Another Autcraft follow up

Aspies and Minecraft go together like ham and cheese. I said I’d post some screenshots of what I’ve been working on in Autcraft, so here they are!

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Autcraft follow up

I’ve spent more time in Autcraft and learned a lot about how things work there, and it is pretty cool. They have different worlds set up for different things, like four separate worlds to build in (two peaceful worlds and two hard worlds), a world for gathering resources, worlds for mini games, quiet worlds where there’s no chat, and more. The resource-gathering worlds reset monthly, so all resources are renewable, unlike in a normal Minecraft world where the resources are still vast but finite.

There are also things you can buy, like commands that heal you, fill your food bar, and repair your equipment. For $2 a month, I have the ability to repair all of my equipment an unlimited number of times whenever I want. They also have one-time-purchase packages that give you a status in the chat (iron, gold, and diamond) and access to other commands. The iron status is $20, the gold status is $50, and the diamond status is $100. With diamond comes the ability to fly and designate up to ten homes, so I really want to get that.

As before, the community is very friendly and helpful, and they keep a close eye on the chat to ensure that any unpleasant interactions are kept to a minimum. I highly recommend it to autistic kids, autistic adults, and their families.

Autcraft

After hearing and reading so much about Autcraft, a Minecraft server for people with autism and their families, I checked out the website and filled out the application to be added to the whitelist. The site said it would take 1-2 weeks for the application to be processed, so I waited. A few days later, I had a message in my email saying I’ve been accepted. Yay! So I followed their instructions and logged in last night.

I received a very warm welcome. The moment I logged in, everyone said hi, and a few people came up to give me some stuff. Then one of the admins showed me around and showed me how to pick a spot to build my house. She also gave me some materials to build my house out of. It wasn’t enough to do as much as I plan to do, but it was a very nice start.

The chat is active and friendly, and I feel like if I need help, I can easily get it. I look forward to exploring Autcraft more and being a productive member of the community. I might also post some screenshots of my house once it’s impressive enough.

One aspie’s gratitude

Aspies have it tough. I know a few people who are very negative about their aspergers and life in general. As depressing as it can be to be around them for very long, I can see where they’re coming from. After high school, I spent years wondering why I couldn’t go on to live a normal life like everybody else. Realizing that I’m not like everybody else didn’t help much, because it didn’t tell me where I belonged. It only told me where I don’t belong.

But as I drifted through life, some of my choices took me away from the life of misery that I thought I was doomed for. I stopped trying to live to gain everyone else’s approval, and as the stress eased, I was able to think more clearly and make even more wise choices. I grew up, and contrary to popular belief, adulthood has many perks.

I take great pride in little things that other people would take for granted, like when I met with clients recently to discuss their wedding and what kind of pictures they want me to take. My girlfriend helped me to pick out a suit, and I got a great deal on a very nice one. I do volunteer work and build a reputation as a productive member of a community. I love that I can use my talents and skills to serve other people, because for so long, I felt like an outsider.

Finding a way to do what I like to do in order to serve other people was the key to finding my place in the world, and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me along the way.

For us, Social Media is a double-edged sword.

While my co-author resoman517 asserts that Facebook has been a great boon for him overall, and I do understand his reasoning, it is my view that contemporary social media (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, even e-mail) constitutes a double-edged sword, metaphorically speaking.  Yes, it can allow us to connect with other Aspies, or even NTs who share our interests and pet foci…but they are also media where we can be bullied, harassed, persecuted, etc.  We can get drawn into arguments, flame wars, etc, that are emotionally anxiety-inducing and frustrating.

Especially in times of great national controversy or crisis, I often find that I retreat from Facebook altogether, for days or even weeks on end…not least because my quirky, often unconventional views are unwelcome or treated with outright hostility, and I am so conflict-averse that I’d just rather avoid the linguistic combat involved until things cool off and subjects can be examined more dispassionately and objectively with the distance of time.

