Is social interaction actually bad for most of us?

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tjr1243
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04 Dec 2013, 6:06 pm

There is a lot of hype out there about how close social relationships are correlated with happiness. People who have more friends / close connections are happier.

Thus, even those of us on the spectrum are encouraged to try interacting with people, in the hopes that we will gain social skills and meet this universal human desire.

However, I'm quickly learning that this desire is not universal, but not sure how well most of us would do with no human interaction at all.

My theory is that for those of us who have failed so far and have at least 30 years of failure to show for it - there comes a point where it is counterproductive to keep trying. Simply because, the human interaction we do get if we DO try, is mostly detrimental.

In other words, I believe that being around people does me more harm than good, because I simply don't get enough acceptance from others.

A minority may like and accept me, but I've never enjoyed a close relationship, so the gains would not be worth the upsets.

What do you think? Do you think that for most of us on the spectrum, it is better to hide most of the time?



Willard
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04 Dec 2013, 6:35 pm

I think it depends entirely on who you are socializing with. If you have friends who are also on the spectrum, you can have a great time hanging out with them.

I think the idea that throwing an autistic person into an NT gathering and believing that is going to cause them to improve their social skills is utter BS. You cannot change the wiring of your brain just because you wish for it to be so.

Even at my peak functionality, when I was surrounded by NT types who accepted me at face value, I was still the wallflower who stood silently in the corner and watched everyone else having a good time laughing and interacting with each other. I remained invisible, even when I wasn't being actively rejected, because being PRESENT did nothing to grant me that magical NT ability to INSERT MYSELF into the social activity. They knew who I was, they knew I was there and were fine with it, but I was still never one of them.



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04 Dec 2013, 9:21 pm

But isn't a main draw of Wrong Planet to provide social connectedness and understanding that isn't otherwise easily found? Because with the right people, connecting is possible, and it feels very good. But granted, this can be very hard to find, let alone hold onto for any length of time. Very hard. Sometimes seems, and maybe is, impossible for long stretches of time.



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04 Dec 2013, 10:15 pm

I agree with the original poster and the next two. I guess I am number 4. I am not wired for normal social interaction. Throwing me into a social situation has never made me skilled at social situations. I find social situations very uncomfortable. I get along best with my family when I am not with them. I do occasionally say hi to the neighbors, and talk to them a little on those rare occasions when I encounter them outside. I will also talk to people in stores and other businesses when I run errands. I can manage alright for those short time periods, but prefer to remain a hermit. I also post here, and at other web sites when I feel like it, so I get as much socializing as I want and can handle, which isn't much. In school, I had to be with, and interact with people all the time. More was definitely not better, but much worse. I also had to interact with people at work, but was able to keep most of the interactions work related. I kept the social side of work at a distance, so it usually wasn't as bad as school. The other kids at school were mostly like a pack of rabid rats. Best to be avoided. Although there were a few nice kids, I avoided most of them, too, as I have never been good at social stuff. There were a very, very few nice kids that I ever socialized with, and even then it was limited. I prefer being a hermit, with limited social interactions.



tjr1243
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04 Dec 2013, 10:23 pm

Waterfalls wrote:
But isn't a main draw of Wrong Planet to provide social connectedness and understanding that isn't otherwise easily found? Because with the right people, connecting is possible, and it feels very good. But granted, this can be very hard to find, let alone hold onto for any length of time. Very hard. Sometimes seems, and maybe is, impossible for long stretches of time.


It is true, Wrong Planet does provide social connectedness and understanding. It has generally been a positive experience for me personally. Real life interaction is a different story, because I have to deal with negative people and experiences that aren't easy to escape from. In real time, there may be a few positive people, but the rejection from most others overpowers the atmosphere, and i never feel like i have enough people in my corner to compensate for it.



em_tsuj
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05 Dec 2013, 2:13 am

Stress kills! For me, the stress that comes with a lot of social interaction or even anticipating social interaction, hurts my body. I prefer to be completely alone except for a few minutes of social interaction each day--something casual, not intimate. I agree with you, the original poster. Too much social interaction is bad for us because it causes too much stress and anxiety.



Joe90
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05 Dec 2013, 12:41 pm

Social interaction actually does do me good. If I have had a ''social'' day at work, where a lot of people that I like were in that day and I had a lot of conversations with them and were in the staff canteen at the right time with people that included me in conversations, I come out of work feeling very good and in a happy mood. If a day at work comes where there are a lot of unfriendly type of people in that day who don't really speak to me, and there's a funny atmosphere with the managers that make the nice people afraid to talk to each other, I begin to feel lonely and a dull mood comes over me and I walk out feeling down and wanting to leave. So yes, the more social interaction I get, the more I feel happier. I'll give you a little social tip: If you give Christmas greetings cards out to the people (who are nice to you) at work, it can help your social skills. It gives you a chance to go up to somebody you like and hand them a Christmas card, which can improve your eye contact skills (if you struggle with that), and it can also make you feel like you are a nice person, and you are likely to get one in return too. I've been doing that, and each person I gave one to have said thank you to me. I even got a cuddle from one of them. It just makes you feel a whole lot better, and small things like that can do you a world of good - if you're the type of Aspie that craves social interaction and company.


