Autism Awareness: The Internet

What difference does the internet make for us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I was in the membership class at my church and we talked about evangelism. It was discussed how it’s a mistake today to think the goal of the Christian is to get someone to go to church and then let the pastor handle everything from that point on. Every Christian needs to know what it takes to lead someone in the path of salvation and yes, that could include basic apologetics.

We also agreed that that is not just done through face-to-face communication, which I have indicated previously in another post. I know that Hugh Ross, also on the spectrum, has said he would rather talk to 100 people than to one. I am of that same opinion. I am much more comfortable addressing a crowd than I am going up and engaging with one stranger one-on-one.

Thankfully, this is the age of the internet. Now, such communication is no longer the only way to speak. I can instead speak to several people every day and engage in many conversations that sadly, most Christians will never engage in.

This doesn’t mean that I am open with everyone. I know someone else who has given this rule on Facebook and I tend to hold to it as well. If you message me out of the blue and I don’t know you and you just say hello or ask me how I’m doing or something like that, I will most likely ignore you. I do not know who you are and on the internet, you can’t be too careful. Message me something specific and you are much more likely to get a response. (See anything I have written on small talk and saying “How are you?”) The same applies even when I play Words With Friends. If someone messages me saying I did good on a play, I say thank you. If someone just says hi, I ignore. After all, many of these conversations turn into attempts to sell me something.

That’s great for those of us who are high-functioning and able to speak, but what about others? Turns out, they have also found a voice. There have been people who are non-verbal on the spectrum and have been put in front of a computer and found their voice there. The internet has been a special blessing to these people and many parents have been quite happy with the results.

Of course, we still might not know all the rules of communication on the internet, but it is a step forward. Even here on the net, we have to be on guard against interpreting messages literally, for example. Fortunately, we don’t have to deal with body language and anything else that confuses us.

For those who are not on the spectrum, keep in mind someone you are communicating with on the net could be on the spectrum. Those of us are who are more aware than some might be also need to be on guard, especially parents, since there are several predators on the internet. Do your part to make the internet a safe place for people on the spectrum.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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