For background and context, please see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Part 1 is especially important because that’s where I explain that I’m not literally going to become a “lone wolf terrorist”, but am rather using this expression as a figure of speech. It’s a metaphor, for better or worse, by which I mean a literary representation of something else, which is to say, something that is not at all literally a “lone wolf terrorist”, but which in this case (as explained in Part 1) is something I’m calling a frustration artist: essentially anyone who deliberately and artfully attempts to elicit an experience of frustration in another human being (or possibly several) for the general purpose of improving things for all of us, especially the frustrated person(s).
Why I Must Become a Frustration Artist
To put it as simply as I can: I must become a frustration artist because, and for starters, autism can be a real pain-in-the-ass, at times, and not just for autistic people. I doubt I’m the only autistic person who can see that his (or her) autistic neurology can be intensely frustrating for at least some others on at least some occasions. I know this is true in my own case. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I know I can really frustrate the shit out of at least some people some of the time. That much is a given. There’s really nothing I can do about that basic fact. It appears to be a natural consequence of the fact that I live in a very different world both conceptually and perceptually. Yes, yes, of course, if I am very careful — if I’m extremely polite and pay close attention to the words I choose, which, as a rule, should always be few and preferably muttered below ear-shot — then it seems that I can minimize the frustration I cause others, but such vigilance is exhausting and ultimately impossible to sustain. Sooner or later and somehow or another — no matter how hard I try — I am doomed to slip up eventually and make at least someone feel a good deal more frustrated in some situation than in which they probably ever imagined they’d feel frustrated.
And because I do care about people and really don’t want to be an insensitive asshole, it seems to me that I therefore must try to find some way to make all of this inevitable frustration worth it — worth it for all of us, if possible of course, but especially worth it for the particular people I frustrate. I have to find some way to make it beneficial for them — if not immediately so, then at least in the long run. I think the expression “to turn lemons into lemonade”
captures this idea fairly well, except in my case maybe the lemons are kind of rotten. The gist here is that I’m hoping to re-conceptualize (re-purpose, upcycle, etc.) all of this inevitable frustration as some sort of a resource — as something that might be useful, and the term Frustration Art is essentially a label I’ve chosen for that, whatever “that” turns out to be. As an alternative, I suppose I might also call it something like Frustration Engineering, which would make me a frustration engineer, but I’ve only just now thought of doing this, so I’ll leave that one aside for a future blog post.
But there’s another reason, too, and it’s perhaps the most important. But in order to understand it, you’ll need to know this:
I Suck at Persuasion
Last year when my Civil Rights were violated by Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith of Seyfarth Shaw working in illegal collusion with roughly a dozen MetLife employees and at least 3 employees of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — an experience I have described here and elsewhere in all seriousness as a form of gang rape (yes, yes, figuratively speaking, whatever) — I was consequently forced to embrace a terrible fact: I suck at persuasion.
Of course, there’s a sense in which we all do. Because each of us has a unique and highly personalized perspective on everything that is or that happens, then to the extent that any two given people are unable to find common ground between their respective unique and highly personalized perspectives, they are predictably going to disagree with each other on any manner of topics.
But as a matter of observable fact, and no doubt due to my autistic brain, I’m rather convinced that I tend to find myself in a good deal more of these kinds of disagreements with others.
Now, I have been struggling with my lousy persuasion skills for my whole life — butting heads with people is a more direct way to say it — but it was only about 15 years ago that it began to dawn on me that I’m simply not as good at persuasion as I tended to believe myself to be. But even though I’ve been gradually getting my head around this characteristic of myself for more than a decade, it was really my “so to speak” gang rape last year at the hands of Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith and the others — and especially my subsequent utter and relentless failure to convince anybody of its significance — that has finally forced me to face and eventually embrace completely this characteristic of myself. Here it is again:
I suck at persuasion.
And whereas I’m sure everybody has moments where they could say something similar, it seems clear to me now that in my case such incidents of persuasion-failure are much, much more frequent and problematic. I don’t just suck at persuasion in the way that we all do. Rather, I suck exuberantly at persuasion — passionately, enthusiastically, magnificently, pathologically. I suck to the max at persuasion.
Which raises the question of what to do about it. Now that I know this about myself, what next? Surely it’s a problem that I suck at persuasion. But then, what’s the solution? How does one accommodate such a personal weakness?
The answer to that question will make it easy to understand what’s probably the best reason I could give for why I must become a frustration artist.
To be continued…