I am an ever-seeking idealist. This is my greatest attribute, and at moments my weakest link. Like many a folk I know, I think outside the box, and I remain there, looking outward at the kaleidoscope of possibilities to be the best I can be, in a world that dictates competition, attention and greed.
This evening, I find myself questioning, after four years of writing and interacting with others on the autistic spectrum, if I truly want to be an advocate or representative of the autistic condition. There aren’t any reasons I can pinpoint, beyond that of wanting nothing to do with selfish intentions.
Much of this unease has to do with my interactions on Facebook. In the last years, I have embraced my autism, and I call myself ‘autistic’ with pride. I have a calling to share information about Aspergers, particularly how it affects females. But I am becoming weary of making social media posters to spread information, especially ones with my name on them; as a portion of the social interaction appears an arena of flashing images of self-promotion, akin to flyers tucked under automobiles’ windshield wipers, back in the pre-Internet days.
I find it increasingly more troubling and toilsome to be on social media pages, as more and more people are setting out primarily to seek climbing numbers of viewers. What used to be mere sharing for the well-meaning intention of sharing has become more so a game of counting ‘likes’ and aiming for accolades. The way I see it, thumbs-up virtual ‘likes’ have become a new goal, a new reason people get up in the morning, an odd transference from real-life to virtual-life approval seeking. I myself, have fallen victim to this virtual social-hype-trappings of wanting to be better, do better, and achieve more.
Though today, I recognize the internal discomfort for what it is. I understand that recently with the upcoming publication of my book, I find it more challenging not to be swayed by the majorities’ ways. I understand that some are claiming the bombardment of social media posters is spreading awareness (or connection, or any a number of justifications). As much as I applaud those with good intentions, the bottom line remains: the poster making production, (with product, website, blogsite, page site and other identifier placement), resembles a popularity contest filled with contestants masked as well-intentioned dogooders.
I am taking off my mask tonight, even as I imagine others won’t understand and likely not agree. And that’s okay. I recognize what is best for me. I no longer want to be a part of this particular race. I have done my fair share. I have been a true participant. And now it is time to return to my true mission and honor my personal values. I want my journey to not be self-inclusive. And so, I free myself from yet another social game –easing myself out of a place that no longer feels a comfortable reflection of my authentic self.