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Communication

I communicate a lot with my family and friends electronically using text messages, social media and email. I know a lot of people communicate this way now, but it has been brought to my attention that I may do this more than most people my age. This post looks at why I like to use electronic communication so much.

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Practicality

My relatives live spread out across the country in many different counties. I also have friends that live a long way from me that I met at university. I find the internet a fantastic way to stay in touch with people at a distance. I send letters and cards by post, more than a lot of people do these days, but post takes time and often I want a much quicker response. Also the cost of postal services seems to be getting more and more expensive.

Staying in Touch

I would of lost contact with a lot of people if it was not for Facebook. This includes friends from university, people I met at various events and distant relatives. I have never had many friends and would like to keep the ones I have got. I also managed to get back in touch with a few friends from school that I had previously not spoken with in many years.

Generational

From about my age group and below it just seems to be the natural way people communicate. Although some do so less than others, it is common to use Facebook messenger to stay in touch with friends and even family. Text messaging seems to be becoming normal for people of all age groups now including my parents generation. I am a little bit too old to have had a mobile phone or the internet as a small child, but since I was about fourteen I have regularly used the internet to chat with friends. I got my first mobile phone when I was about sixteen when I decided it would be practical since I was at college and that is what everyone else was using. A lot of my university friends are three or four years younger than me and some of them seem to use electronic communications as much as I do. They grew up with it from a younger age so it is what they are used to. At university I actually would have missed out on things if I was not on Facebook. We would invite each other to parties and nights out using Facebook as it was a great way to invite a lot of people at once. We would use Facebook messenger to group chat as it was very handy for us as drama students to share ideas or work out rehearsal times for our practicals.

Autism Friendly

My autism sometimes makes face to face chat harder for me than it might be for some people. I struggle with eye contact; even my diagnostic report says that I do. When I talk I tend to get carried away and say too much or the wrong thing. When I have to write down what I want to say first either online or in a text message it means I can look back at it and have time to think about what I am saying. It means I am less likely to say the wrong thing and can cut out the waffle, get to the point better. It is common for autistic people to use the internet to chat; it has less social skills to learn, although there are some social rules and I by no means always get them right online. I do enjoy face to face chat, but it can be more tiring for me sometimes and often requires more effort, although this depends who I am talking to and on the situation. Face to face people use non-verbal communication such as body language which can be tricky for autistics to pick up on. There is less hidden meaning in written text chat. I feel like I am more in control with this way of chatting. I do not have to talk to someone when I am not in the mood. If I am having a bad day mentally I can chose to ignore a text message or email and deal with it later when I am more able to. This way I do not upset people and take my bad moods out on them. I do use the phone, but have never been totally comfortable with it. Once I start chatting on the phone I often relax and am fine, but the initial thought of it sometimes makes me anxious. So text messaging is often easier for me. (Although I am getting better with making phone calls and do makes calls when I need to.) Another thing I like about written communication is the more definite response rather than ‘hmm’ or a nod of the head that I can often misunderstand. Even an OK or emoticon is at least a response that shows they took on board what I was saying. I find there is less pressure and less hassle with this way of communicating.

Can Just Say It

I like how I can say what I need to whilst I think of it with electronic communication. If I am not sure if someone is free to chat at the time I can still text or email for them to read later before I forget what I was going to say. Plus sometimes I have to say stuff as I get anxious if I do not. I worry if I do not say certain things as soon as I can to people. I do not mind if people read it later as long as I know it is out there.

Writing is my Skill

Writing is something I am quite good at and I feel confident at it. When talking in person it sometimes gets misunderstood. When I write I seem better at putting at my point across.

How Others Want to Communicate

It often seems to be how others want to communicate with me. Maybe they find it easier as I can bore people with my over talking in person. Also I have no land line phone and calling a mobile phone can be costly so maybe texting or emailing is just cheaper for people. I have relatives who email me rather than phone. I think this could be as they do not know when I am free to talk and do not want to disturb me if busy. I Facebook with some relatives responding to statues and comments as it seems a good way to communicate with each other when we do not actually know each other very well in person. This way I am getting to know them without so much pressure. I text with some family since they are often busy and they do not have time to see me face to face or phone very often.

