The internet

Questions from #autchat.

1. When did you start using the internet?

I want to say fifth grade. I’m 30 now. You do the maths.

2. Do you feel like the internet has affected your personality or how you relate to the world?

I feel like…

  • my relationship standards are higher. I can’t remain passive aggressive in the workplace when someone else is deemed acceptable because “that’s just the way they are”. No — you treat people kindly, with respect. Respect isn’t given by default just because you’re an authority figure.
  • I have less prejudice. I was raised around racism, classism, sexism and mild homophobia. Internet exposure resulted me in me not understanding why such prejudice was viewed as OK and caused me to spend a lot of time questioning my guardians. My stepfather reprimanded me multiple times for having Black friends because “what would other people say?!” and I didn’t understand why it even mattered if other people had issues with how anything looked. They were my friends.
  • most of my special interests require the internet. This was problematic growing up because, instead of nurturing my special interests, my guardians sought to get me off the computer. I literally taught myself HTML and PHP, and all they wanted was for me to get off the computer and go outside. You can’t create websites in the grass.

3. Did the internet play a role in your learning about autism or other neurodivergencies (either pre- or post-dx/self-dx)?

Yes and no.

I actually perused the entirety of Autism Speaks for the longest time, in my young adulthood. I used to be a person with autism until I learned to love and accept myself as an autistic person.

Those were bleak times.

4. Have you participated in other online autism- or neurodivergence-related communities? What’s your experience been like?

I was a member of Wrong Planet, but I disliked the cult-like experience. You had to agree with the majority or be ridiculed for it. Asperger’s was deemed a high-functioning version of autism at the time, and many members wrote in scholarly diction that was exhausting to comprehend. If you asked for clarification, you would be told that you were too young for the internet or that you “must be low-functioning”. The superiority complex may have changed since, but my experience remains valid.

Another autistic-focused forum community = negative experience. I think it was actually run by non-autistic individuals, because they policed how autistic people could respond to neurotypical people posting about their spouses and claimed it needed to be an “inviting space for “concerned autism spouses and parents”. It was extremely heteronormative, so posting about LGBTQ+ experiences resulted in a lot of guys replying to your thread to share their disdain. I often posted about demisexuality/asexuality at the time of my membership, which led to most responses being that I would be single forever because no one wants that kind of relationship and you have to accept that or change if you even want a chance at a partner.

I left the latter forum due to the two owners deciding to remove basic forum features and start charging for membership. I was a brief paid member for free because I’d assisted with its growth, but it was clear to me they were more interested in the autism community and “high-functioning” autistics who fit a certain demographic.

The site ultimately failed.

5. What about the internet is important to you? What do you get from using it?

  • connection
  • community
  • understanding
  • income

Love this post?

Support me by subscribing to my blog and/or buying me a cuppa:

Leave a comment