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VAGraduateStudent
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05 Dec 2013, 1:59 pm

This is an interesting topic. I had a few separate thoughts:

-I room with a close family member who is an aspie. If he's had to do a lot of social stuff at work, it often exhausts him and he has to come home and be alone with a special interest for the rest of the night. We've also learned that we can't have a third roommate because then there's too many people at home, which should be a safe place.

-I'm NT, but I've noticed a VAST improvement in my well-being after not having to be around people I don't like for a few months. Not just people I actively dislike, but people I don't care about. It's irritating whether you're on the spectrum or not.

-Being a sociologist studying autism, I've studied a lot about what "social" means. In the sociology world, you can be "social" in person or not, on many different levels of interaction, and with non-human and non-animal objects. So one person's social needs might be met by going to a party full of people, another person's is met from sitting with a cat, and yet another person meets social needs by putting together a guitar. It's all interacting. The need for human interaction is a bit overemphasized, in my opinion.



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05 Dec 2013, 7:54 pm

em_tsuj wrote:
I prefer to be completely alone except for a few minutes of social interaction each day--something casual, not intimate.


Didn't you post on another thread that you were working on your clinginess? In what way are you clingy if you only like a few minutes of casual socializing per day?



vickygleitz
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06 Dec 2013, 3:10 am

I crave social interaction. With other autistics.



drivingstickshift
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15 Dec 2013, 10:12 pm

I have had to learn the hard way that the more I associate with people then I start having problems, for example I used to live in a house that was an employee type housing, one day the cable tv went totally out in the house and all my roommates/coworkers all accused me of hacking the cable tv system in the house, also no one had their facts straight on the matter and I wound up getting fired for something I didn't do and loosing my housing, the other part of it is right now my current job I am going to have to start taking breaks alone because once I start associating with people I start having too many problems its almost like I have a target on me.

My neighbors where I currently live I notice they keep their distance from me and its only hi and bye most of the time, the only time I don't have problems is I have learned if I keep to myself, also I don't want to be view as a loner but its out of choice because of too many things that have gone on in the past.

Also as far as being in a social group of NT I do feel like I am invisible to people, they will talk to me but then everyones talking and I am off to the side not having any social interaction.



ForeverChanging
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15 Dec 2013, 10:42 pm

I would love to be more social, personally. It's only that I tend to be so Selfish, Shy and Suspicious.

Also I'm too reflective, too introspective, and that's pretty much the death of social interaction. How can I talk with someone else when I'm constantly having a back-and-forth with myself ? An inner-dialogue ? It's like talking to two people at once. Myself (or my subconscious, or different parts of me, or whatever), and another person outside of myself.

If I ever were to make friends I would have to get over these things. Being aloof and disinterested in other people just seems to be a manifestation of these various issues. It's great for a while, especially if you're a really creative person, but in the long term, you'll never really get anywhere in life, I think, if you can't engage or work with other people.

Really it's kind of my fault I am the way I am. I let the past drag me down, when I could be working on building up my future.



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15 Dec 2013, 11:27 pm

You know, it really isn't that bad for me. It's the anxiety beforehand that screws with me. And the anxiety and over analyzing that screws with me after.


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aspiemike
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15 Dec 2013, 11:40 pm

I have found the more anxious, or the more depressed I am.. the less social interaction I desire. I may be diagnosed, but I don't find that my social skills are bad. I do find that I am less likely to communicate with people I don't care for. I also find that I only communicate with a few people at work as well. I keep in touch with those who are friendly and approachable and caring out of the friends I have outside of work. I dont make the effort with those who dont make any effort themselves. No point.

Like a previous poster mentioned... I dont find social life to be as exhausting when I lose someone I don't care for or someone who is too demanding in some of my experiences I have had. In fact, i have also noticed better mental health and physical health when these people are gone.


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WaraFujiAng
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16 Dec 2013, 5:44 am

When interacting with the right people, my negative thinking goes away. But most people drain me. It sucks, but I think you have to learn how to overcome bad interactions in order to find the right people.



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16 Dec 2013, 5:44 am

I don't know. I gave up trying because I was so stressed out by trying to fit in, but now I think I'm going crazy from lonliness.