Monday, February 25, 2013

Question the algorithm

  This breathtaking post from Musing of an Aspie for the Autistic People Should... flash blog inspired a lot of deep thought in myself and others.  It quite frankly inspired me to contribute to the blog when I was not sure it was my place to.
   Deceivingly Normal observed that the phenomenon of extremely negative automatic suggestions with Google was not limited to Autism, but seems to occur with any group of people you type in there (Whites too).  I am not posting screenshots, but the results are consistent, feel free to try for yourself.  Google search suggests that we all get our acts together or be purged.
   Google is a business. Its business is dominating social media, and business is good.  Hell, Google owns the service I am making this blog on.  Are we to believe that the internet is dominated by trolls searching for ways to insult, marginalize and even kill every ethnic group they are not a member of, and that is why these auto completes return such shocking results?
   Or perhaps, some racist/sexist/ableist trolls sparked a match, and Google drove up next to the match with a full tanker of unleaded gasoline.

Sensationalism sells  

Death sells

Controversy sells

  "Autistic people should get hugs" will not generate as much attention as "Autistic people should be exterminated".  We question the experts, we question the haters, we question the stereotypes.  It is time to question the machine feeding them.  I argue that the algorithm Google and other search engines use searches for and feeds negative buzzwords into autocomplete in order to generate hits.  And while generating hits and revenue, it also feeds the hatred and bigotry that Autistics, and every minority has to put up with, because hatred sells.   

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Autistic people should....

 Trigger Warning: Bullying

   I have spent a lot of time over the past week thinking about what my answer to that should be, or even if I have a right to answer it.  The investigations that led to my self diagnosis began after last thanksgiving, and I came to my conclusion right around christmas.
   That moment gave me a brief liberation, as I finally had a word that described me.  I was an "aspie".  YAY!!!!
   Then the reality set in.  I found out I was a camouflaged member of an extremely marginalized, abused and discriminated against group of people.  I felt unworthy,  I felt like a coward.  I am "passing".
   I learned to start passing in 2nd grade.  I had many awkward moments in K and 1st but I was not friendless and antisocial, just weird.  In 2nd we were given group assignments.  I did not feel comfortable in the group and I would stare at the floor, flap my hands and scratch myself through most of the morning.  One of the "cool" kids took to imitating me in front of the class.  The teasing and bullying became contagious.  People who were my friends for the last 2 years took to mocking me.  One day after school, a bunch of kids.  It was probabaly 10 or 15 kids but at the moment I thought it was 100.  They stood about 30 feet away, some behind trees and booed me.  A few threw rocks and pine cones.  A few were the same kids that voted me class president the year before.  My teacher started sending me to the school psychiatrist daily.  I wonder what diagnosis was on the table?  I spent a lot of my time there, but nothing I know of came of it.  
   I felt like I wasn't smart anymore, I wasn't good anymore. In 3rd grade I spent my lunch hours with a speech therapist, because I had developed a lisp and I spoke out of place in conversations.  I realized being myself was being loathed by others,  so I figured out the best thing I could do was be invisible.  I became conscious of my flapping.  I stopped raising my hand in class.  I answered wrong on purpose sometimes.  I opted for the library over the playground or spent recess time in the bathroom.  It took a long time to learn to disappear.  I was picked on for my eccentricities throughout school.  I had severe meltdown issues my first year in college as I felt forced to socialize (party) nightly with my peers.  Sophomore year I opted for a solo dorm rather than a roommate and got approved.  I made occasional public appearances as to maintain the fact that I was not dead, but I had finally succeeded.  I disappeared.
  I disappeared so well that no one noticed when I dropped out of college 2 years later.  I supported myself working night shift at a 24 hour fast food place.  I job hopped for years.  Out of desperation I took a pressure sales job at an electronics retailer.  Fortunately, they had good sales training with how to videos.  I established a formula for eye contact and making small talk and actually became an above average performer, though the anxiety I felt was overpowering.  I eventually quit that job and holed myself up for 7 months with saved money.
  None the less, I learned to pass, to hide myself and appear "normal" in that fashion.  Anything I did that was abnormal, like head rocking, flapping, listening to repetitive video game music and hip hop beats over and over for hours I discussed with no one ever.  I watch news so I have something to discuss if ever engaged by anyone in small talk.  I have learned to deflect conversations and questions about myself.  I wear nondescript clothing showcasing none of my interests...

