Hello, and welcome back to The Autistic Writer. It’s good to have you here. This week’s blog might be a little shorter than usual, as I’m not feeling well. Part of this is down to accidentally overdosing on a supplement that came with side-effects. Part of it is physical exhaustion. Part of it is the season of early sunsets, dark nights and miserable weather making me feel crappy. It’s just over six weeks to the shortest day of the year. I’m counting.
This week I want to talk about a couple of different issues that have the same underlying problem. Many people claim to not be political. They want to keep politics separate from sport, religion, or whatever. Some people don’t even vote. they claim to be totally not interested in politics. Unfortunately, there is no escape from how politics affects our lives. Not engaging with politics is a political decision.
We are approaching the start of football’s World Cup in Qatar. You might or might not be interested in football, but either way, you should be interested in Qatar. Since I found out I was autistic, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be part of a social minority. Correspondingly, I have improved my knowledge of issues I was previously ignorant of. Disability rights, and the rights of the LGBTQA+ communities spring to mind. These are aspects of human rights, of course. And human rights are a political issue. This brings us to Qatar. The abuse of migrant workers, the anti-homosexuality laws, slavery, and forced prostitution are just a small selection of the horrors of Qatar. The colossal death toll among migrant workers who built the stadiums for the forthcoming World Cup is atrocious. How this tournament is not being boycotted by all democratic nations is baffling. It is a stain on the reputation of all those nations attending. But money talks, doesn’t it? Football has an obscene amount of money flowing through the game.
Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool FC has been interviewed, saying football managers and players are not politicians, and should be allowed to just get on with playing in the tournament. He’s tried to swing blame onto journalists who he says did not write about the abuses in Qatar years ago. But that’s bullshit on two levels. First of all, as I said above, we can say we are not interested in politics, but politics still affects us. Anyone saying they are not political is, well, wrong. You’re political whether you like it or not, and whether you realise it or not. Playing in Qatar 22 is a political decision. The English FA is responsible for enabling the England football team to play in this tournament. FIFA is to blame for the tournament being held in Qatar. But the players also have personal responsibility, and should either be going on strike or retiring from international football if they want to do the right thing. Secondly, Mr Klopp, journalists have been writing about the human rights abuses in Qatar, all the way along.
My second topic this week is Twitter. The social media platform has been purchased by billionaire Elon Musk, and things are not good. I feel sorry for the many Twitter employees who have been sacked, although at some level you can understand a business decision made like this if a business is losing money. That’s what Musk claims, but I have no idea how true it is. Even if it is true and cuts were necessary, that hardly makes it easier on the people who have lost their jobs and face an uncertain future.
From a more selfish point of view, I’m concerned about the autistic community on Twitter. Many users are saying they will leave the platform. The fear is that the autistic Twitter community will disintegrate. Many of us have come to rely on the connections we have made on Twitter. The thought of losing this is quite terrifying. It wouldn’t be so bad if we could just uproot the whole community and transplant it to another social media platform, but that’s not possible. What I’m seeing right now is lots of people recommending different platforms, some of which I’ve never heard of. Different individuals claim to be setting up different servers or communities. I can’t see a future in which autistic people are maintaining the same level of online community and integration if it’s spread over dozens or more different online spaces. The strength of the community on Twitter has come from its size and mix. Deciding whether or not to stay on Twitter, in light of one’s feelings about Elon Musk and his plans for the platform, is a political decision: For many people, the decision will be made not on feelings of how good Twitter is as a social media function, how user-friendly it is, etc, but on how comfortable they are with Musk and his political agenda.
A lot of people think Musk has royally fucked up with the purchase of Twitter, and that he will mismanage it and lose money. If so, he will probably move on. Twitter protests could encourage him to cut his losses and run. If enough verified users refuse to pay the $8 monthly subscription to maintain their blue tick, and advertisers continue to withhold their support, then this might happen sooner rather than later. But we’ll have to wait and see. Personally, I just don’t want to lose the autistic community I feel part of.
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That’s all for this week. Until next time, take care.
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Why Do I Write This Blog?
When I first found out I was autistic, I was a middle-aged adult and I knew nothing about autism. I quickly learned that there was a serious shortage of information and resources for adults in my situation. With this blog, I aim to inform about autism and autism-related issues as I learn, hopefully helping people who are on a similar journey of discovery. Like anyone who writes a blog, I want to reach as many readers as possible; if you like what I’m doing, please share it with your friends and followers. I will never hide this blog behind a paywall, but running the website does incur costs. If you would like to support, feel free to make a small contribution at BuyMeACoffee.Com.
You might also be interested in David Scothern’s blog, Mortgage Advisor on FIRE, which covers a range of topics including mental health issues and financial independence.