For your stray attention this weekend
On flourishing in the dark
I am so mindful this week that many of you will be reeling in horror and grief, and I want to start by sending love. From a personal perspective, I’m scrolling endlessly through the news again, feeling sick and helpless.
I notice that others have an immediate response in these moments, and I never do. I always spend a long time watching first, reading everything I can, talking to people who know more than I do, trying to formulate my thoughts. I realise that, in this social-media age, that’s seen as a flaw - we have to be seen to have a strong, immediate opinion, or else to be weak - but I’m not so sure. First of all, it’s simply part of my autistic processing: everything takes a long time, and I fall into muteness when my mind is full. I want to acknowledge, in this space, how many of my autistic readers (and many others too) will be experiencing hyper-empathy right now, and may be struggling to function because of it. You will almost certainly be feeling that you’re not doing enough. I see you. I know it’s so hard.
But I also wonder about the way that social media makes us feel that we have to say something, even if it is poorly informed, while also making it hard to convey nuance. I often think about the world 15 or 20 years ago, when we were not able to broadcast our state of mind at any given moment, and so we felt no pressure to simplify complex and fragile feelings. We were able to just be private citizens at moments of mass grief, and that gave us space to move through many different emotional states unseen.