   Getting to the topic of this flash blog thingy (I am very new at this!).  I don't know very many autistic people besides myself. And I relive these past experiences with the new found knowledge and wisdom that I am Autistic.  And I read the incredibly heart wrenching things that self advocates have to say about their experiences from these blogs.  All I can say is that:

  Autistic people should be Free.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reality crafting

Trigger Warnings: Murder, Violence against women 

 This is going to be a blog mostly about autism that I hope someday somebody reads once I figure out what the hell I am doing.  However I am going to go way off topic and talk about a story from the sports world today because I think it is pertinent to this recent post I made, this post on Radical Neurodivergence Speaking and to the plight that many minorities in general face.

  Today I woke up to the disheartening news that double amputee olympian Oscar Pistorius has been arrested for shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp 4 times fatally.

"Blade Runner" Pistorius charged with murdering girlfriend

  Pistorius was presented to the public as an inspiration by the global media and became a huge sensation over the last few years as he strove to compete in London last summer, and succeeded.  At face value it is an inspirational story.  An inspirational story that generates a lot of sales and views on sports media sites, and a lot of ratings for the Olympics.

  I could hardly fault mass media if Pistorius did this out of the blue.  But, Policewoman Denise Beukes told the reporter :
"I can confirm that there has previously been incidents at the home of Mr Oscar Pistorious, of allegations of domestic nature,"

  So wait a minute!  You mean to tell me that in the countless hours the media has spent "presenting" this man's inspirational tale over the past several years, not a single reporter discovered that he has a history of violence against women?  In this day and age where TMZ can tell us how many times Miley Cyrus used a public toilet in the last 2 weeks and the exact locations, no journalist could dig this information up?

   Woman beating kind of creates a problem when you are trying to craft the heroic legend of the "Blade Runner".  Media turns a blind eye to the truth when the truth complicates or completely negates the end story they are trying to manufacture.  
   Pistorius did a night in jail in 2009 for slamming a door on a woman.  Charges were dismissed as a "misunderstanding".  No leading sports journalist could bring this up on one of the hundreds of times he has been interviewed?

   The media loves to build you up until they can't sell you anymore.  Then they tear you down with equal passion.  The article mentions several times his not so often previously reported love for firearms and his competence handling them, painting the picture that he is absolutely guilty of a crime.  There is a chance, a slim chance that this was a tragic accident.  His defense was that he mistaken her for a burglar.  Crime rates are obscene in South Africa.  Facts need to come out and there needs to be a trial.  Instead of defending their golden boy though, the media is already passing a guilty verdict in this case.  And they do so by reporting details of his life that they conveniently omitted when creating a hero.  

   Finally, this article's ending is extremely mysogynistic.  
"Oscar is a good guy, an upstanding neighbor, and if he is innocent I feel for this guy deeply,"

   So he is a good guy and an upstanding neighbor whether or not he beat women in his home or shot Reeva on purpose or not?

  My deepest condolences to Reeva Steenkamp and family.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shaping the World in Their Vision

   Throughout history, minority groups that do not fit into the status quo of a society have been discriminated, marginalized and eliminated.  The struggle of autistics to gain acceptance is not a new struggle, it is as old as humanity itself.  Some minority groups have advocated and survived.   Some have even joined it.  When enough people become fed up with the status quo, it can even change (American Revolution).  But as we now see in America, a new status quo is developed and over time it becomes a new means to the same end.
   Most people in life choose a voluntary ignorance.  They go on with their daily struggles and leave societal judgements and decisions in the hands of leaders and the media while they go on with their day.  These statements are presented and accepted as fact by the public.   Facts and data can be manipulated or omitted to create the picture the media wants to sculpt.  Journalism is art.  Just as a sculpture is made from the manipulation of real stone,  journalism is crafted from the manipulation of real facts.  In the hands of those looking to preserve their status, it is a dark art.
  So who determines the status quo of our society?  The public itself?  I don't believe so.  I believe the norm is established through media and art and accepted as canon by most people.  Those who create forms of media to be consumed by the public have the power and make the rules. That is good because American media and most of the global media is free now, right?  Nope.  The media is not free at all.  It is controlled.
   I read this infographic on a blog that has absolutely nothing to do with autism. I then realized that it has absolutely everything to do with the struggles of autistics.  Six corporations control 90% of what you see, read and watch every day, and many of them have shared agendas.  All of them want to preserve their source of power, influence, affluence and cash.  That source is the reality we live in.  The rhetoric of tragedy sells, and keeps a community of people that number in the millions.  A community that already has a problem communicating with language absolutely silent.  It is also a community that tends towards free thinking and unique perspectives.  A community that threatens the status quo.