Internet vs Face to Face Communication

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Stargazer43
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10 Dec 2012, 1:46 am

It's a shame we can't type when we talk to people in real life lol! Actually I guess you could, but that would be a bit weird.



whirlingmind
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10 Dec 2012, 6:02 am

Jinks wrote:
Hey guys,

I'm wondering if other people experience such a huge disconnect as I do between their ability to communicate online (via text) and their ability to communicate face to face.

I watched a great video (link) about a low-functioning autistic girl who was non-verbal and apparently unresponsive, but when she was taught how to type her family discovered to their amazement that she was extremely lucid and intelligent and could communicate in text very well (she is now writing a book). One of the reasons it's interesting is that it calls into question a lot of the things which have always been assumed about low-functioning autistics - it makes me wonder how many other "low-functioning" autistics are very intelligent people and no one realises it because all they see is the hand flailing and inability to communicate in the typical way - but that aside, it also made me go "wow, that explains it".

I say this because I find typing communication and face-to-face communication to be completely opposite experiences. I have always had a very rich social life on the internet. In text, I come over as confident, friendly, funny and intelligent, and other people are drawn to me and want me around. In face-to-face interaction, I stumble over words, have difficulty articulating myself, can't make eye contact, couldn't make a joke if my life depended on it, and routinely repel, annoy and bewilder other people with my behaviour. I understand the differences - in text there is none of the confusing social behaviour stuff, I have as long as I need to consider my responses (I find that people go to fast for me in regular conversation), and I'm not overloaded by the things going on in my environment, so the conversation has my complete focus. Of course my experience is to a less severe degree, as I'm high-functioning, but I completely identified with Carly's situation.

I was telling my psychotherapist about a time I got up the courage to meet an online friend in real life and that, despite my warning him beforehand, he didn't seem to be able to get his head around the fact that I was the same person, because the difference is so dramatic. She seemed interested in this (or at least, she was making lots of notes about it). It's bizarre to have my relationships with people divided this way.

So, I want to know if other people can identify with this situation too. Anyone care to share their thoughts or experiences?


This is how it is for me, really hard in person and so very easy in text. I panic when I have to explain or talk about things in person, my mind becomes unfocused, I find it hard avoiding awkward silences, I forget what it was I wanted to say, I don't say the things I wanted to say and because I force myself to look at people it's ten times worse. I have discovered that by not looking it becomes easier, although still nowhere as near as easy as by text. Does this mean we relate more to machines than other humans I wonder...


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whirlingmind
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10 Dec 2012, 6:04 am

Ca2MgFe5Si8O22OH2 wrote:
I also much prefer communication that can contain hyperlinks since it allows complicated thoughts and feelings to be nested in a way that people can understand an extremely complex flow of information that would otherwise have been interrupted repeatedly with side-trails to explain things.


Oh I do that terribly, veer off at tangents to explain every little detail so the listener gets the full picture, because it's important that they understand every little bit to see the whole experience as I did. My husband gets really annoyed and impatient with me.


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Verdandi
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10 Dec 2012, 6:24 am

Stargazer43 wrote:
It's a shame we can't type when we talk to people in real life lol! Actually I guess you could, but that would be a bit weird.


Some people do this. There are text to speech programs available for people who need them.



Mummy_of_Peanut
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10 Dec 2012, 6:31 am

With me, what you get on here is the real me. In face to face interactions (unless it's one to one or with very close family) I'm unable to just be me. I worry constantly about what I'm saying and how I'm coming across, can't access basic vocabulary, so stutter and roll my eyes into my head, veer off at tangents, repeat myself over and over, talk for 10 mins about something which should have taken less than a minute... And if I'm speaking about something with emotional content, chances are I won't be able to say what I'm thinking at all and might even start crying.


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10 Dec 2012, 6:42 am

shyengineer wrote:
I prefer written communication far more than spoken and I'm much better at it.

I've noticed many people who are very good speakers are poor writers because opposite skills are involved - writing is slow and detailed while speaking is quick and flexible. While I may not be the best speaker, I can't understand how people can't even respond properly to an email.


That is a very interesting observation, I had noticed it too but the reason for it never occurred to me. Actually, I think I make judgements about people's intelligence based on the way they write/type and their spelling and grammatical errors the same way other people in my physical vicinity judge me based on my social awkwardness - I will have to try to stop doing that, since it's no better than what they are doing.

I've enjoyed the responses so far, it's great to know so many others experience the same thing. Before I understood my autism I couldn't understand for the life of me what was causing this extreme dichtomy, but at least there is now an explanation. "Shopping for the right audience" is very true as well! I'm bewildered by the ability of NTs to get along with any random person who comes along.

Callista, thank you for your interesting post. I particularly liked what you said about not judging the intelligence of autistic people based on their lack of social and verbal abilities - unfortunately NT people do base their judgements about intelligence and mental disability on how well autistic people are able to fit their methods of communication, and the idea that someone could be very intelligent yet not be able to perform to these standards does not seem to occur to many.

In the video I linked the autistic girl does her typing herself, but I see that it could get difficult if someone is so severely autistic that they cannot coordinate well enough even to type. I'd love to see some experiments with alternative forms of encouraging communication from non-verbal autistic people, such as the equipment used by Stephen Hawking. I will say I don't find it surprising that a non-verbal autistic person could suddenly come out with complex thoughts when offered a new medium to do so - the ability to have complex thoughts and the ability to verbalise them are very different things. However, I can certainly see the potential for fraudulent behaviour around this issue, which I think makes it even more important to offer as many ways for the autistic person to communicate independently as possible.



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10 Dec 2012, 9:40 am

I'm exactly the same. In person, it's really easy for my mind to go blank if I don't have a good idea of what the conversation is gonna be about. Typing is so much easier because there is more time to think about the question and formulate my response. There's also less anxiety when I'm not actually with the person I'm talking to, so I feel like I can be more open about sharing my thoughts.


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MjrMajorMajor
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10 Dec 2012, 10:12 am

I have a pretty large disconnect also, to the point where I have lost speech completely on some occasions. In this day and age of people texting each other across the same dinner table, I wouldn't mind bypassing conversation altogether. It sure doesn't do me any favors. :?



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10 Dec 2012, 10:30 am

I lost speech after a shutdown seven and a half hours ago.

I guess right now internet communication is significantly easier for me. This is longer than usual, but it'll probably be back after I've slept.



ianorlin
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10 Dec 2012, 10:52 am

I find both easier than talking on the phone. Although I can type sometimes when I get too angry to talk. Although I wonder if there is a phone where I can type and have my answers said on the phone. I don't really like texting either and perfer internet irc.



Nesf
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10 Dec 2012, 12:38 pm

I can express myself much more fluently online because I have time to come up with a response but still find instant messaging quite demanding.



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10 Dec 2012, 2:10 pm

I sometimes find in written communication I have more difficulty in initiating. Also I tend to leave words out, which I don't do in speech. This tends to lead to lots of corrections and sometimes even corrections of corrections. However, I guess it does have the advantage that I can catch myself on if I'm not saying something in the way I'd like to. Also I find that more direct conversation can have the benefit of more rapid response to what I am saying, which can allow me to re-express something if the person I am talking to doesn't seem to understand what I am saying.



MasterGamer
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10 Dec 2012, 3:22 pm

I'm much more myself online than I am in person. I often have a hard time articulating what I want to say in face to face conversation. In written communication I have time to think of my answer, and I can revise. Can't do that in face to face speech. :/