So. This phrase first came into my head a few years back.
What I meant (& mean) by it is probably not what you’d think.
The phrase was in my head long before I was paying any attention to the current autism epidemic (which btw is up to 1 in 36 kids now; higher for boys, I understand. For a technical lecture on this by an MIT researcher, go here ... if that doesn't sound too bossy... If that lecture is a bit too lengthy for you, watch this short YouTube with her in which she references toxic chemicals in vaccines & discusses glyphosate, glutamate, mercury, aluminum. What it is that causes the brain to swell in autism. Covered are MMR vaccine, Gardasil vaccine - vaccines in general. Also mentioned: pineal gland, melatonin, sleep disorders - & other neurological disorders. & all this in 8 minutes!?)
& the whole autism/vaccine controversy.
Now I do know quite a bit about all that, as it happens, & have written quite a bit about it too (see the right-hand side of the main page of this site: all are listed there neatly, though my thoughts & postings can be rather messy, I am prepared to admit) – but still, this is not what I meant when I said, inside my head, “Autism abounds!!”
What I meant was this:
“My, but an awful lot of people are shitty communicators!?”
To be quite clear, I was not referring to people on the autism spectrum! Of whom I had met, as far as I was then aware, very few.
I was thinking of … um, well, various people with whom I am acquainted – in my work life, in my personal life – who just really don’t respond to things. You send them a letter, or a card, or a … something … & you just plain don’t hear back from them.
Did they get the card? (How long does it take to send an email to say “Got your card; thanks!”?)
Or that important email you sent them, that you really kinda need to have a response to?
Did the card, or the cheque, or the … whatever … go astray?
Has everyone lost their basic manners these days … or what??
So. That little phrase was in my head.
The individuals who are literally “on the spectrum” – let’s be clear; this is NOT who I’m talking about.
These folks have stuff going on in their brains that explains why/how they may be lacking in social skills. (There’s simply gobs of science available now on vaccine risks & also on what’s going on inside the brains of autistic people, which are literally swollen, for heaven's sake. Maybe listen to neurologist Dr. Russell Blaylock explain this to you? Pretty please?? Shorter Blaylock item here).
& since the rate of autism is now up to 1/36 (1 in 28 for boys, apparently) ... did I mention that already?? Oh. I guess I did …. (but it isn't "just" autism we are talking about either. Sooo many ways in which our children are damaged these daze; OMG)
I think we have to cut those people lots of slack. They have really solid reasons for being not-so-great at communicating.
But the rest of us … I mean, those of us not “on the spectrum” … those of us who are perfectly capable of communicating well? Well, I think we need to consider trying to become especially good communicators, or so it seems to me…
since things can break down really nastily when folks don’t communicate well. You know what I'm saying?
& we have a serious autism epidemic on our hands. So it’s going to get pretty challenging here on old PE (Planet Earth) – like, um, as if there aren’t 54 or 159 other ways to Sunday everything is already pretty desperately screwed up these daze anyway, hmmmmm?
This just seems so basic, so simple, so … commonsensical … to me.
p.s. not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve seen – no, let’s just be 100% clear here – I have been in several relationships by now, which absolutely & totally for sure, broke down irrevocably (in a case or two, pretty messily, actually), because the two people involved (that would be the other person, & … um, you know, me) … simply because neither party was able to be really clear about what was really going on that was sabotaging the relationship. You know what I’m saying? Never mind any (literal) autism being involved…
A Few Relevant Quotations
“Many of the things we all struggle with in love and work can be helped by conversation. Without conversation, studies show that we are less empathic, less connected, less creative and fulfilled. We are diminished, in retreat.” – from Reclaiming Conversation – The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, by Sherry Turkle (great interview with her here on how "smart" phones are damaging our relationships)
“It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.” – Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show
“The cultivation of a stance of invulnerability robs men of a wisdom known to most women in this culture – that people actually connect better when they expose their weakness. Linguist Deborah Tannen, analyzing women’s ‘rapport talk’ versus men’s ‘report talk,’ found that a vital component of conversation between women was what she called ‘trouble talk’ – inviting the listener in by opening up one’s own points of vulnerability. Finally, to the degree to which a man learns to ‘be strong’ and to devalue weakness, his compassion toward frailty not just in himself but also in those around him may be limited or condescending. In this and many other ways, the loss of expressivity and the loss of vulnerability inevitably lead to diminished connection with others.” – from I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression, by Terrence Real
“I wonder if what makes a family a family isn’t doing everything right all the time but, instead, giving a second chance to the people you love who do things wrong.” – Jodi Piccoult in her novel Lone Wolf <pg. 356>
Rebecca Solnit on silence:
“Words bring us together, and silence separates us, leaves us bereft of the help or solidarity or just communion that speech can solicit or elicit. Some species of trees spread root systems underground that interconnect the individual trunks and weave the individual trees into a more stable whole that can’t so easily be blown down in the wind. Stories and conversation are like those roots. For a century, the human response to stress and danger has been defined as “fight or flight.” A 2000 UCLA study by several psychologists noted that this research was based largely on studies of male rats and male human beings. But studying women led them to a third, often deployed option: gather for solidarity, support, advice. They noted that “behaviorally, females’ responses are more marked by a pattern of ‘tend-and-befriend.’ Tending involves nurturant activities designed to protect the self and offspring that promote safety and reduce distress; befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process.” Much of this is done through speech, through telling of one’s plight, through being heard, through hearing compassion and understanding in the response of the people you tend to, whom you befriend. Not only women do this, but perhaps women do this more routinely. It’s how I cope, now that I have one.” – Rebecca Solnit in The Mother of All Questions
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” – Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
p.s. brand-new addition to Quotation Central - a collection of quotations about conversation / connection / silence