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Good news bad news time?

Good news: I no longer feel like people might see me as a horrible person or hate me just because of the fact that I've had this userpic since I was 15-16.

Bad news: I now feel like people will DEFINITELY see me as a horrible person and hate me just because of the fact that I've had this userpic since I was 15-16.

https://blog.emojipedia.org/ios-13-1-emoji-changelog/#fn4
https://twitter.com/jeremyburge/status/1050038527155691520
https://intheloopaboutneurodiversity.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/the-ableist-history-of-the-puzzle-piece-symbol-for-autism/
https://www.learnfromautistics.com/the-problem-with-the-autism-puzzle-piece/

(Like most entries when I post a lot of links that make me worry, I wanted to address everything I saw on these pages that worried me, but that would require looking at them for much longer and taking a lot longer to write this entry. Also, the less I write, the less likely I am to unintentionally be offensive? Maybe?)

What I feel like these articles are saying in a nutshell:
- I'm a bad person because I made this userpic, even though I was 15 at the time (16 when I made the current version; both versions have identical text)
- I'm an even WORSE person because I continued to have it even after the first time I saw anyone being offended by the idea of puzzle piece(s) representing autism in general
- I'm even worse still because I continued to have it after the first time anyone specifically told me that they were offended by my userpic specifically, which was about two years ago by now
- I'm even worse because I don't want to remove or replace this userpic. Especially not after so long. And because I still like the autism puzzle piece symbol. And because I like how colorful this userpic is and how I used color palettes from Super Mario World for the non-painted-over pieces. If you like other symbols of autism better, that's fine - I just wish I didn't have to feel like almost everyone with autism will hate me because I prefer the puzzle piece(s).
- I'm a horrible person for supporting Autism Speaks, even though I AM autistic. And for thinking that a lot of things Autism Speaks has done that people have issues with remind me a lot of how *I* used to not understand autism very well, so I feel like I'll be hated because of that and for having worded so many things badly over the years. And since a lot of those things were things Autism Speaks has said *in the past*, when autism wasn't well-understood in general, seeing people talking about that makes me feel like *I* can NEVER be forgiven for ANYTHING I do that is wrong or problematic, no matter how much time is passed. More on that: https://matt1993.livejournal.com/328623.html
- I'm a horrible person for the fact that I thought I strictly *needed* there to be a cure for autism for so long, and while I now get that not everyone wants there to be one, I still feel like *I'd* be a lot happier in general if I weren't autistic. (Because I feel that if I weren't autistic, I wouldn't word things so poorly so often or make userpics that turn out to offend everyone, for starters...)
- I'm a horrible person if I prefer person-first language, and I'm a horrible person if I DON'T prefer person-first language, and I'm a horrible person if I don't care either way. (FWIW, I'm in the "don't care either way" category. More entries about my thoughts about that: https://matt1993.livejournal.com/310902.html https://matt1993.livejournal.com/329994.html)


When I wrote the text on this userpic ten years ago, I was expressing my frustration at how autism isn't very well understood, even by me, and how I wish it was understood better. (It DEFINITELY wasn't well understood for a lot of my lifetime!) In other words, I felt that autism IS a puzzle to those who don't understand it well (including well-meaning people, and I feel that well-meaning people don't need to be yelled at and called jerks just because they don't understand; they just need to be educated on the subject) - sometimes including autistic people themselves such as me. Similarly, I've always felt that I never know what to say or do to not offend people and not unintentionally make everyone hate me - social skills have always been a "puzzle" to me in that regard. And I felt that way even more back when I made the userpic.

Could I have worded the userpic better when I first made it? Well... no. Remember, a) I have autism, which in my case has always made finding the right words difficult for me; b) this was back when I was still fairly new to posting online in general, so I was still naïve enough to think that I could word it however I wanted and people would understand what I meant; c) this was also back before I knew that there was ANYONE who hates Autism Speaks, or ANYONE with autism who wouldn't want there to be a cure for it, etc. because my experience with autism back then was so limited.

Could I have worded the userpic better when I redrew it later that year? Probably not. I could have tried to if I'd known that 8-10 years later I would end up feeling like everyone will hate me for wording it the way I did, but since I didn't know that... I didn't. I just used the same wording again. And *even if* I'd known that I should reword it, there's no guarantee that the new version would actually have been better, for all of the same reasons that the first version turned out as poorly-worded as it did.

