So, everyone who knows autistics, knows that autistics tend to infodump. We love talking about our passions, our interests, what we’re working on, this fascinating new piece of information we’ve just learned….
Unfortunately, most of the time, people who aren’t autistic themselves get bored listening – or just aren’t interested in the topic in the first place. And of course, with our difficulties with social communication, we can’t always tell when someone is feeling that, so we just keep on pouring out the information on whatever it is that’s caught our attention.
And yet, time and time again, autistics are told that people don’t want to listen to infodumps. That they can’t maintain the interest in the topic for the length of time we go on about it for.
So why do we continue to infodump in the first place?
Well, as the title of this post says, it’s in a lot of ways a matter of love/affection/positive relationships.
We tend to infodump when we’re excited about something, something that we want to share with others we have a positive relationship with, because they might get excited about it too! It’s a way to share something we love with the people we love.
In fact, a couple of years ago, an autistic friend and I were discussing the matter of autistic interpersonal relationships, and we came to this conclusion. Between autistics, it’s an act of friendship. It’s a way to let the other know what’s going on in our life, and maybe they’ll find something interesting in what we talk about! We tend to infodump to each other, and it’s fun and interesting!
So for us, infodumping is rewarding; it gives us a boost to share it with someone, and it also tends to be interesting to listen to from a friend (most of the time – especially if you do share interests), because we might get something out of it, and it lets us know what the other person has been up to.
Thinking about it, it’s a lot like the way autistics tend to offer empathy – AKA when someone is upset about something, telling a story of when that or something similar happened to us, as a way to show that we understand and commiserate. Which also tends to get misunderstood by neurotypicals as making everything “about us”, when what we’re really trying to convey is understanding and sympathy.
Grand Canyon or Game of Telephone – autistic and allistic communication is fraught with misunderstandings like this.
But, if an autistic you know starts infodumping at you, please – even if you aren’t interested in the topic – know that it’s an effort to show that they trust you and want to share this wonderful thing with you, so you can know the wonderful thing too!