Posted in Passing as Neurotypical, Social Rules

Looking Out For Number One: Even Nice Guys Do It

I have blogged before about watching old Survivor episodes and finding it interesting to learn about human nature within the context of a game. I strongly believe in the power of games to teach Autistics about social skills. While we’re doing something (not merely socializing), we can also look around and listen to other people and learn what they’re like in a context that makes some degree of sense to us. In watching Survivor, I think I’m finally starting to understand neurotypicals better. One big lesson is that neurotypicals always put themselves first.

The Central neurotypical Rule: I Am Number One

I suspect this should be obvious because when I say it, it seems so, but really, it hasn’t been that clear to me. Part of the problem, I think, is that I had internalized a lot of social rules about sharing and what is expected of me as a woman (girls are nice). But when I watch Survivor, I see being nice as a game. Strong game players will use niceness as a way to manipulate people, but they are always thinking about what they need.

I watched a lot of this play out in my principalship: the priests and pastors would always be thinking of their schools first. If one of the rest of us had it harder, and they had it easier, that was a-okay. I felt alone in my desire to grow the pool of students for all of us so that we all could win because I really didn’t believe in a zero-sum game. Meanwhile, everyone else was playing a different game: we won’t hurt you, and we might help you, but if and only if your helping yourself can in no way (even tangentially) impact us. Whenever I tried to grow the pool for all of us, it was attacked as possibly hurting the other schools.

Had I learned this lesson sooner, I would have done things differently. I would have recognized that, because we were in crisis, we needed to focus on ourselves first and exclusively. We might have still closed, but I would have gone farther and had a better chance at staying open had I focused on saving us any way possible including directly competing with the other schools.

And yes, that would involve breaking the rules I learned about how to get along with other people. That would have been directly in conflict with the rules I learned from the Catholic church, but when I observed priests breaking these very rules themselves, I realized they weren’t real rules.

Everyone else puts themselves first.

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