Feminist Aspie

The good old days?

on October 4, 2013

I suppose this is related to my previous post, which is why I’ve ended up running to the blog as soon as this topic came up in conversation.

So, I’m only 19, and the only time I can identify as “adult” without cringing is if it’s preceded by the word “autistic”!! Consequently, I’m no stranger to that recurring conversation from older adults about “the good old days” of their childhoods when everyone spent their entire lives outside, and you kids with your internet and smartphones don’t know a thing about making your own entertainment, do you?!

It’s occurred to me that by sitting on my phone blogging, I’m basically proving the point. However, the constant underlying message that technology is just BAD and makes ALL THESE KIDS SO UNSOCIABLE has always left a bad taste in my mouth. Because believe me, I tried playing outside with the other kids on my street, and would always end up just not fitting in (again, see my last post). At least video games and social networking sites provided an alternative. Personally, technology has made me more social, and I don’t know what I’d have done without it.

Like I said, though, I’m only 19, only barely an adult (*shudder*) myself, so I’d be really interested to hear from “proper” adults with autism and/or other disabilities, who grew up in the “good old days when kids played properly” or whatever else. What do you make of all this?


22 responses to “The good old days?

  1. bjforshaw says:

    I’m 40 and didn’t have all this as I was growing up (up to my 30s by my reckoning). But I’ve found that connecting to people through blogging and other social networking tools has been such a great help for me to understand being autistic, and especially to feel that I’m not alone with the daily struggles I face in an NT world. The online autistic community is awesome!

    • Even though the Internet has basically always been there as I was growing up, I only really discovered the autistic community online in the last year or so. I’ve learned SO MUCH from all of you!! πŸ™‚

  2. autisticook says:

    Mixed feelings. I found my first online community when I was 22 and the people I met there are still in my life today at the advanced age of 36. They’re awesome.

    However, in a way I’m also glad that I didn’t have that online refuge when I was younger. Because the harsh reality of social interaction in school taught me to stand up for myself, to be proud of my differences, and to reach out to other weirdos in real life. BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE ANYTHING ELSE. I had to.

    Those weirdos are the people who became my friends. Those are the people I can call when I need help moving a big piece of furniture. Those are the people who will cook me meals when I’m recovering from surgery. Those are the people I can browse second hand bookstores with. Those are the people I can get drunk with without feeling like a sad pathetic human being for drinking alone.

    Much as I do love and do need the support and warm fuzzies of online communities, there are some things that I need real life friends for. And even though it’s fucking hard work making real life friends, and I’m definitely not always successful, I’m glad I pushed myself to try and make friends of other awkward people. I know I wouldn’t have tried if I’d had the internet back then. My online comfort zone.

    So. Are online connections real and valuable? YES. A full hearted yes. But I don’t think it should be the only means of validation that people have. We should be demanding that validation of our differences from real life people as well. I was able to demand my validation through extremely hard work, a very big dose of stubbornness, and a very solid groundwork of self-esteem given to me by my parents who told me it was OK to be me and screw everyone who disagreed with that. I know it won’t be possible for everyone to do what I did. So I want them to feel good about themselves. And I don’t want anyone to have to work that hard just to be allowed to be different. It shouldn’t only be online where we feel free to be ourselves.

    • I love this! I have to admit I rushed this blog post as a “while I remember…” thing following a conversation that happened; a lot of people treat it as either/or, and looking back, I think I still kept that mindset while writing the post. It isn’t either/or at all, nor should it have to be. πŸ™‚

  3. invisibleautistic/Robin says:

    Well, I did live in the days when AOL was a thing (and even before AOL was a thing)…I think there were very specific environments that I could thrive in, but when that didn’t work out? The Internet and technology basically saved my life (although I have a love-hate relationship with it, I can spend way too long on the internet). I googled all the questions I had about social interaction that I was afraid to ask anyone in person and used it to accept myself and set boundaries. I stopped drawing (sad-need to get back to that, I used to be able to come up with a lot of stuff) but through the Internet, I maintained a strong interest in music.

    Still,, I agree with autisticook. While finding this online community has finally given me a place to belong, it’s really just one aspect of my life. I’m even using what I’m learning about myself online and trying to apply it to my social interactions in person and just being patient with myself as I navigate the physical world. What I’d love to see happen with myself is a balance of who I am online and who I am in person and to be able to share some of my quirks with people who do live near me as well.

    • “What I’d love to see happen with myself is a balance of who I am online and who I am in person and to be able to share some of my quirks with people who do live near me as well.” – YES. THIS. SO MUCH THIS.

