So many are all up in arms preaching about the evils of social media. They talk about how people spend too much time on social media, how they post too much on social media and how political or religious discussions often go sour and ruin friendships and even marriages. Of course, taken to the extreme anything is bad but as someone on the autism spectrum and a generally socially anxious/introverted person I have to say social media and the blogosphere have been a huge blessing for me.
Let’s take as an example one of my newest local friends, “Laura.” She’d seen me comment on a lot of news stories on Facebook but always kind of admired from a distance. She might have replied to me a time or two but nothing major. Well a few months ago she said she saw me in person, describing me as a “majestic creature” (LOL right?) wearing short shorts and could have sworn it was me but didn’t want to say anything for fear of repercussions. Well, I’ll just let you look at that exchange:
Well I guess she never saw my reply but needless to say that was August and she hadn’t said anything to me since then, until this past Tuesday. I was having a debate on the ethics of suicide on a local news station’s page and she chimed in as follows:
Well I wrote her that Tuesday but didn’t hear back until the next day (expected it as Facebook screens PMs from non-friends). Well as we started talking we immediately bonded and in just two days we’ve become really close friends.
Now, what does this have to do with how social media has benefited me as a spectrumite? Well, if it was a direct face-to-face encounter for the first interaction I doubt I would have opened up so easily. There’s always that fear of judgment and my slight social awkwardness and tendency to get snappy and defensive (not on purpose mind you) when sensitive subjects come up. I imagine puts a lot of people off even if I do decide to open up to them. The computer screen at least provides a little bit of a buffer to tame that.
A vast majority of my real-life friends were Facebook (or MySpace back in the day) friends before we ever met in person. I can’t say I’ve met any of them real-life first and I likely would never have reached out to them (or vice versa) otherwise. My social anxiety would prevent me from reaching out to them and my initial shyness and introversion would put them off. As they got to know me with the initial buffer of a computer screen it allowed them to see past my social awkwardness and anxiety.
Then of course the blogosphere goes without saying. I love all of my WP followers and friends and I’m glad to know you even if just through blogging. Of course, if any of you do want to get to know me more on a personal level you are free to friend me on Facebook or email/chat with me (contact info on the home screen side bar). If not for you all I wouldn’t have many friends at all.
It’s a tough world for those of us on the autism spectrum so anything to make our lives easier and/or better is a good thing, and social media has definitely made my life better. Sure, as with everything it has its drawbacks but I wouldn’t be where I am today without it and without you all.