to everything I see on social media that I don’t like – I like and share the stuff the meets my approval and ignore the rest 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amen to that! I’ve been doing the same, and wow, does it make a difference! 😊. The only issue I have (and this is what fueled this post) is when I post or tweet something and I get jumped on all over because I used an “ableist word” (like idiot, for example. I mean, if someone is offended by the word “idiot”, then I respect their opinion, but they’re going to live most of their lives offended and angry. And I don’t appreciate when they jump on me for it; I wish they would take the same stance that you and I do, but alas… Lol) 😉💖

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I thought you’d gone a bit quiet but I figured you have other things to do than constantly interacting with people.
    Having just posted a great big post about how horrible everybody’s language is, maybe I should point out that I don’t think we should call each other out constantly for “ablist” language. And a constant state of offendedness isn’t good for anyone. I have to confess that I’ve only just entered the stage where I notice these things everywhere so I’m a bit thin-skinned at the moment but I would never call someone out just for using a word unless I know that there is a nasty attitude behind it. And you are the very opposite of nasty! 🙂💚🌸

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You. Are. Awesome 😘😘. Thank you for seeing the real me 💞. I agree–it’s very much about intent for me. If someone uses the R-word to denigrate a rude driver or something like that, I’m not always offended; but if they’re making fun of someone who is indeed mentally/cognitively challenged, then ooooh that makes my blood boil 😡. Thin skin is perfectly cool 😍. I think it’s almost a natural artifact of awareness 😊. It’s true that the vocabulary used so crassly by the general population is pretty horrid and insensitive. Brutish, if you ask me. I just chock it up to a symptom of culture + the times. It doesn’t let them off the hook or make it right for people to be this way, but I often find myself saying, “it is what it is”. ❤️. I love your approach – call them out when there’s a nasty intent behind the words, because the words are symbols of that nasty attitude 💖💜

      I loved your post, btw!! 👏🏼👏🏼. I think my WordPress app crashed when I went to comment, as it has been doing lately, but I’ll go see if it posted anyway (it does that sometimes, too) and if not, I’ll try again 😊😘💞

      Like

  7. I really your posts! i wish you can help me to improve my works. I accept any suggestions and comments, you can also visit my site charliekienth.wordpress.com. thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! 😃💙💜. I really like your site, especially the post about ups and downs. You write with a bright, light, happy spirit 😊. I have no criticism to offer, as I think your blog is wonderful as it is! My only suggestion – keep writing 😉❤️. Looking forward to reading more! 💜💚

      Like

  8. I’ve been in a similar boat. I want to be friendly, but as with real life, I find it easier to cope with relationships if there is a project or common goal involved. An occasional comment or dialogue? Fine. But constant back and forth just for the sake of it zaps me of my energy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Our thoughts are it is important to always be honest and truthful and this can be done without abusive, offensive or derogatory words. Do we use them…. sure we do but we try to be sensitive and aware because it doesn’t always accomplish the right outcome. Coming from the professions we worked in please believe when we say we’ve heard a lot. Being that as it is it is our choice to be honest in a nice way and let the point find home on its own.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re definitely not alone. Its good to guard against any kind of prejudice, but some people seem to enjoy being offended all the time, in my opinion. I don’t have the time or energy to get super upset every time someone calls someone an idiot…

    Liked by 1 person

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