Sunday, 1 February 2015

It's not just me

I'm really bad at people.  I can't strike up conversations or keep them going outside of specific scripted situations.  I can't tell who's friendly and safe and who's a potential rapist or murderer.  I can't make relationships happen, and if the other party makes them happen I struggle to hold up my end until it either crashes and burns or withers miserably away.  I take things literally and miss subtext, and am blind to the overarching narrative chain of which this present interaction is just one link.  I can't keep track of who's who in social networks.  I just can't do people.  

None of this is news. I have Aspergers.  I also have a tangle of other stuff, the most relevant to this discussion being the triple-headed blob of suck that is depression, anxiety and social phobia. I am clinically not good at people.

So it always comes as a surprise to me when I get a reminder that a lot of neurotypical people are just as bad at people as I am.

This wasn't what I was hoping to find when I searched for "awkward", but it's too good not to share

I think most people have some trouble with social stuff.  That google's first autocomplete for "I have no..." is "friends" suggests interpersonal relations are hard whatever your neurology.   (Other high ranking suggestions, in case you care, "idea what I'm doing", "energy" and "mouth and I must scream".)

Why?  We're social animals.  Functional relationships are not only something most of us yearn for, but come in handy for the continuation of the species.  You'd imagine we'd be putting a great deal of conscious and unconscious effort into getting it right.

But society's a giant blob of people who can't or won't get on.  Some of it's willful, but a very great deal of it is people who just can't do any better.

This is at once disheartening and strangely reassuring.  It's disheartening because if people with all the cards stacked in their favour still screw up social stuff in the worst possible ways, what sort of hope do I have?  But it's reassuring because, if most people struggle with this stuff, I'm not an irredeemable freak if I struggle too.  (It does, however, lead to the bullshit line "but isn't everyone a little bit autistic?"  To which, to quote Stephen Fry, the short answer is "no" and the long answer is "fuck no".)

I like to think I've got some sort of advantage over a lot of the random social inepts, in that I know I'm crap and am trying, in my own barely competent way, to do better.  I know what I don't know and can't do, and when things do go wrong I often have at least a vague idea why.  That must give me a slight advantage over the shouty berk who's never got further than thinking they're right and the rest of the world's wrong.

Mustn't it?