As white males go, I consider myself to be a relatively enlightened. If I weren’t such a stickler for grammar, I might even say that I’m woke. My Asperger’s likely makes me appear dispassionate and unsympathetic, but it’s really a two-edged sword in the best possible way: my condition also makes me aware of the irrationality of prejudice, while also helping me understand – at least as much as an otherwise very privileged middle-class white male can – what it’s like to be pushed aside as the other. (Here I am avoiding the extraordinarily loaded “d” word.) Or, to put a far more sinister spin on it, the terrible narcissism that arises from my condition and divides the world into me and all the not-mes also has the side effect of putting all of the not-mes on a roughly equal plane, regardless of their sex, race, and so on.
But in spite of all my aspirations of wokeness, I had a rude awokening a few months ago thanks to an update of WhatsApp that got auto-downloaded onto my clunky old smartphone. Amazingly, in spite of its cringeworthy name, this application has become a key part of both Facebook’s fearsome information monopoly and my chat-addicted life. Along with Facebook Messenger, it has become indispensable for me in staying in touch with my far-flung network of intercontinental friends. Between the two apps, most of my non-work communications apparently pass through the hungry maw of the Facebook monster – but hey, gotta help my autistic brother Zuck out, right? (more…)