I had an experience this afternoon that encapsulated social interaction today and how disconnected conversations alienate us and leave us feeling alone and disorientated.
While I was concentrating on my work, an email popped up from PayPal, which had my bank details in and a link to do something in my account. I panicked. The link made the email look just like phishing and it was unexpected and I was thinking about something else, but I had to see if it needed attention. It did. Too much. Just to find out if it was legit or not.
The context for the email was that, said in a way I could have understood it sooner and recognised it as not a spoof it could have saved a lot of aggro, I had cancelled a monthly direct debit to PayPal which I did not recognise as I did not know one-off payments to PayPal were marked as monthly.
subsquently, I posted my concerns on Facebook. I should have known better as no one really thinks much before speaking on social media. I take a lot of care to make sure I have understood something or if it requires more reading and scrolling I will say “this isn’t self-explanatory and so will not be able to give it the attention it needs right now”. This means I am interested but would need to give it more time and attention to know i have understood it.
The above may be just me, but I am freelance and so have to create my own structure for my day’s work. Also, I found out years after finishing education that I had Dyspraxia and therefore do not process things in the conventional way. However, I personally think it is good if people share their experiences and see if they can relate to others’ points of view too.
Sadly, Facebook seems to not always foster great connection.
A post that is a little invoices seems to get these types of responses:
1.people jumping to the conclusion that the email is a scam and giving advice on what to do, which I have already done and said so.
2. people asking for information already been given
3. people arguing with my point of view, saying it is wrong even though they have not shown they have understood the post in the first place.
4. Someone who focuses on an aspect, not the main point, of the post and shares their opinion about that, for instance the dictionary definition of a word used that isn’t relevant to the point.
5. People who share links that repeat the point of the post as if they are arguing with it when they’re making the same point.
6. People who don’t respond at all to the post and start spouting their own opinion on a loosely related topic.
For me as a person with Dyspraxia, I know I have had many struggles with communication and connection. I have been very scared of people, poised to flee a conversation, protecting myself against being misjudged, said what people want to hear, over-agreeing when I don’t agree and putting other people’s perspectives over my own. I have over-compensated today for tomorrow when I might get disorientated by trying to please everyone.
It has been a long, hard slug to emerge from amongst all of that. People who, perhaps, conformed in their education sometimes do not place the same amount of importance on communication and connection as someone who has struggled with it. I do not see the point in words being exchanged if new information is not being shared. To me, information unites people as it brings us together onto the same page, no matter how different from each other we may be. I believe there are more patterns of similarity than points of difference between people if everyone is allowed to share their point of view.
There does seem to be this pull from society to observe its protocols, even when they are wrong. To be uniform for some is to be safe. Whereas the real safety in numbers is by connecting and collaborating with other people.
People have assumed for years that people who are visual processors (those on the Autistic Spectrum and also how human minds have worked for 3 million yaers) lack social skills. This may be more about rejecting social norms, rather than lacking empathy. People can be very messy communicators and to understand someone properly you sometimes have to shut out all the noise.
It has been shown recently by scientists, in 2012 as discussed in this Guardian article, that altruism, being generous to others, is part of our evolutionary biology. That those who collaborated and worked with others were much more likely to survive then people who were selfish, as Psychology Today also reports, then even goes on to say that evolution does not reward selfish people.
What am I saying about selfishness? Is it that people who can be “mean behind the screen” are being selfish by talking without thinking first or considering other people’s feelings? Probably. I am saying that those who do thinking about themselves first or exclusively will often also not try to relate, understand or take responsibility for what they say. If you break protocol and are direct about it, saying “you cannot say I am daft for suggesting that as I did not suggest that at all” and they start finger pointing and telling you off.
When did we become such pansies in the UK? Or is it that our social protocols have allowed us to avoid getting direct responses from people? People who are on the autistic spectrum tend to be quite honest as the main part of our mental processing is thinking in pictures, not the verbal rules we learn at school, how to fit in, be uniform and follow instructions. To me, seeing a link in an unexpected email threw me before I read any words as it looked instantly like one of the many, usually scam, emails I receive, I just didn’t think with all the scams around that a financial company would ask someone to click a link into their account, which could lead us anywhere.A big trust ask.
It seems there are many professions that would benefit from people working together to find bigger answers, such as doctors, teachers, politicians, lawyers and scientists. It seems our education system has taught us to compete against people, even when we share self-interests. Our governments seem to want to ignore the nation and prevent groups – perhaps the opposition or unions – from forming and challenging their positions. Scientists want to prove that they are right instead of discovering new things. Educators don’t want everyone to learn, let alone learn how to learn.
The main part of connecting with others is being able to think about other people, to understand their point of view, to relate to their experiences and be able to respond so they can recognise we are not too different from them. When someone in customer service doesn’t understand what you are saying and keeps telling you that other people do not have the same problem is alienating. It makes someone feel alone and not understood.
Listening to other people and understanding where they are coming from is very comforting and when people can be themselves and feel safe to be real and honest, the magic of human co-operation can begin. .