Not easy, but I’m trying, for a moment, to look at my tribe – the people who regard themselves as ‘normal’ or ‘neuro-typical’ – from the outside. I’m trying to see us from the perspective of those Version 2.0 people who are wired differently. (I’ve reverted to my ‘Version 2.0’ label because not all of them are on the autistic spectrum as it is normally described. Many are – but there are others, variously called ‘sensitives’, or ’empaths’ or those with various diagnoses or descriptions of differentness, and I wish to include them all.)
Disclaimer: I use the term ‘Normal’ throughout this article in a somewhat ironic sense. I personally consider terms like ‘normal’ and ‘disordered’ to be chauvinistic and symptomatic of what is wrong with common assumptions in our society. Also, I am a person with ‘Normalism’ and I love words. I can’t imagine life without their richness and beauty. This post is just a thought experiment, okay?
Probably the most difficult aspect of Normals to comprehend is the disparity between what they say and what they actually feel or think.
“No, it looks great on you, honestly.”
(‘It would actually suit someone twenty years younger much better, but I understand you’re going through a bit of a mid-life crisis and if it makes you feel good to wear it, that’s fine by me.’)
“Oh it’s nothing. Really not worth reading – just something I scribbled off last night.”
(‘I poured my heart and soul into these words, but I’m terrified you won’t understand and will dismiss them as trivial or stupid, so I’m pretending it’s not important to me in order to shield myself in advance from any critical comments you may make. Anything hurtful you say will still upset me deeply, though.’)
“Well who’s the teacher’s pet, then?”
(‘I feel envious of the praise you received for that assignment and my inability to produce anything that good. I am therefore attempting to make you feel uncomfortable. It is my hope that my negative reaction to your success will encourage you to try less hard in the future, thus letting me gain more approval from the teacher.’)
“It’s important for you to get an expert opinion.”
(‘You are inferior. You are incapable of reaching a satisfactory answer, due to the prejudices and fixed ideas lodged in your brain. There are far better individuals than you whose prejudices and fixed ideas come for other individuals with letters after their names. These people know what is best for you, despite not knowing a great deal about you. I know this because I learned it from experts.’)
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I’m aware as I write this that I live in southern England, an area particularly renowned for this kind of double-speak. Northern Brits, Americans and Australians, for example, would readily assert that they are far more inclined towards plain speaking, calling-a-spade-a-spade and otherwise using spoken language to express what they feel. Really? Try, for just one conversation, to avoid any sarcasm, any ironic aside, any well-meant but artificial compliment, any indication that you sort-of agree, despite the fact that you don’t, or any self-depreciating statements that are not in total resonance with what you feel.
You’ll argue, perhaps – you Normals – that without such social niceties, speech would be brutal, hard and cold. People would be offended. They might take against you. They might (this is the greatest fear) not flatter and praise you in return. Normals require an almost constant drip-feed of approval. Without this, paranoia sets in. That’s why Normals struggle in their contact with the other tribes. The Asperger guy is not going to tell you that you look good, that it’s great to see you, that he’s glad you came. You’re there; he’s there. No more to be said. Normals are needy, though. They want that stuff. They’ll cheerfully relinquish honesty to get it.
In a previous post I mentioned the 7 year-old Version 2.0 child who came to me distraught after a quarrel with his friend. “She told me she was sorry,” he said, “but I can see into her heart and that isn’t the feeling that’s there.”
It wasn’t the quarrel that had upset him, but the fact that his friend didn’t respect him enough to share her heartfelt feelings. She insulted him by feigning an apology.
If the Version 2.0 people can ‘see into someone’s heart’ (all this is explained far better in the previous post, written by The Snacking Sage and in Suzy Miller’s important book ‘Awesomism’), nothing but honesty will do.
The small child who asks, “Why are you sad, Mummy?” and is told, “I’m not sad, dear. I’m fine,” by a mother who attempts to conceal the truth because she doesn’t want to worry him will – obviously – worry all the more if he knows he’s being lied to.
There are more of these Others – these Non-Normals – than might be imagined. They are way-showers. They can teach Normals – if we’ll truly stop chattering and listen to their silence – to discard the fake conversation and to return to the openness that is a natural by-product of telepathic communication.
Yes, I can see that there would be difficulties and challenges, but ultimately, aren’t we all yearning for greater transparency? Aren’t we, after all, sick to death of being lied to and cheated by those in authority, by multi-nationals who mislead us for their own profits, by those who claim to be acting in our ‘best interests’? It’s worth considering that there are many individuals who are similarly sick of the lack of honesty in ‘Normal’ social interaction.
This is only a personal viewpoint, but I suspect the ‘shift’ that occurred around 2012 involved a fundamental change of mindset amongst humanity – a desire to move beyond ‘them and us’ towards a fairness and openness based on personal responsibility, not the imposition of rules by a corrupt leadership. That could work, if only we could communicate heart to heart.