Tag Archives: social protocol

Let’s all join together and not touch at all

I think the day before Major National Holiday That Clogs Up All The Malls is a great day for a silly, fun post.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, this blog has impacted my life in various different ways. Here is yet another one.

As of right now, the all-time most popular post I’ve written is Why I don’t like social touch, by a rather significant margin. It got a lot of comments relative to my other posts, and has been shared on facebook over 100 times (that’s a lot for me!). Since posting it, I’ve learned that people are regularly asking google why they don’t like social touch. I’ve learned that it is not just an aspie thing – plenty of neurotypical people experience the same thing as well. I’ve learned that I don’t need to feel strange and alone about this – while the majority of people may be ok with casual social touch, there are still plenty of people out there like me. Who maybe wish there were other ways to build casual social connections with strangers that did not involve getting their sticky on our fingers.

As usual I do not actually have any solutions. However, that does not mean that I cannot speculate! Let’s see what I can come up with on How To Not Touch People.

Warning: no promises that any of these will be good ideas. ^_^

1. Wave instead. Actually, I do this one for real. If I’m not feeling up for touching strangers but am in a situation where I am being introduced to people, I’ll make a point to stand at a sufficient distance that they’ll feel a little awkward thrusting their hand towards me. I also make a point to wave right away, before the usual hand-thrusting part. People are generally willing to wave back instead of grabbing appendages, though I do sometimes get weird looks.

by RedHerring1Up on flickr

You don’t have to wave this much, but you can if you want to.

2. Do the chicken dance. Everyone knows the chicken dance! Surely that would be a great way to connect. Plus, I imagine that it would be challenging to grab someone’s hand while said hand is tucked into their waist and I only have access to elbows.

by soundfromwayout on flickr


3. Thrust your hand at them before they get a chance to thrust their hand at you. (also, am I the only person who thinks that people look really pushy when they’re trying to shake hands?) Yeah, you’ll still end up touching, but you’ll also be more in control.

pic by me


4. Plank. No one will know what to do with you, so hopefully they’ll just leave you alone. Warning: they may decide to poke you instead. Hard to say.

by marcoderksen on flickr

It’s probably ok to plank in more comfortable places

5. Bake cookies ahead of time (if you know you’re going to be meeting people who will want to touch you) and give them to the people you meet. Your hands will be occupied holding the cookie tin, and people will like you because they associate you with cookies. If you want to be as ideal about it as possible, include things like sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan varieties of cookies, so as to not unintentionally leave people out.

by yevgene on flickr


6. Hunch your shoulders and glare at everyone. I used to do this one when I was younger. It’s a good way to avoid touching people, but it works poorly for helping to connect with people or smoothing social interactions. I recommend this idea least of all.

by edwaado on flickr

This cat knows what I’m talking about

7. Borrow a greeting ritual from another culture or time period. Maybe bow, or nod your head, or tip your hat (if you’re wearing one).

by Narith5 on flickr

This one is Cambodian

Ok, I think that’s enough for now. I would love to hear any ideas you have! Silly, serious, or otherwise – they’re all good. ^_^


Filed under ramble

Just Try Harder


Sometimes people say rather hurtful things to me, and I’m sure others, with the best of intentions. They’re trying to give advice and really believe they’re saying something helpful, and somehow just don’t understand how hurtful it can be to hear them. Many of them can be generally classified as exhortations to just try harder.

All we need to do is just put in more effort, or take these classes, or see that type of therapist, or avoid those foods, and if we just worked at it, we’d be fine!

Thing is, it always seems like it carries the implication that I must not be working at things already, and it definitely carries the implication that I’m not working hard enough. It also implies that whatever it is they are encouraging me to fix can be fixed, so the fact that my aspie-ness is showing is somehow my fault. As “helpful advice” goes, I find it insulting and hurtful and not helpful at all. Especially because that particular brand of advice almost never comes when I’ve actually asked for advice. It seems to reside almost entirely in the realm of unsolicited advice, from people who think they know what’s wrong with me better than I do.

Here’s the deal. I do work. I work hard. But I don’t necessarily work hard at the things people think I should work hard at. I work hard to be able to walk up to an associate in a store to ask for help. I work hard to remember to reciprocate social questions. I work hard to deal with my sensory issues. I work hard to increase my mobility so I don’t hide in my house away from the world all the time. I work hard to talk to people I don’t know.

I do not work hard to hide my stimming, even in public. I only sort of work hard to hide my awkwardness in social situations. I do not push myself to keep my ASD hidden away, as though it’s somehow shameful or wrong. Yeah, I will apologize and try to improve if I am unintentionally rude or make a legitimate social slip, but I will not apologize for being strange or quirky or sensitive or twitchy or any number of other things that make me odd, but are not actually wrong.

“Trying harder” will not make my social awkwardness go away. “Trying harder” will not magically let me learn all the social protocols I have yet to learn. “Trying harder” will not cure my sensory issues. I already try damned hard.

I refuse to “try harder” to pass for normal. I pass or I don’t pass. I won’t apologize for who and what I am.

All of which means that “just try harder” is both useless and insulting, and not something I should have to hear from anyone. I can appreciate someone trying to be helpful (sort of) but please pay attention to the sorts of things you say, and what they may sound like from the other side.


Filed under that's not helping