Could I make a new version of the userpic that is worded better NOW? Maybe. I've even considered it. But I don't want to.
First off, whenever I try to word things in a way that has no possibility of offending anyone, I always feel like I'm being forced to add dozens of disclaimers that make whatever I'm writing far too long to read, which all turns out to be for naught when I inevitably offend someone anyway.
Secondly, I now feel that this userpic is good at representing my personal struggle with autism because it contains symbols and wording that could be seen as problematic. What could be a better representation of my anxiety about being misunderstood and disliked for things I've made years ago when I was worse at wording than something I made years ago that I have anxiety about being misunderstood and disliked for? How can the rainbow/gold infinity symbol (or any other proposed autism symbol that I've never heard of until just today, and am therefore probably a bad person for not knowing about them) represent MY experience with autism in the same way?


I hope this makes sense - as usual, I had to write it quickly so I can get this posted so I can stop worrying about it sooner. So if I worded something wrong, it's because of that AND my being bad at wording in general.


Well, time to be unable to sleep at all for another week or two thanks to worrying about this. :(

Comments

( 11 pigeons used the Internet — You're quite honest, aren't you? )
antisaint_judis
Sep. 27th, 2019 05:07 am (UTC)

If the puzzle piece symbol works for you, I say use it. Some people will be offended by it, and that’s fine. Simply acknowledge their feelings and explain that the puzzle piece symbol carries a lot more for you than it’s ableist history. It sounds to me like you’re reclaiming that symbol (much like the LGBTQA+ community has been working to reclaim “gay” and other such slurs). Some people will choose to reclaim those symbols, some won’t. No matter what you do, someone will always be unhappy with you. So don’t do it for them and try not to worry about what they think, friend. What matters is it’s a symbol that empowers you and makes you feel represented. And if you like your icon, then like it :) don’t let someone being offended by it make you dislike it.

As for having differing opinions on your own Autism, I’d say they’re still valid feelings. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling like you’d like there to be a cure. Don’t forget that your thoughts and feelings are just as valid and important as other people with Autism. I’ve met clients in the past with similar stances, because it can make life more difficult. I will say this: I like you how you are :) because you’re a great person.

Also, person-first language is the wave of the future, but truly, there are people who don’t care. And if someone gives you a hard time about it, remind them that you’re entitled to your opinions and they can shut their trap. Because honestly, some people truly DONT care.

All in all, not EVERYONE will hate you. Will some people be super petty about your icon or your stances? Maybe, but that’s a flaw in their character, not yours. Most people will be understanding, even if they don’t agree. And others will simply be happy that you’ve found a way to represent yourself :)

Also, I hope you get some sleep. Try not to worry about it (I know that’s hard, I’m a worrier too) and get some zzz!

matt1993
Sep. 27th, 2019 10:49 am (UTC)
Simply acknowledge their feelings and explain that the puzzle piece symbol carries a lot more for you than it’s ableist history.

That requires me to be better at explaining than I usually am. If I explained it well in this entry, that means I was lucky this time if anything.

It sounds to me like you’re reclaiming that symbol (much like the LGBTQA+ community has been working to reclaim “gay” and other such slurs).

But is that truly what I am doing if I first made this userpic before I knew that anyone considered the puzzle piece symbol (or any of my other stances about autism) offensive? And was so bad at expressing myself that I ended up making something that's probably offensive even to those who don't consider the puzzle piece symbol offensive by itself?

As for having differing opinions on your own Autism, I’d say they’re still valid feelings. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling like you’d like there to be a cure. Don’t forget that your thoughts and feelings are just as valid and important as other people with Autism. I’ve met clients in the past with similar stances, because it can make life more difficult. I will say this: I like you how you are :) because you’re a great person.

Thanks :)

I wish everyone with autism saw each other's feelings as valid.

Also, person-first language is the wave of the future, but truly, there are people who don’t care.

That's what I hear half the time. The other half of the time, what I hear is that most autistic people hate person-first language with a burning passion. This divide is what I have so much anxiety about - it's like, if both variations are offensive to half of the autistic community, how is anyone supposed to talk about autism? And if either version is the wave of the future, then... that's not a future that I want to live in.

I've been told that all I really have to do is use person-first language if I'm talking to someone I know prefers it and not use it if I'm talking to someone I know doesn't prefer it, but even that puts a lot of pressure on me. I feel like it's ironic that the autistic community, who often have difficulty learning and following unwritten social rules that come naturally to neurotypicals, have created their OWN unwritten social rules that they seem to expect everyone to already know and can't even agree with each other about.

All in all, not EVERYONE will hate you.

I sure hope not! (And usually when I say "everyone will hate me" I don't mean EVERYONE, but a lot more than I would like.)

