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Torley_Wong
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21 Jun 2004, 3:59 pm

hehe... couldn't find a way to post this directly, so here goes:

snip snip snip








Gregarious Humans - the need for friendship... my personal observations


Fundamentally, "gregarious" sounds like a complicated word but it just means you like to have friends around and be in the company of others. You can check the dictionary for a more elaborate definition, but I'll just give it to you straight and emphasize that there are definitely times where you want -- and need -- to be alone, but the same holds true for times when you may feel lonely, deep inside you -- even if you're in self-denial about it! -- and you secretly long for friendship. Or similarly, you may not feel ready for a relationship of that kind in close physical proximity in the real world, but you nevertheless want to be acknowledged and share in the happiness that comes from being with others and engaging in conversation and group hugs and such. :)

If you have Asperger's, no doubt this may have proven to be even more difficult for you throughout the years because you identify yourself as a "loner" or someone who does not play well with others. Understandable. I went through this as well. I must tell you, the risks are great and the reality is that potential rejection lies around every turn, but the rewards are even greater. One purpose of wrongplanet.net is to build an online community for those with Asperger's and others who wish to discuss about it and around it (tangentially speaking), and this, while limited to online contact initially, leads to very real people connecting with each other in very real ways. In other words, count on this NOT being an automated AI construct conversing with itself... so feel free to explore the forums and check out the rest of the site. That's a type of important discovery.

Now, speaking of discovery, self-discovery is also very important. Knowing yourself, knowing where you stand, and knowing what you want out of life are all helpful in increasing your awareness of what is in fact a really busy, and chaotic world. And being an Aspie (a cute informal term for someone with Asperger's Syndrome), I speak from personal experience when I say that friends sometimes give me a much-needed figurative kick in the ass when I'm too harsh on myself and have a problem reaching out by myself, and get me to see what's good and fun in the world... and they encourage me to hang out with them. Everyone has their down moments, and sometimes you just can't get yourself out of that rut -- you need friends, people who will be there when you're at your lowest and won't condemn and abandon you. People you can be there for as well to pull outta the quicksand of life, because friendship is all about giving and giving back. But what do you have to give back, you might say? I'll continue.

I can obviously only speak from personal experience, but I do know that my unique sense of humor and observations on the world, not to mention my increasingly confident personality, have cheered up many people in my life. Together, we are all like pieces of the puzzle put together, like the Seven Samurai or the Power Rangers or the X-men or (insert other superhero & superheroine team here). We can look out for one another in different ways! A good friend can get you to consider possibilities in life that you had *never* even considered before, not to mention potential opportunities for growth that you couldn't make it through alone. A good friend can motivate you in a feedback energy-loop sort of way to better yourself, and as you do so, your friend will be motivated in turn as the goodness bounces back. Yes, it sounds sappy, but it is so freakin' true, and there is no doubt in my heart that you'd rather be happy than sad. Even aliens need friends -- many sci-fi movies are a testament to this... remember E.T.? I'll give a more recent example and tie it in with something else, as this is one of my favorites: the technologically advanced Asgard "gray" aliens on the show Stargate SG-1 are literally light-years beyond human development in a number of ways, yet they are allies of the Tau'ri (Earthlings) because the Earth people can think in ways they cannot when it comes to dealing with intergalactic problems. Not to mention, Thor the Asgard seems fond of Earth humor ;)

I'm going to go off on a bit of a tangent here and then tie things back in neatly together. By now, you are likely wondering, "but how do I make friends?" There are a number of good guides out there which can help, but you have to recognize, that ultimately, you have to respect and care about yourself as a unique individual before anything further happens. And a good foundation for this is looking at your strengths as a human being and really refining them. One quick and easy but effective thing I like to say is: MAKE YOUR OBSESSIONS WORK FOR YOU. It's a very common thing for Aspies to have obsessions, really focused interests in specific areas. Well, what are yours? Into computers? Astrophysics? Renaissance-era literature? Well, whatever your interest, there are interest groups both on the Net and in the real-world where you can connect into those hubs -- and not only will your passion for your obsessions grow, but you'll be connecting with other people who SHARE those passions, and everyone will learn something from each other! It's absolutely delightful. And oh yeah, sometimes, the more specific the obsession, the better, since you can get into really deep conversations about what's going on and really relate on a personal basis this way. It's an odd correlation, but true! But do what works for you. If you're shy to meet at a conference of some sort in real life, then start online -- it's easy to join some forums and post some messages. You're prolly already doing this! And go from there, it's a process of little steps. But whatever you do, remember: MAKE YOUR OBSESSIONS WORK FOR YOU.

