All This Social Shit: Neurodivergence and Social Interaction

As you all know, I have ADHD — actually, AuDHD. When you have that shit, dealing with the daily amount of sensory input is difficult. And, by “difficult”, I mean “on par with the Twelve Labors of Hercules“. Okay, that’s probably a little over the top but handling sensory shit doesn’t come easy for me. And, social interaction is a major culprit for this overload. One of the ways I get around it is by doing small things that insulate my brain from the goddamn deluge of sensations that come at me daily. Most of the time, this works pretty well. Sometimes. Being as I’m not good with the social shit, I try to avoid it as much as possible. But, as I’m sure you know, life doesn’t always allow for that. Which can be a problem when you’re neurodivergent.

It’s Right There In the Fucking Name!

So, one of the “small things” I do to cope is playing solitaire on my phone. This has a lot of advantages: it keeps my brain engaged and lets me stay on task a little better, people looking at their phones are pretty much ubiquitous so I’m not standing out as some kind of weirdo, and it works as an insulator against the fucking fire hose of sensory input that comes at me daily. But recently, my Solitaire app, that fuckmunching piece of shit, betrayed me when it suggested I join a “multiplayer game”. Yes, you read that right. A solitaire app wanted me to play a game with other people. What the fuck!? It’s solitaire! Which, to my knowledge, is a goddamn game you play alone. I mean, shit, it’s right there in the fucking name. Solitaire = solitary, get it? My god, there are times when I feel like everything in this world is pushing me to be more “social” than I have any goddamn desire to be. And, it’s more than I want to fuck with.

The Neurotypical Obsession with Social Interaction

You know, I really don’t get this obsession with socialization. The shit involves other people and have you met other people? They’re fucking awful. Well, not you guys. You’re taking the time to read this and gratifying my need for attention, so of course, you’re great But the rest of those fuckers? Sweet deep-fried baby Jesus do they fucking suck. Between the trauma I’ve suffered because I’m AuDHD, neurotypical people treating me as marginally human, and all the unwritten rules for social interaction, it’s a wonder I haven’t snapped and wound up on top of a building with a rifle.

I Don’t Want That

Here’s the thing: most neurodivergent people don’t need/want (or can’t stand) the same level of socialization that neurotypicals crave. NTs, especially extroverted ones, can’t get their head around this and it freaks them the fuck out. I’ve wondered quite a bit about this difference and I’ve decided that it comes down to the fact that NTs’ experience of people is so vastly different from ours. If you’re neurotypical, people are nice, accepting, even fun to be around. You know those folks who say that people are, at their core, decent and loving? They have got to be neurotypicals. NDs, on the other hand, know that people are scared, selfish, tribal animals who might not go out of their way to hurt you but they’re not going help you at their own expense. Or even at all. But say that shit out loud, no matter how true it is, and you’re a misanthrope.

So Goddamn Tiring

At the best of times, social interaction is so goddamn tiring for me, what with my introversion and the need to mask. You may be thinking, “Okay, I know you can’t do anything about being introverted, but why do you need to mask?” To answer that question, let’s do a little exercise. I want to think back to a time you were around someone who was weird, or awkward, or just didn’t seem to understand social norms. Maybe they said the wrong thing, laughed too loud/at the wrong place, or — the cardinal fucking sin — didn’t make eye contact. Now, think about how being around that person made you feel. I’m betting weird and uncomfortable to the point that you couldn’t wait to get away from them. There’s a good chance that person was neurodivergent and, even if they couldn’t see how you felt in the moment, they certainly noticed when you left them standing all alone. That is why we mask.

I’m Good With Social Interaction. As Long As It’s On My Terms

Look, I don’t want to make it sound like I don’t want any social interaction. I do. I just want it on my terms. And, those terms would be:
a) I want it when I want it. Not a minute before, not a minute after.
b) I want it to be in a form that makes me comfortable, i.e. a minimum of physical contact (hugs, handshakes, general touching).
Again, I’m not saying I don’t want any of that, but any touching should be cleared ahead of time. Well ahead of time. And I
would suggest you get that shit in writing.
c) When the interaction is over, I want you to remove yourself from my vicinity and leave me alone while I recover.
Are these rules weird and arbitrary? Maybe, but if you follow them, things will go better. Who knows, we might even have fun. Well, you might. The best I can hope for is that it doesn’t suck too hard.

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