You’ve probably heard the old adage, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
That’s known as “The Golden Rule”. And it is indeed regarded as golden…
…in a neurotypical world, by neurotypical people, that is.
At first glance, it appears universal, an undisputed truth, a law of human nature. Every major world religion teaches some version of this concept. Even those who don’t subscribe to any religion or belief in any kind of supreme being would probably agree on this tenet.
But as with practically every rule, there are exceptions.
This “Golden Rule” isn’t quite so universal, when examined through an Aspergian/autistic filter–at least, not through mine.
“Do unto others” doesn’t actually apply much to me at all.
Sure, there are some “given”s. For example, I wouldn’t hit someone, because not only is it morally wrong to bring harm to another living being, but I wouldn’t want to be hit, either. The same goes for other actions like theft, murder, and the spreading of rumors.
However, there are a few intricacies. For instance, most people don’t like to be alone. I, on the other hand, rather enjoy it.
And I’ve found that I can’t treat others, especially many (not all, of course) non-autistic people, like I would want to be treated.
I have little-to-no fashion sense. I might be attracted to a particular shirt or pair of jeans, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I will look good in it. I might love the color; the color might not like me. The same applies to hairstyles and such.
I often rely on the critiquing skills of others to tell me whether or not the clothing compliments my eye color, skin tone, or body figure, or whether or not the hairstyle frames my face well.
The general neurotypical instinct is to say “it looks great!”, which I believe stems from that Golden Rule learned in childhood, and it bleeds into situations like these, getting in the way. Practically nobody, whether they’re on or off the spectrum, enjoys hurt feelings, so the general neurotypical social rules dictate that one’s feelings must be preserved at all costs, even if that sometimes means letting your friend go out in public looking “wrong”.
I would want to be notified if that shirt hangs off me the wrong way or those jeans highlight my genetically-widened hips.
Sure, I might be a little disappointed that my body type or my other physical attributes might not agree with my tastes in clothing shape or color, but I’ll get over it. At least, I’ll get over that much faster than I would be able to overcome the idea that a friend saw the mismatch but declined to say anything.
How I would want to be treated is for the friend to be honest, so that I could be given the opportunity to change into something more complimentary before leaving the house.
However, this approach doesn’t work with the average neurotypical person. I can’t “do unto them” the way I would want them to “do unto” me. If I saw a friend wearing something that was all wrong for them and they asked me how it looked, what I would tell them and what they’re expecting to hear would likely be two very different things.
You’d think I scorched their family heirloom.
It might cause a rift.
This is because, generally speaking, our value systems are different. I value honesty, even if it’s not what I ideally wanted to hear. The average neurotypical person seems to value the preservation of feelings and self-esteem, at surprising costs, and the other neurotypical people, generally speaking, seem to inherently understand the need for–and possess the skills for–going to surprising lengths to preserve the feelings and self-esteem.
From the average neurotypical point of view, Aspergian/autistic people like me are dry, “blunt”, and “rude” people who “lack social skills”. From my Aspergian/autistic point of view, the neurotypical population is made of “touchy, over-reactive people with Issues”.
Of course, neither one is actually true.
(Hence, the quote marks around the various descriptors.)
Each perspective is just that–a perspective.
And in this case, “it’s all relative”.
I don’t have any easy answers, other than awareness, both of self and of others, as much as possible. Both “sides” probably have a little learning to do, a little adjustment to make.
Neurotypical people might grow slightly tougher skins and understand that I’m not trying to hurt their feelings–rather, I’m trying to be helpful by giving an honest opinion.
My Aspergian/autistic self might take a few extra moments to stop and attempt to filter my raw data through a more socially-conscious layer, in order to come across as more tactful.
Meanwhile, there’s never a dull moment. 😉