  4. suburp says:

    I am almost 42 and definitively had that childhood people are referring to, playing outside with the kids of the neighbourhood, adventures building cubbies and dams, also feuds and rolling-on-the-floor fistfights (and parents feeling this was an ok way for us to sort out our conflicts). It was ok..because i was a fairly social child and I had a big brother who looked after me.
    much later in life (through social trauma) I have lost the ability to make friends easily, have emigrated far away from home into a different culture and am often by myself. without the internet and the connection it can bring, I would have severe cabin fever and probably fall into depression. I don’t even have very many close connections online, but those that i have, i cherish greatly.
    For my son, I have TRIED to connect with other parents – and failed. He struggles greatly to make friends and I am at a point where I am actually working on a strategy to find him those other ‘weirdos’ autisticook is mentioning, so he can still have experiences with real life friendship. he is way too young to be already roaming the internet for connections (we have started a little though, notably on the autcraft server for minecraft) and he is genuinely lonely. it’s an acute problem for us right now. Yes, I am glad he will have the possibility to connect through online forums, gaming etc, but I am also aware that it’s a bit of a jungle out there and I find it hard to figure out at what age I can let him go forth and make his own independent friends online.
    So in the meantime, I am going to fight for actual inclusion in school and help him make friends in real life also. I believe that you need both.
    As for those kids (genY and after) who do not have any social handicaps but have just become sedentary, somewhat lazy and ever connected and laugh about the adventures we had as kids and teenagers without all the tech.. well, that’s their loss really. I am kind of glad to be part of a generation to have a true appreciation for both types of connection.

    • I love all these responses! πŸ™‚

      When I was about 14, a youth club was set up for teenagers with various disabilities, and I found that massively helpful. In fact, that was how I met my now-ex-boyfriend. There definitely needs to be more facilities like that.

  5. I’m only 25 but I remember very well the times without tv (until I was 5), internet (until I was 16), mobile phone (until I was 17); the days of boom box in stead of HiFi, floppy disks, and mp3 players with a capacity of 128Mb (which were a usb stick at the same time). I don’t see them as the “good old times” because, as others have written already, the internet is much easier way to communicate and socialise for autistic people.

    What did I do before I had those things? The neighbour’s girl would come over anyway; we weren’t many children on our street and she is one of those people who just can’t be alone. She and my sister were younger than me; me friends at school were dumber than me. Both groups would let me lead the playing. So at school we could always play whatever I wanted and at home I would invent role playing games where it seemed as if I was playing but I was the person that had most of the time off (the school teacher, the shop owner, the librarian). I would spend most of my time reading.

    I think one of the reasons My Asperger’s wasn’t diagnosed is that I didn’t seem to have any problems with socialising, nor with sensory overload (I would prevent it by retreating somewhere quiet and read). I can’t say I had a bad childhood, but I don’t remember it being a great one either. I am very greatful for the internet and its resources and new ways to communicate. Maybe I’m part of the generation gap (having ‘grown up’ in a period of change; although my mum always says I was already ‘grown up’ at three) but you will never hear me talking about the good old days. For me, life keeps getting better and technology, when used wisely, is a wonderful thing.

  6. I’m 44 and although I did get sent outside to play a lot I also spent many hours in front of the tv. The one big difference I see in my generation’s upbringing and younger generations is the freedom I had as a kid. I rarely had to tell my parents where I was going. I could be gone all day and as long as I showed up for dinner it was all good. I didn’t play organized sports until middle school and had very little scheduled time outside of school as a kid. I think the amount of time I was able to spend alone made a big difference fore in terms of lower stress levels and learning to manage my sensory and social differences.

    • autisticook says:

      Yes! My parents mostly let me do my own thing as well. I spent most of my childhood by myself in quiet spots, reading or drawing or just watching sunlight falling through the leaves. (There’s a wonderful picture of me hiding in the raspberry patch in the back of our garden. I’d hollowed out a perfect spot where I could read and eat raspberries at the same time).

    • Yeah, that’s another huge difference between “the good old days” and now, and not something I’d thought of in this slightly-rushed post the other night. It’s really got me thinking. As I vaguely touched upon in my reply to Suburp above, I quite like structured activity, mainly because otherwise everyone else just seems to always happen to meet up and do things, and I have no idea how to make that happen. (That’s the worst explanation ever, probably doesn’t even make any sense, sorry!!) I can see why more structure doesn’t work for everybody, though.

      • Ah, well, you’re assuming that my unstructured time was actually spent with other people . . ha, right, no. I spent entire days alone as a kid, wandering in the woods, exploring the neighborhood, climbing trees, “spying” on neighborhood kids, watching the world go by. It was heaven. I don’t even think it occurred to me that other people were doing things with each other or that I should be. πŸ™‚

  7. From @dbltall on Twitter:
    “As an old person, bullshit! The Internet is the best thing to ever happen. Try being a weird kid in a small town where noone shares any of your interests. So glad as an adult to find Usenet where other ppl had read the same books.”

    • invisibleautistic/Robin says:

      I agree with dbltall. The reason I couldn’t thrive well under one environment was precisely because no one shared my interests (or at least I got put in a group where no one did and didn’t know how to find “my people” otherwise). I was the odd one out.

  8. Just a general one – thanks so much for all the responses to this!! πŸ˜€ Sorry about taking so long to reply; I’m just back at uni so my weekend has been rather chaotic πŸ˜›

  9. lior says:

    the last Placebo song deals with that .(I’s called too many friends).Mobiles are a great way to control.I do’nt social network. The web was to me a good way to see how people think .I’m not interested anymore. After 20 years trying to do that , I found out that it was not a nice place to be. I enjoy more and more being autistic now.

  10. lioor says:

    My friends are the one who will leave ma getting drunk on my own… because they have been knowing me mor than for one year

  11. The term “anti-social” is incorrect. The correct term for harmless people who keep to themselves is Unsocial, Unsociable, or Non-Social (I forgot which), and there is nothing wrong with it. “Anti-social” refers to harmful and inconsiderate behavior towards others, while the latter refers to a preference to be alone. The two types should not be confused.

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