[Originally posted in 2010, when the blog was still at weblog.nl]
My initial fears about the 'worldwide' action Communication Shutdown have been firmly confirmed. It's supposed to simulate what it's like to be autistic and thus generate empathy.... no wait... sympathy.... wait... I think I can translate that for you: pity. And we all know what we should do with pity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_On_Pity).
Here is what my country's autism society has to say about it:
"De boodschap is als volgt: laten we allemaal één dag wegblijven achter de computer. Of op zijn minst een dag niet met online communicatie bezig zijn. Sociale netwerken via internet, zoals Facebook, Twitter en Hyves, zijn natuurlijk ideaal voor veel mensen met autisme (maar ook zonder autisme) en vaak een prima alternatief voor het echte live-contact waar mensen met autisme vaak zon moeite mee hebben. Als we met zn allen nu eens die ene dag stilstaan bij hoe het is om autisme te hebben en op het gebied van sociale vaardigheden beperkingen te hebben, dan kan het zo vinden de initiatiefnemers achter Communication Shutdown naar twee kanten toewerken. Mensen zónder autisme worden zo met de neus op de feiten gedrukt wat het is om autisme te hebben, en mensen mét autisme worden uitgedaagd om eens uit hun schulp te kruipen en die dag echte contacten op te zoeken."
They talk about thinking about what it's like to be autistic for one day. They, and not just our particular organisation but this action to begin with, reduce it to 'social difficulties'. Yeah. 'social difficulties' are not my biggest problem, not even close, thanks. They say the action will show non-autistic people "the facts" and will challenge autistic people to 'come out of their shell and pursue "real" contacts for a day'. I give you just one guess what I have to say about that. Made your guess? Ok: "WTF Goddamn it, FUCK YOU!" That's what I think about that. 1) People on the internet are not my imaginary friends. 2) Yay, more pressure to get us to do what neurotypical people think is 'best for us'. Screw you so much.
This is what the communication shutdown site says (they also have a video, not subtitled, but the text sort of flashes by, which says pretty much the same thing with slightly more words):
"Can you get by without Facebook or Twitter, just for one day?"
Yeah, because that is, like, SUCH A HARDSHIP! OMG how will they make it through! The suffering!!!!11!1
Here is a link to their site:
This action will not teach people anything except maybe the wrong things.
It's also not really global. You have to have widespread internet connections and social networking sites for this to (not) work in the first place.
As I've already said before (on my other blog): I'd like an action that might actually have a snowball's chance in hell to even affect me in a marginally positive way: Get people (and I mean more than a handful of people who happen to hear about this action and use the internet regularly) to shut up for a day in meatspace. It's not meant to teach them very special lessons about how much social communication sucks for us, since they're not going to get that anyway. It's meant to give people some actual relief. Better yet: get them to shut off that fucking music they have playing everywhere in stores and public spaces for a day... or forever. It would be a start. Then we'll work on the lighting next.