Hi, I'm Awkward.

So, as a high-functioning autistic person, social awkwardness is definitely one of my “strong points.”

I have a habit of often typing or saying the most awkward and unexpected responses to others, especially online where emotion and tone of voice are not present to provide context for the thing being said. As a result, often I get perceived as one of three things online:

  • A pedophile (especially around younger people).
  • Obsessed to the point of being creepy.
  • Insensitive.

TL;DR, I get blocked a lot. Especially by women.

And the thing is, I’m not trying to be. I genuinely desire to encourage and support people whom I find interesting by following and engaging with replies and such. In person, around people I know and many I don’t, I try to be gracious and kind as much as I can because I know it makes a difference, especially in today’s highly-charged political and moral discourse. Unless someone is deliberately trying to force their opinions, sexuality, lifestyles, etc., down my throat, I really couldn’t care less whether you’re gay, bi, wiccan, Democrat, liberal, enjoy being around naked mole rats, whatever.

The definition of “tolerance” to me is understanding that people have different opinions about the same things, and making an effort to understand why they have different views is a learning experience. This is very different from what’s out in our charged culture today where many’s idea of “tolerance” is expecting their opinion to come out of my mouth. The internet—and its perceived anonymity that obviates any immediate sanction for bullying—definitely fosters this.

—SB