A lot of Aspergians are frustrated because they have this keen, wild-under-the-magnifying-glass obsession going for them, but no one to share it with. This is why you get to know new people, so not only will you both grow sharing your collective obsession, but you may discover new obsessions (which I totally mean in a positive way) and get into all sorts of delicious discoveries along the way. They say the journey is the adventure, and I say that's right! You have to take that first step, and the second step, and the third step, and soforth and soforth. It becomes easier from there because you become more accustomed to dealing with the potholes on the highway of life. And pay attention to what makes you happy -- please, for crying out loud, DON'T get involved in lengthy flamewars with elitist snobs online. It's a waste of your precious time & energy, and you should be spending that in a more valuable fashion by communicating with the nice people who matter to you, aka your friends! (Read Dan's article on here, "How To Stop Bullies", for pointers.)

I got something I teasingly call OotM, which stands for Obsessions of the Month(s). I get interested in new things and really zoom into them. Recent obsessions have included the mogul Donald Trump (and yes, his hair) and figure skater Sasha Cohen (and her ice cream fixation), and thanks to two of my friends, I also got into the show Stargate SG-1 and am completely nuts about it at the moment. See, I'm going somewhere with this! After learning more about SG-1 from my friends, I was hooked, and immediately signed up for Stargate mailing lists and forums ( http://www.gateworld.net ) and trawled the Net in search of all kinds of information, including prop details and esoteric character databanks (I am a very busy man, so this was not easy to do -- but I do make way for my obsessions, and again, I make them work for me!). Now, I have gotten to know many more people also deeply interested in the show and have made new friends.

Remember, an online friend is still a friend... the medium of communication is different from the traditional face-to-face or telephone (and remember, even this is a fairly recent invention), but people's thoughts + feelings are real and visceral and you are reaching out to fellow human beings out there. Never forget that! And never forget that there is NO substitute for real-life interaction, so if you can have "the best of all worlds", so to speak, go for it. Make friends locally, make friends from lands far away... it's all good. Who knows, someday you may meet up with some of us from here *wink* ;)

Now, I'm going to wax on about my love of this show, Stargate SG-1. In case you're not familiar with it, it is, at its core, a show about friendship. There are four main characters who form the main team called SG-1, and their mission is to explore new worlds through the Stargate -- a gateway to other planets -- and acquire new technology for Earth's benefit. That's only part of it though. The character dynamics of the show are incredible, and it's not always a bed of roses either. There are some very true-to-life conflicts, and the same can be said for resolutions. The characters do not seem to have much in common at times (for example, a brainy astrophysicist woman and a snarky laid-back military man), but it is their common mission and time spent together that unifies them and makes them more then the proverbial sum of their parts. I guess it goes to show that friendships are tested over the years, and the friendships which can withstand all that adversity and still stay bonded together over the years are the best ones. Stargate is going into its 8th season now and I look forward to watching it with my friends, along with the spin-off Stargate: Atlantis. I know there are some nights in the future where I'm going to make sorry excuses for not hanging out with them because to this day I still sometimes have a hard time "getting my stuff together", but I'm sure they'll give me that well-deserved kick-in-the-ass to hang out. It's like those normally sedate chemicals, that when you mix them, they get all volatile and go BANG!! ! That's what I'm talking about, baby!

