Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pin the tail on the brain lobe

"She's the kind of girl who gets her slings and arrows from the dumpster
The kind who tells you she's bipolar just to make you trust her

Boy am I the poster girl for some suburban sickness
Better keep a healthy distance"

The Dresden Dolls - Dirty Business (2006)

"Blake makes friends but only for a minute
He prefers the things he orders from the internet"

Amanda Palmer - Blake Says (2008)
As part of the rampant self-entitlement and attention whoring defining Generation Snowflake, we've seen a funny trend over the past decade of obsessive jackasses self-diagnosing as autistic or Asperger's cases and joining online echo-chambers of like-minded self-styled specialness. Autism became, for a while, the buzz-word on everyone's lips when a Playboy model convinced half the United States (with the help of Oprah Winfrey and most of the news media) that she understood vaccines better than all biologists put together. Though it does seem to have faded gradually as a pop culture fad, this only begs the question of what comes next.

It hits me about the same as watching the "goth" table back in high school, feeling the bile bubble up at the spectacle of preening drama queens claiming to be nihilistic, depressed and ostracized. I really was nihilistic, depressed and ostracized. You don't spend two hours a day putting on clown make-up and publicly reciting your bad teenage poetry if you're nihilistic, depressed and ostracized. And, nowadays, whether or not my lack of empathy, slight aptitude for language and logic and tendency toward obsessiveness might prompt some control freak of a headshrinker to label me an Asperger's case, I find no impetus to pigeonhole myself.

Of course, adopting a fake mole on one's cheek as a beauty mark is nothing new. In the decade prior to autism's rise in the polls (late '90s to late 2000s) the trendy white-collar psychological blemish to lend oneself a bit of intrigue was bipolar disorder. Before that, all the comfortably two-faced suburbanites were terrified they might secretly be schizophrenic. Before that... well, before that I'm pretty sure everyone was just snorting cocaine at the height of the '80s, so the trend breaks down somewhat.

Now, the naive might say the public's gained a bit of perspective over the past three decades. Maybe we'll finally be able to simply look at ourselves as existing on a wide, multivariate spectrum of human aptitudes, tendencies and foibles and leave it at that. Just relax our social expectations and simply accept each other on a case by case basis without the need for labels.


If you oligophrenes think that, then we must not be observing the same species of naked apes. So I have to ask: which disorder will become the next fad among the dullwitted and attention-starved? How will all the yuppies in the 2020s be excusing their own behavior? Post-traumatic stress is too easy. For one thing, all the snowflakes have already been abusing it in all but name; for another, the overabundance of actual war veterans and refugees can make it a bit of a taboo. Eating disorders? Always a good bet in the United States, but I'm not seeing it becoming a major trend. Everyone's still too busy claiming to be big beautiful hippos. My money's on obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Think about it. In a world of compulsive re-tweeting, what better way to re-brand one's sheepishness into pompous victimization? I can't help thumbing my smartphone 24/7, I got that Oh See Dee that's been going around!

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