What if we're the normal ones?

#1

Just a thought … what if all those people out there who claim to be neurotypical are actually broken in the brain? I mean, the only thing that makes having ADHD a PROBLEM, is the act of trying to FIT IN with a world created and maintained by neurotypical people. They and the world tend to assume that the people they’re dealing with, will want things to be helpful for other people like themselves, so, for example, they ask us all to come to a regular workplace at a regular time and keep it very boring and make sure the tasks are repetitive and detail-oriented and non-creative. That’s because neurotypical people tend to lack the amount of creativity that ADHDers have, and neurotypical people crave a type of stultifying routine that causes them (wrongly) to believe that they have contributed positively to the wellbeing of mankind and/or the company merey on the basis of their regular butt-in-chair attendance. They like being given accolades for averageness. No wonder we ADHDers can’t stand it!

So, imagine, if we had our own continent where 100% of us had ADHD. We wouldn’t end up with a market-based economy, I’m pretty sure. Work would be project-oriented, and projects which didn’t get done would sit around and be ready for someone else to take them up. There’d be a lot of random sharing, and people running about very worried that they couldn’t find things, so it would be likely that people would simply let other people have free food when they need it, and free housing because they once did something worthwhile and so later on it’s reasonable to assume they’ll do something else worthwhile. We’d produce some AWESOME movies and other entertainment media, and our stand-up comedy would just be the best on the planet! Our planes would arrive erratically, but our top-notch air traffic controllers would handle the problems, and everyone would view air travel as an enjoyable and exciting pastime that enhances our lives. Or kills us.

Somewhere else, another continent full of non-ADHDers would be grinding away, making widgets at a regular and predictable pace. Their movies would be extremely boring – just industrial explanations of things, like that movie they sometimes show on the airplane about how to clip together your seat belt and use the bottom cushion as a flotation device. Then, maybe, one or another of them might get on a boat and travel away from their continent, just out of mistaken directions. They wouldn’t ever DELIBERATELY explore other lands or look for new continents, because they would be worried they wouldn’t get to work tomorrow morning on time. But maybe one or another of them would ACCIDENTALLY find OUR continent and then send news back. “Hey,” they’d say, “there’s this weird and cluttered and extremely cacophonous continent over here on the other side of the ocean and it’s full of strange people.”

So, they’d come visit, they’d love our movies, they’d tell us there were probably better ways to run air traffic control, and then they’d invite us to visit. And some of us would cross over, look at them, learn about their daily experiences, and SCREAM IN HORROR AT THE HORRIFYING AND BORING WASTE OF A LIFE THAT THEY LIVE.

“Wait,” we’d say, “you WANT to get to a cubicle? And you WANT to be there all day? And you WANT to be just like everyone else? When you boss treats you just like everyone else that makes you feel GOOD not BAD?” And we’d go back to our continent shaking our heads in dismay and disbelief. We’d NEVER volunteer to live like THEY do on THAT continent.

What if one of our ADHD children turned out to fall in love with someone from the other side? We’d ask our child, “Wouldn’t you want someone who doesn’t have such REGULAR employment, who isn’t so RELIABLE?” We’d cajole our child with, “I know you think you LOVE that person, but there are plenty of fish in the sea, give yourself a chance to have some EXCITEMENT and VARIETY in your life … No? Well, we’ll support you whatever your choice.” Sure, we’d be supportive, generous in fact, but we’d also really hope that the new couple decided to stay on our ADHD continent. If they wanted to go to the neurotypical continent, we’d mourn the fact that they were singling themselves out for a boring and wasted existence just to be with their loved one. But we’d visit and bring fun toys with us for the grandkids (maybe something dangerous, like a box of matches or a pocket knife, right?) and hope the kids turned out to be better than that son-in-law or daughter-in-law, of whom we can only marginally approve. “Geez,” we’d muse about our child’s choices, “why didn’t she marry a tougher guy, maybe a biker or an ultimate fighter?” or “why didn’t he ever hook up with girls who know how to have FUN?”

Such would be the challenges, of bringing the dismayingly neurotypical, the boring and bland, into our otherwise vigorous and outgoing family.

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#2

Oh, I think there’s no doubt that if anybody’s brains are off, it’s the normal ones. Just try to describe the ways of normal as logically as you can, and there’s your proof. “No, you see, we have to produce this completely superfluous product and a lot of others, too, because if we don’t produce enough, we don’t have enough jobs for people to make money so they can buy all those completely superfluous products…”

I’m not sure I buy all of your description of our continent, though. For starters, we wouldn’t have enough planes to have trouble with air trafiic control. You see, inventing a plane is fun but building lots of them gets boring pretty quickly.

Movies, too. It’s fun to write them, shoot them, edit them and all that, but distributing them? Not that it’s necessarily boring, not on a continent where every studio has their own tech standards because it’s much more interesting to come up with your own than to adhere to an existing format.

My point is, we need people to make things boring for us, or our society would collapse. (Likely wouldn’t even get started, really. Much like theirs, obviously.) Of course, we can never allow for them to take over…

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#3

The thing is… there really isn’t a “normal” that actually exists. Oh sure, there are averages, but most of the time, there is never a person who is average. ( see https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/on-average/ for a fun story there)

What most people think of as “normal” is basically an illusion of a shared culture, and will vary from person to person. Even just trying to define what is normal is a hard task. So “Normal” just becomes what’s perceived as being the most common, or as a ideal standard that people “should” be. And even that is hard to define as that’s all based on culture and internalized values.

So basically, “Normal” is one of two things: If you like to think of yourself as being part of the mainstream culture, “normal” is anyone like you. If you like to think of yourself as being part of a counter or sub culture, “normal” is your parents, your boss, the man, the other thing that you define yourself by not being like.

Either way, it kinda doesn’t matter who’s “normal” or not. Humanity is far too complex and varied for something like that to ever exist.

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#4

Yeah you’re right, “normal” is a construct. My little extravagant scenario is proven to be very silly, by the simple statement (above) that there wouldn’t be very many airplanes available on my totally-ADHD continent. That clarifies the point, doesn’t it?, that “we” ADHDers may have certain advantages but they aren’t necessarily the ONLY advantages available in the human condition, and the “normal” people (a.k.a. non-ADHDers) certainly also have certain advantages (which include, in this example, the capacity to organize plan arrange maintain and produce large numbers of airplanes in airplane assembly plants) which “we” might not have in abundance.

But, conceding that and related points, nevertheless my scenario is still a helpful thought-experiment, because it aids me in remembering that my “weaknesses” aren’t necessarily any “weaker” than “their” “strengths”.

(I think I’m going to have to start putting “every” “word” “which” “I” “write” “inside” “quotes” …)

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