The Digital Cocoon
It’s a story we hear a lot; the person on the autism spectrum who retreats into the sheltered comfort of the virtual world to escape the perennial grinding stress of the “real world”.
After all, in the world of ones and zeros, things are clean and orderly. Things make sense. Sure, it’s no perfect haven; online harassment is a constant threat, but compared to reality’s myriad of sometimes unbearable tactile, visual, aural, and olfactory stimuli that come thick and fast as lasers in a 1990s arcade shooter, it can seem like a comfortable womb of anesthetized tranquility.
Here’s the thing though; in this day and age, how many of us, autistic or not, can say we never take shelter in the digital realm, whether it be television, video games, or social media?
This is not a spectrum-exclusive tendency, it’s a natural human response to an often hostile environment.
People love to talk about technology taking over our lives and destroying social interaction, but the withdrawal into media is hardly a new phenomenon:
The key, as with most things, is moderation. There’s nothing strictly wrong with chilling out to a bit of Super Mario, Facebook, or Game of Thrones. We all do it. Well, nearly all of us. We just have to make sure it remains a pastime rather than our natural state. If it has gotten out of hand, ease off gradually, as if you’re lowered the dosage of a medication.
Yes, it’s important not to quit reality altogether, but there’s nothing wrong with taking breaks from it.