Suburbia, Neurodivergence, and the Uncanny Valley

The liberalization of the concept of creepiness is most associated with third-wave feminism yet it is not that movement where it is most problematic. While a modicum of blame may be afforded that movement, they are mostly fine. Creepiness and the terms “creep” and “creepy” are vague and ill-defined and may describe an awkward teenager or child molester and it becomes a major issue in the context of middle-class and affluent suburbia. For people in the ghetto, behavior issues are about serious crime and disruptions while in monied suburbia, behavior issues are about much more minor issues often with special needs students but issues that are regarded with almost equal gravity.

For many special needs people, it is difficult to argue how they should live the staight and narrow when they have no sex, date nobody, do no drugs, do no alcohol, do no tobacco, engage in no violence, and commit no property crime. In fact, the administrators of affluent and middle-class institutions have almost no issues with those things. Having spent my life in those types of instituions; cocaine, Xanax, vodka, rape, groping, drunk driving, and more, don’t bother the administrators or the other authorities.

What truly disturbs them is, of course, the uncanny. Their desperation in prosocial classes of special ed is to make the weird go away. The special needs students may be perfectly ethical, moral, and decent people. That doesn’t matter. It is taken for granted that people should conform to social norms. In fact, it’s justified morally because discomfort is a form of harm and by being weird one harms others. There is even a, quite controversial, segment of the psychological science community trying to claim a lack of social conformity, including and especially obliging authority, is evidence of a personality disorder, especially the dark triad.

That idea, in my view, is borne of nervous suburbanites. In short, it makes hippies sound like sociopaths which as a political activist who has rebelled against authority a lot, out of feelings of moral duty makes me want to tell each of them, personally, to fuck themselves. They will often say that a lack of social conformity demonstrates a lack of consideration of the feelings of others and is unempathetic. No, a lack of concern for the welfare of others is unempathetic. Nudists dropping acid in a city park might offend Orange County but, unlike Orange County, those nudists dropping acid bleed their hearts for the Vietnamese peasants getting bombed by the tens of thousands. Pissing off the sensibilities of others is how human rights get won and is the proud tradition of deeply moral people.

The thing is, those arguments sound like they come out of Orange County in 1968 and, in a sense, they do. They come from the same monied, suburban, culture. They’re doing the same thing. They got weirded out and are trying to rationalize that being weird is a mental disorder and, to make it scarier, a personality disorder. They are suburbanites trying to make the uncanny go away. In a medical sense, they are rationalizing it is a personality disorder. It is also considered unethical to make someone uncomfortable and a violation of someone’s person to make them uncomfortable and the duty of someone who is to stop and/or leave.

The final piece of this is the lack of presence of pariahship in the cultural epistime. It used to be that the stories of the Western canon in which pariahs were empathized with and had their stories told were common knowledge. It was a cultural stereotype when villagers grabbed their pitchforks and torches to chase a misunderstood misfit out of town. In recent years, knowledge of the Western, or any, canon has waned to the point of almost nil. The average person has no background in the hummanities enough to empathize with the hated or the oppressed. There is anti-racist and anti-misogynist art but most people don’t even consume that.

The literary and cultural exposures of the average person give them zero understanding of the human condition. Which is, in part, why they author many of the human tragedies of my people and others. One can’t really empathize with the stories of the disabled unless you have the vibe and geist of being a feared and hated freak. Nothing from Stephanie Meyer to John Legend tells that story. Franz Kafka and Victor Hugo do but people don’t get their values from them. Contemporary pop culture gives people nothing in terms of wisdom of the human condition. Whatever Selena Gomez says about mental illness, she is not going to tell the utterly tragic story of a Barnum freak or a schizophrenic bipolar person being feared for their condition.

Which is, of course, the end. The suburban concept of creepiness is not an objective measure of sexual or other danger. It is the same gut feeling cultures have given their misfits since Homo Sapiens evolved on the steppes of Africa. It is an oxytocin-induced anti-outgroup bias, rationalized in the normative, and turned into a punishment of whoever is unfortunate enough to find themselves contrary to society’s expectations. It is a tale as old as humanity, itself.

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