This week I have been thinking about the role that the internet plays in our lives, from our participation in social media to the changes in how we watch television. Ten years ago, we couldn’t have imagined the ways in which such technology influences us…how many of you would now be lost without your phones!
For my autistic son, it has led to him finding lots of conspiracy theories on the YouTubers that he loves to watch. He also loves to play games, but as he is someone that needs to complete things, he spends quite a bit of time having to complete levels in the various games that he plays.
We resort to apps that turn off computers at set times, and try to challenge the conspiracy theories, but I am sure we can all recognise how addictive these things can be. Perhaps that is why I think we are moving into a different era – one where the search for truth or authenticity is underlying conspiracy theories and one where we have so much information that it can be hard to know what is fake and what is true.
I help run a Philosophy cafe, and this week the topic was about freedom and freedom of speech (in its widest sense which includes music, art, video and even social media). In our discussions, I realised that our intentions are important – and when there is the intention to harm someone, then I think that freedom of speech should be limited.
However, in relation to our autistic son, we need to teach him what he can and cannot say, as he doesn’t have a filter as to what is appropriate. We also have to teach him what he can and cannot write on social media…one rule that I hope to teach him is never to attack people through his words (and of course deeds).
Debates and discussions are so important, but when it moves to the individual as a person, then that moves from debate and discussion to being a personal attack – and thus causing harm to an individual. We need to be prepared to interrogate our beliefs through discussions, but at the same time (as one of my students also noted) respect for each other is so important.
This week, I have been thinking about how we behave towards ourselves and others. How our very words and actions can make us better or indeed bitter. With our autistic child we are trying to teach him social norms and how to behave – towards himself and others (not always successfully and it is a struggle).
I also had to watch Bandersnatch this week for a lecture I am doing, and this led me to think about how our choices make us who we are…including the way we speak, act and behave towards ourselves and others.
One of my favourite quotes is from Lao Tzu ‘Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions; they become your habits; watch your habits; they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.’
Let’s hope that our autistic son learns to adopt better habits towards himself as he struggles with kindness (particularly towards himself) but I firmly believe that our kind words, thoughts and actions always have impact and are never lost – even when it’s hard to do!
This week, in the course of my work, I have been thinking about time.I set myself the challenge of applying quantum physics to analysing television programmes which is why I was thinking about time and observations! Think of how time seems so long for a child to wait until their birthday – compared to myself when my birthdays seem to come round far too quickly. This got me thinking about something a colleague once said about my autistic child. They told me to remember that his actual age is not his age emotionally. So instead of thinking of him as being 12, I should think of him as 7 or 8 years old and respond to him in that way. This does make sense to me when I observe his behaviour but I don’t always remember to do this!