I Don’t Want to Talk

This isn’t addressed to anyone who knows this blog exists and who I am. This was inspired by one specific meatspace incident at the beginning of this past week, but it struck enough of a chord that there had to be other cases of this same thing that I’m not remembering off the top of my head because they’re that banal.

There’s no socially acceptable way to say you don’t want to talk, much less to say that you don’t want to talk to one specific person or to some people, but might want to talk to others. There’s no acceptable way to say “too tired to engage in small talk with people I don’t know”, or “I don’t have the mental energy to talk right now”. In the specific incident I’m thinking of (a classmate I didn’t know very well trying to make small talk with me as I rushed to get a homework assignment done), I’m glad that nobody tried to IM me in that time, either (I had to have my computer open to do homework). Fortunately with IMs, I could pretend to be busy or not see it, and all the people I like are people I’d trust not to be put off by “can’t talk right now”.

There’s a societal component to this, of course, where not having the spare energy to talk isn’t considered by the broader society to be a legitimate state of being, so of course there’s not a socially acceptable way to say it. Instead you’re supposed to feign willingness, at least until the other person leaves. Hating small talk is considered semi-legitimate, but only if you look at it as a character flaw that you’re trying to fix. I don’t hate small talk that way. It takes energy that normally, when I’m not already exhausted and scraping every bit of energy I can for schoolwork, I can recover soon enough that it’s fine. In this circumstance, I could come off as rude and possibly out myself as neurologically non-convergent (depending on how well I’m able to express myself then), let my energy get drained, or deflect until they gave up for a bit and physically remove myself around the corner (the path I eventually took).

I really need to unlearn some of the social skills conditioning I got as a kid. That whole mess was as much about making me more compliant with normative social mores as it was about making me more socially capable, more able to get positive interactions with people. I’m sure the therapists and my parents would disagree, but they weren’t inside it, were they? Normative social mores are oppressive; that’s, like, 101 level in any kind of social justice. Forcing non-neuroconvergent people to waste energy faking neuroconvergence for the sake of keeping neuroconvergent people comfortable, when our energy is scarce, is just another example of the same damn shit where privileged people demand the time and energy of marginalized people in general.

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