I also know fellow Aspergians who go to the extreme of leaving Facebook altogether, deleting their accounts and staying offline for extended periods before slowly coming back, re-creating their accounts, and slowly re-building their severed connections.  I know of at least one Aspergian who has abandoned Facebook completely and refuses to go back and has decided to camp out on Google+ indefinitely.  This seems to work for him, but I admit I do miss his company on Facebook.  Even when I communicate with him via the Googleverse, he is slow and seemingly reluctant to respond.  He points out that he’s reluctant to participate in blogs like this unless we can guarantee we police the comments section to weed out potential bullies, trolls, etc.  I understand his concern and implemented these protections on some of my personal blogs on the Blogger platform.  We currently leave the policing/editing functions up to Ankh here on our main WordPress platform, our de-facto webmaster.

One Aspie friend who has retreated from Facebook completely in the past describes a scenario that is parallel and familiar to my own…it goes a little like this…you make new friends and interact…the more you feel comfortable the more you let loose and be your “real” self, but eventually this causes friction and pushback, as NTs discover they have objections to the real you that they do not accept…they push back; we, averse to conflict, pull back or withdraw altogether.  In the most severe cases we disengage entirely.  We then wallow in extreme loneliness and depression for a length of time.  If we don’t commit suicide first, we tentatively return back to the social world…logging back onto Facebook after a long hiatus, say, or re-creating a previously deleted account…or friends decide that the “not-on-speaking-terms” probation is over and interact with us again…we re-join the world, but furtively, with our guards up, keeping our “real” personalities hidden, played close to the chest, as it were, until we once again feel comfortable to let our guard down.  Our most constant friends are the ones to whom we’ve let our guard down completely yet still accept us in all our awkward glory…these are few and far between.  To the others, we let slip selectively bits and pieces of our best selves, constantly checking if the bonds of acceptance still hold or are starting to fray.  Social media can be a great tool of connection, but it does have its down sides, its dark sides, etc.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

There are times when I would have, basically, a classic “aspie meltdown” (but not recognize it as such) and compose a really angry email to someone.  And I would refrain from sending it until the morning.  But this self-check often would not work, as, upon reading it with cold and sober eye the next day, I decided that yes, that’s exactly what I meant to say and I still mean it and I’d still hit send….

The most frustrating thing is writing and re-writing a composition, bending over backwards to not give offense, taking elaborate care with one’s wording—and at the end of the day STILL YET offending someone such that one should’ve just gone with one’s original snarky impulse, if only to gain the emotional satisfaction of it, since the consequences end up being more or less the same.  Goddamn, it’s like why do I even try!?

Facebook is the current social media that’s “in” right now.  It used to be MySpace, but I myself admit I’ve not logged into MySpace for months now.  LiveJournal even less often.  I do not think that Google+, despite its own hype, will supersede Facebook, but I also don’t believe that Facebook is forever.  It’s just incredibly convenient in the present moment.  I’m only just now starting to explore Twitter, but I freely allow that I don’t really understand Twitter nor its protocols at the moment.  I like to follow it during Rockets home games, and sometimes send out my own Tweets, but I don’t fully get it, at least not yet.

I’ve heard mixed things about dedicated Aspie/Autistic social sites like Wrong Planet.  Some of my co-authors report negative experiences with it.  I tried it but lost interest.  Others swear by it.  I know that it has improved recently with new authors like Kirsten Lindsmith, the then girlfriend of the son of John Elder Robinson of Look Me in The Eye fame.  There are also a lot of autistic individuals (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in Anime/Manga fan culture, too, as well as in the atheist / freethought community.

On the one hand, the internet does provide a social outlet to home-bound autistic individuals who otherwise cannot get out and interact with the real world at all.  On the other hand, it can potentially inhibit less impaired individuals from going out into the real world to “practice”, as it’s in many ways easier than dealing with the complex social web of the “real” world.  Having grown up in the pre-internet world, I can attest that part of what made me as well adjusted as I am currently is not having the capacity to spend all day “online”, but disconnected from the immediacy of face-to-face interaction.  I participated in Cub Scouts, YMCA baseball, etc.  I went out for NJROTC in High School; I played videogames on my Apple II+ but also made friends with people who played the same or similar games on their PCs.  Most of all, I played D20 RPGs with friends, specifically Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.  I tried to stay connected to “nerd culture” up through college and beyond. 

I like this blog, I like Facebook, but I won’t pretend they don’t sometimes have downsides for ASD individuals, too.  They can help, but they can also hurt.  I like writing for this blog, but at the same time I feel self-conscious in putting myself “out there”; but I do so in the hope that I can help others, despite some personal risks to myself I may invoke in the process.