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.
(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. :(