And if someone gives you a hard time about it, remind them that you’re entitled to your opinions and they can shut their trap. Because honestly, some people truly DONT care.

It's kind of hard to feel entitled to my opinions if I see a lot of people get offended about something that I like. It's also hard for me to word things well when I'm upset. :(

Also, I hope you get some sleep. Try not to worry about it (I know that’s hard, I’m a worrier too) and get some zzz!

I did get some sleep tonight :) But I'm still pretty worried, and it might be hard for me to focus at work :(

Edited at 2019-09-27 10:57 am (UTC)
glowing_dragon
Sep. 27th, 2019 07:12 am (UTC)
I know you worry a lot about things, but are you actually going to meet the people who MIGHT be offended at your userpic? Probably not. Reading your entries makes me think that you have clinical anxiety, but I am NOT a doctor! I'm glad that you can express yourself here how you want, and I will always support that.
matt1993
Sep. 27th, 2019 10:26 am (UTC)
I know you worry a lot about things, but are you actually going to meet the people who MIGHT be offended at your userpic? Probably not.

Yes I have. Two years ago.

I'm glad that you can express yourself here how you want, and I will always support that.

I'm glad that you support that and feel that I should be able to express myself here how I want. :) But others might not. :(
glowing_dragon
Sep. 27th, 2019 05:54 pm (UTC)
Damn, sorry to hear that you met such a person. I so want to respond and tell her that "cislunar freakouts" sound made-up, and even if they aren't, she can't tell you what to do!

Are you talking about people reading your LJ who think that you shouldn't be able to express yourself in your own journal?! Let me at them - can I burn them down? :D
matt1993
Sep. 27th, 2019 09:29 pm (UTC)
Damn, sorry to hear that you met such a person. I so want to respond and tell her that "cislunar freakouts" sound made-up, and even if they aren't, she can't tell you what to do!

I've been friends with her on DW for over two years after that exchange, so she must not have been THAT offended by my userpic (or she understood when I clarified the intent of it). I've gotten worried multiple times reading her journal that she might dislike me for not understanding certain issues, or (formerly) disagreeing about certain issues, or liking something that she talks about in a "go boycott this" post, etc. - but so far that has not happened, and the few times I've talked to her about the things I was worried she might dislike me for... she hasn't.

I don't even know what "cislunar" means. Is that term even used in that thread? I know I've seen that word somewhere before just now, but for some reason I thought the only time I've seen it was a username.

*checks*

OH! It was when she said she has a "cislunar freakout threshold". Now I vaguely remember looking up "cislunar" after that and determining that it meant comparable to the distance between the earth and the moon, meaning in this case it's really difficult to actually offend her. The threshold is cislunar, not the freakouts.

*looks up cislunar again just to be sure*

"Cislunar definition is - lying between the earth and the moon or the moon's orbit."


Are you talking about people reading your LJ who think that you shouldn't be able to express yourself in your own journal?! Let me at them - can I burn them down? :D

Well... yes and no. I'm talking about hypothetical people who might think that I shouldn't be able to express myself in my own journal (or, y'know, other journals and communities on LJ if I use my autism userpic there). Because I worry about that a lot.

But if you want to burn them down, then sure. First let me find a time machine so I can go find a future where someone's actually told me I shouldn't be able to express myself in my own journal... :P
glowing_dragon
Sep. 27th, 2019 10:26 pm (UTC)
Phew! I'm glad she hasn't seemed to dislike you or what you write! Thanks for checking up on that for me. I appreciate it!

Ah, hypothetical people. Yeah, I know you worry about that a lot, and I'm not saying you shouldn't! I think it's valid. No matter what you do, it seems people may not like you for it anyway. :(
matt1993
Sep. 27th, 2019 11:07 pm (UTC)
Sorry I ended up unintentionally implying that something happened that didn't! :(
glowing_dragon
Sep. 27th, 2019 11:43 pm (UTC)
It happens, and it's okay! :)
remmingtonglock
Sep. 28th, 2019 12:38 am (UTC)

Puzzle pieces are Autism Awareness.  I have a friend who has a little boy with Autism.  Nothing wrong with the puzzle.
You need hugs ❤️

matt1993
Sep. 28th, 2019 03:01 am (UTC)
Thanks! :)
( 11 pigeons used the Internet — You're quite honest, aren't you? )

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I'm depressed. Because the world is ending and there has not been ANY proof that things will ever get better. I'm unable to think about anything except the fact that the world is ending, no matter how hard I try

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