So, what I gotta say to you is: don't be afraid to acknowledge when you wanna be with someone. And yes, this goes for romantic "more than friends" relationships too, which are out of the scope of this writing but I wanted to mention them too, as an extension of what I'm talking about. There is absolutely NO shame and NO weakness in wanting to be with people in your life you're comfortable with, and can share with. The weakness comes when one is too arrogant to admit that he/she needs friends, and face it, humans are not meant to be isolated and alone. Evidence of this is the fact that solitary confinement is regarded as such a terrible punishment in prison. Suuure, I've met Aspies who have said they want to be alone. Some of the time? Alright. I like sitting alone too. But all of their lives, 24/7, 7 days a week, 12 months a year? That tells me something's wrong right there.

I don't believe "making friends" should ever be a mechanical process -- it should NOT be deliberately planned in some rote, robotic way, because that's not the way it works. In life, you often incidentally end up meeting some people you get along with especially well, despite all your quirks and eccentricies, and one thing leads to another. It all looks easy in hindsight, but like I said, speaking from personal experience, MAKE YOUR OBSESSIONS WORK FOR YOU, and connecting on shared interests is a great way to lay down those first blocks leading up to the pinnacle of your pyramid of achievement as a gregarious human.

This is just the start, and it just might also be the start of some beautiful friendships for you!

Best of hope, and thank you graciously for reading.

:D



alex
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21 Jun 2004, 4:23 pm

Wow! This is an excellent article. I will put it into the "The social world"category unless you have another classification for it. Bravo! In my opinion, this is the best article we have posted so far on WrongPlanet.net! (no offense to Dan or myself) :lol: The approach you have taken integrating the article with Stargate SG1 is very effective. Alright, I've posted it!


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Torley_Wong
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21 Jun 2004, 6:25 pm

Good classification, and thanks! Glad ya like it :)

Wow, it was up fast. Only thing I'd suggest is that... it looks a bit different without the original smileys (which I put in there to foster a bit more emotion) but it's your call.

Thanks again.



alex
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22 Jun 2004, 9:06 am

Torley_Wong wrote:
Good classification, and thanks! Glad ya like it :)

Wow, it was up fast. Only thing I'd suggest is that... it looks a bit different without the original smileys (which I put in there to foster a bit more emotion) but it's your call.

Thanks again.


Oops. I didn't mean to remove the smileys. I just copied and pasted the article into the section before adding paragraph blocks. We don't have native graphical smiley support in the content section, although I could add them as html images if you want me to, or Dan could code the php to add native support (although I don't think many people have smileys in articles so it might be more efficient just to add them as images in html). Its your call. Tell me whether you'd like me to do that or not. Once again, thanks for the awesome article.


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Torley_Wong
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23 Jun 2004, 12:19 pm

Yeah, if you could, whatever way is the most efficient and convenient for you -- having the smilies in there would be great! Just that extra something ;)

You're totally welcome!



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23 Jun 2004, 12:49 pm

Well...it's supposed to be an article...a piece of writing. I think the articles section on our site is supposed to be slightly more polished than the forums and stuff. Smilies would just seem odd. But I dunno.



Torley_Wong
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23 Jun 2004, 12:53 pm

Oh, it would definitely seem odd -- I believe that is the point :)... because the rest of my writing style is angular and odd too. I guess it's an Aspie thing? ;)

Hmmmmmm...

My main reason being, it can be hard to get emotion out of text sometimes (even moreso for Aspies?)... hence why emoticons are used.

What do you think?



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23 Jun 2004, 1:27 pm

Yeah, I can get understand emotion better out of emoticons than actual faces.



Torley_Wong
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23 Jun 2004, 2:00 pm

LOL, I just noticed -- thanks for emphasizing the ass-kicking ;)

Going to post another article now.



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23 Jun 2004, 2:05 pm

Torley_Wong wrote:
LOL, I just noticed -- thanks for emphasizing the ass-kicking ;)


Not a problem. :wink:



Captain_Brown
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13 Jul 2006, 3:15 pm

Good Job! :)



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26 Nov 2013, 3:46 pm

Is this the very dawn of Wrong Planet? I think we will never know... Seven years since it's abandonment. [places flower on this thread]