Today, I let go of Facebook and Twitter. It was a long time coming. I’d been trying to convince myself that the benefits (access to friends) were worth the costs (brain fry), but it just isn’t so.
My autistic brain reads EVERYTHING. Walking down the street, I read all the words in my peripheral vision and store them in my brain space. I read the copyright warnings on DVD’s in a panic to reach the end before they disappear. I read signs, t-shirt slogans, car number plates. I absorb it all and it stacks in layers of my mind and jumps out at me while I meditate, while I fall asleep, while I’m working. It’s all in there.
I read your posts on Facebook. All of them. I read the titles of the links you post. I read about your dog, refugees, your cake recipe and the trauma in my autistic community. I don’t differentiate between any of them. Instead, my brain tells me that they are all of the same value and I must keep going until I read them all. Your picture of your dog visits me while I run. A refugee child appears in my dreams. The news of another autistic child hurt is my companion as I walk to work.
My brain matter has seemingly endless twists and curves where your stories lodge within it and lurk.
I experimented with options. I left groups, unfriended acquintances, tailored my news feed. None of it worked. Just knowing Facebook is there and I can access it meant I did.
My autistic brain on Twitter is a little like injecting speed. It’s fun. It’s a rush. It makes my jaw clench and my spine tingle. It gets FAST, convinced it has to make sense of all your hashtags and visit all your links and get to the end of the feed at which time there are more tweets so it starts all over again. I can see the data stream if I close my eyes. It glows iridescent green with different colours for hashtags. It doesn’t go to sleep. It never powers down.
It makes me anxious and cautious and a little afraid. It makes me wonder why I can’t stop checking even when I know it hurts. I love/hate it. It feels like a cigarette addiction where my brain needs a hit to make it through the day.
Your notifications trigger my dopamine and I lose control.
I know you struggle with it too. You tell me that you do. That you need to de-activate from time to time to take back your brain, to have a break from the anxiety you feel from absorbing all that information. From not having control over your choices.
I won’t miss your dog pictures. I’ll find my news elsewhere. I’m exploring other ways of keeping in touch with friends I care for. I’m subscribing to your blogs, old school style.
I’m taking back my brain and re-asserting my ability to overcome habits that hurt it. That turn its gifts into deficits.