Monday, July 23, 2012

Oops! I Breathed in the Wrong Direction!

When I was a kid, I experienced far fewer social conflicts online than in real life. That's because real life involves the social nuances of body language and voice tone. Today, my social conflicts are almost exclusively online. Usually, it pans out like this: I meet somebody through Facebook or reunite with somebody I haven't seen since childhood. We chat online once in a while. Sometimes, that person will even say, "I really like talking to you."  Next thing I know, the person has unfriended me or even blocked me. Usually, I just let it go, depending on who that person is and whether or not I had any real past with them, online or off, even if just for one summer at camp (I'm sentimental and nostalgic to a fault). Sometimes, however, I do ask for an explanation (if there is a way to contact that person) and I might even get one if I'm lucky. 

The top reason people have unfriended/blocked me is because I'm an atheist. I don't even have to ask to find out that this is the reason. Once, I was chatting online with someone I met through a mutual acquaintance who died. She wished me a Happy Easter. I told her I was Jewish, a Jewish atheist, to be exact. She asked me what that meant. I told her that I don't believe in God but I still value the Jewish culture in which I grew up. BAM! I was blocked. Other people have unfriended/blocked me because... gasp... I tagged them in photos. That's right, I tagged them in photos in which they are fifteen years old and not professional looking. When I contact them and ask them why, they say things like, "I'm not comfortable with being tagged." Well, gee, how about simply telling me that and NOT unfriending me? 

Probably the must hurtful of these situations happened about four years ago when I reunited with an old friend from camp online. We hit it off immediately and I developed a crush on him. I didn't tell him, of course, but he figured it out. He stopped answering my emails. He blocked me. A few months later, he unblocked me and accepted my friend request... but would not talk to me. He eventually blocked me again. For a whole year I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what the hell was going on. 

Just as hurtful (albeit for different reasons), my best friend from childhood, who I knew since 1992, stopped talking to me in 2008. I packed up and moved to NYC from my hometown in Pennsylvania in 1999, but we still saw each other about once a year. I knew she was going to get married in '08, and she definitely made it clear that I was going to be there. This was in 2007, the last time we spoke. 2008 came and went without an invitation. She rejected my friend request on MySpace. She no longer returned calls or answered emails. To this day I have no idea what happened. I even sent her an email asking her nicely why she did not invite me to the wedding or even talk to me anymore. I made it clear that I was hurt. No response. I still don't know what her rationale was for shutting me out, but I do know that it is not my fault. 

When these things happen, and inevitably hurt, I always hear, "Let it go." Sure. "Let it go." So I guess I should just say to myself, "Oh, fiddlesticks. I breathed in the wrong direction and some ultra sensitive person is shutting me out without explanation. I'll just let it go and make sure not to breathe in the wrong direction next time." I would suspect that this online drama is not unique to those with Asperger's Syndrome, but perhaps it bothers us more because we do not take friendship for granted. Perhaps, too, many are sentimental to a fault, as I am. In any case, I want to tell anybody who's reading this to be more sensitive to the person on the other side during this online nonsense. "Ignoring," is not communication, and "blocking," is little different than saying, "F--- you." Both say, "You are nothing to me." In online communication, you rarely know what happens at the other end, so this is not a case of missing body language or other cues. This is simply being kept in the dark. 

I am sure I speak for a lot of people-- with and without Asperger's Syndrome-- when I say that it is frustrating and irritating. It's like an online meme that I saw the other day: "I'm sorry that I did something that made YOU feel that I have to apologize."


  1. Online I often think "this must be what it is like to have Asperger's" I have a hard time reading people without seeing their body language or hearing their tone of voice. It makes it easy to misunderstand people and I am sure it causes lots of unnecessary drama for lots of people.

    1. I definitely agree. Has any of the stuff I mentioned happened to you?

  2. "I breathed in the wrong direction and some ultra sensitive person is shutting me out without explanation. I'll just let it go and make sure not to breathe in the wrong direction next time."


  3. I wanna say I am not Aspie, and removing from friends list just for beeing atheist, or tagging on pics is just unbelivable!
    It is surely not your fault at all, seems you just had bad luck to attract weird people.
    All I know true friend never blocks or ignore you , without word of explanation