This way of communicating does come with its own problems. When I do not want to talk I can chose not to, but in turn others can do the same to me. If people ignore me for short periods I am fine, but if it goes on for long periods it can worry me. The trouble is these days people are often expected to be instantly available 24 hours a day when it is not always possible. Another problem is of course when technology lets us down. What with lack of phone signal or devices breaking down or running out of charge sometimes old fashioned post or face to face is just easier.

I do not mind which way people choose to communicate with me, be it face to face or electronically. It is just nice when people want to chat with me.

I am a Writer

Right now the only thing I feel that I am really good at is writing. I have always enjoyed writing since I was young. It is the one area in which I get consistently good comments from people. I sometimes get nice comments about other things I do, but never as regularly as I do about my writing. It has been this way ever since I started school, writing was the area in which I knew my marks would never be that bad. At university my best marks were for my written theory work. I got OK marks for most of my performance practicals, but the written side always got me my best marks.
I decided last year to start this blog as I thought it would be a good way to get back into writing. A way to express some of my thoughts and feelings about things I have been going through. I was not sure if many people would read it, but for me it was more the actual act of writing and knowing that it had the potential to be read by someone. However right from the first post I started getting good numbers reading it and some very good feedback. A lot of the first people to read it were my family and friends, but I now have total strangers signing up to follow my blog and commenting on it too! It is a brilliant feeling knowing that your writing is good enough for people to want to read more of it.
I decided to write on the topics of disability and mental health as I have a life time of experience in these areas and have opinions and ideas on these topics that I wanted to express. I also add in posts about being on benefits as that is affecting my life in a large way right now, and often it can impact on my mental health. It helps that I am a very opinionated person who not afraid to tell people exactly how I feel about things. Being very honest in my blog matters to me, as I want to use it as a way to tell the world what I am really thinking and feeling about things.
I find writing this blog, and writing in general therapeutic in some ways. I find it helps to get things off my chest and out in the open. Writing also helps me focus my mind on what is really the issue and not to worry about so many things all at once. As I write I read back what I have just written and sometimes realise what I was anxious or angry about actually sounds daft when put out in the open like that. It gives me perspective on things. It also forces me to make my thoughts more coherent so that people can understand me which in turn sometimes helps me understand myself better.
Recently I had a blog post published on a campaign website about forced ‘volunteer’ work on job seekers allowance. I emailed them about my experiences, and they said I wrote about my experience very well and would I write a short blog for them. Despite it being unpaid it felt like a kind of commission, like a real writing job. I was proud of myself that I wrote so well they were willing to put it up on their website and post it on their Facebook page. I very much enjoyed the experience of writing for someone else and would love to do it again.
In fact my dream job would be as a writer. A kind of journalist or opinion page writer, the kind of thing you might read in the Guardian in the magazine pull-out. I also think I would be good at writing for websites or as a press officer for a local government organisation and that kind of thing. I am really struggling to get regular work in retail or hospitality or any other day-to-day area, so I am wondering if my talents would be better served doing something like writing for a living. However I do not know how you go about getting into writing as a career, it is not the kind of job you often see advertised on a jobs board online. I fear it might require knowing the right people in the industry, but sadly I do not know anyone like that. If anyone has any ideas how I could get started with this please feel free to share them with me. Even if it is unpaid work, it would be great to have more experience in writing for other people.
Currently I am stuck in a seemingly endless job searching rut and need to get out of it for my own sanities sake. Having been unemployed for over two years (bar a three-month retail job over a year ago), with the job centre driving me gradually more and more insane, old mental health issues I thought I had dealt with in my early twenties are resurfacing. I am wondering if maybe, just maybe writing could be my salvation.

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