In response, I think I produced a nervous giggle and then rolling my eyes ventured, “Uh… ya… about that, I think I am already at the farthest edge of my technological ability, and I don’t even own an iphone or a blackberry, and I certainly don’t text!”
“You can use Twitter on your computer.”
And… because I love a challenge, or I am comfortable with the uncomfortable, or because I am avoiding fitness class of late, or, well I don’t know – but now I seem to be tweeting and learning a whole new set of unwritten social rules that apply in this new arena.
I was thinking of how this experience mirrors that of H and others with social thinking challenges. The difference however is that, unlike my son who is on the Autism spectrum, I have an understanding that there might be social rules or expectations about which I am unaware. I can just sense it and when I am aware that that I might be unaware – I step carefully and with caution. In this particular situation I am observing and inferring and making connections about what I am seeing others do and the thinking of others that is likely behind this. When I think I may have stepped outside the unwritten rules – I check by asking someone, or observing more closely before my next move. I am fortunate that I have a natural understanding that others will be thinking thoughts about me based on my actions and behaviours. I also know that others’ minds may hold the answers to my growing lists of questions. In spite of these strategies, I have a made a couple of minor gaffs, but those affected were most understanding because they could glean that I am new to this realm and they offered support, not condemnation.
My child needs this kind of support regularly – not for twitter of course – but for social interactions, visits to the local pool, and hanging out with peers, to name just a few. He needs help in understanding that others will have thoughts about him based upon what he says and the way he acts, and that what is going on in his mind is not necessarily the same as everyone else. We all have our own thoughts and sometimes H misses that. It would be so wonderful if all of us involved in the greater social realm would offer people with challenges such as this support instead of condemnation – because every new encounter is just that – new. More than that, every new encounter is an opportunity for H and others like him to gain a little skill, and for the rest of us to gain a little insight and understanding.
Hmmmm…. so I was thinking that maybe I am not much of a Tweeter, perhaps more of a chirper (or if I’m really riled up – then perhaps a squawker). I was also thinking that I need some kind of framework or set of rules so that I will know how to conduct myself without unintentionally offending the cyber-world of Twitter.
So I am going to start one and to commemorate this moment I am creating a new word: TweEtiquette!
The TweEtiquette Communication Codebook:
• Do not steal any fellow tweeter’s original tweet. You can repost it- but you have to credit the original thought to the original tweet.
• If others follow you- you can reply “Thanks for the follow...”
• It seems as though you can repost a link without retweeting it by going to the original source, and I am noticing that this is considered OK (however – I am not entirely certain).
• You can’t message anyone who is not following you.
• Often people you follow will follow you back – chances are, the inverse of this is expected (a sort of social reciprocity, or symbiotic relationship)
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2011)