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Featured Could I ask a question about masking?

Discussion in 'Love, Relationships and Dating' started by Brit, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. Brit

    Brit Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    what does masking mean to you? I understand that in social situations many of us, to one extent or another, pretend/ or try to be better versions of ourselves, is this what masking involves?

    And when you’re truly yourselves, is it really any different to just letting loose and not paying attention to social expectations. Is this it? Masking sounds like such a mystery..
     
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  2. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    Masking is when I stop fidgeting, make eye contact, fake a smile and nod my head as they talk, remembering to use certain phrases such as "how are you" and "oh that sounds interesting," being highly aware at all times that I must not do or say anything at all which could potentially lead to them thinking I'm weird.
     
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  3. Mia

    Mia Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't quite think of it in the same way as you might, I'm not attempting in social situations to be a better version of myself. I'm looking to fit in with that particular crowd, usually acting in a similar fashion as the others do, dressing as they do so that I don't appear to be an outsider.

    The last time that happened, the masking that is, I was at a social function a few weeks ago. These were all people I had known since childhood. I stood talking with several people near the bar, they were joking, laughing, I listened, responded, they told stories, I told stories, laughed at their jokes. They spoke quickly, and there was lots of back and forth chatter among them. They drank, I had coffee. We all ate, and then it was over and I could leave.

    This kind of interaction, is something I can do, but don't like doing. As I don't really see it's purpose. In my regular life I can't even tell a joke, as I rarely remember the punch line. As soon as I realize people are listening I become anxious.

    This kind of masking behavior is a stage play for me, acting out the part of a captivated audience who is interacting to be social. Scratch the surface of this facade, and you'll find that I'm thinking about many other things at the same time as the social interaction is occurring. So I'm not truly there, my mind is elsewhere, as much of what is said for me is banal and uninteresting. The things said I've heard many times, the jokes, the stories, the reminisces, for me it's a repeat of most social interactions. And it seems pointless to me.
     
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  4. Michael Balog

    Michael Balog Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I call mine the service mask cause I had to be engaging, courteous and approachable while I worked at a hotel. It also involves me not getting irritated from small talk and being able to not seem odd while conversing with guests.
     
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  5. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Mostly to pretend to react in a Neurotypical fashion in real time.

    Paying great attention to what is said, to laugh, look interested and ask questions. To get along, you go along. Even if it doesn't really mean a damn thing to you.

    With a primary intent to keep out of trouble and avoid detection as someone who doesn't think or act like the social majority. To avoid being socially ostracized.
     
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  6. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member

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    I had not even heard of masking and then, when I did, I consider I never masked it, due to how people respond to me, however, I guess to a certain extent, judging by what Fino says, I have masked a lot.

    There are two people whom my mask comes off too and I love them dearly.
     
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  7. some/aspies/need/hugs/13

    some/aspies/need/hugs/13 Member

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    Masking to me is hiding the real you... I haven't masked in a long time because I want everyone to accept me for me... Also I don't conform to societal norms and most of the people in my life understand that..
     
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  8. onlything

    onlything Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Masking is when I pretend to be someone else. Maybe I even become them for a short while. It's based on the behaviour of other people, like a faulty copy of another person. It's like putting an itchy suit on yourself. It works and you can pretend you're not yourself for some time - but it becomes jarring, even painful after a while.

    When I stop masking, I stop smiling, making contact and analysing surrounding conversations to find the most efficient answer. I stop playing around with pointless small talk, start to fidget. I've been told my face gets a blank look like I'm not fully there. I've also been told that it can be quite creepy to witness.

    Masking is lying. You lie about what you like, who you are, what you believe, how you behave. You lie about everything. For a moment, you're someone else. It's never perfect but it's different enough from yourself to make you fit in.
     
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  9. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Indeed. That's a critical point to understand about masking one's traits and behaviors.

    Just how physically and emotionally exhausting it can be for many of us on a prolonged basis. Where regardless of the stress of work itself, it's the social part of the equation that might leave you wanting to crawl into bed when you get home.
     
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  10. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    So many good answers here. I always find this a fascinating topic.

    For me, the distinguishing factor is whether I have to consciously do it. If I can internalize it so that it becomes second nature, then it's not masking - it's a real change.

    But if I have to make a conscious effort to do it, then it's masking. And the mental effort can be exhausting.
     
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  11. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Oddly enough, I suppose that if I were to ever get so good at it without any emotional or physical cost, then I should probably head for Hollywood.

    I know Daryl Hannah makes a nice living at acting, despite being on the spectrum. As do a few others...

    I have always been mortified at the prospects of public speaking. But had I been able to view it from a perspective of my own autism, I might have been able to "harness" it all for a more positive- and profitable life. Though in my case it's just a wild degree of hindsight.

    Had I only known much earlier rather than much later.....<SIGH> :oops:
     
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  12. clg114

    clg114 Still crazy, after all these years. Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    There is one big advantage of being a grumpy, old man. At this point in my life, I really do not care to much what others think of me. The only ones that matter to me are my family. 20 years ago or so, I used to mask for my customers because proper communication was vital to business. Now days, people just think that I am weird but they contact me because I can fix their problem.
     
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  13. BraidedPony

    BraidedPony Just Enjoying Survival V.I.P Member

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    For me I have to watch what I say. I tend to blurt out opinions that others find "cold".
    I also have to watch what I laugh at because what I find funny other people think is rather sick.
     
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  14. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Me too. Guilty as charged. :oops:
     
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  15. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    When I was a nurse and worked at the hospital, every room I walked into had a different mood and you could tell when you walked in what kind of mood it was. So here was the beginning of each shift, more or less.
    Rm1 Happy - "Hey! How you feeling? I'm your nurse tonight, blah blah blah". while smiling.
    Rm 2 Very sad - "Oh, I'm really sorry to disturb you. I'm just checking in to see if everything's okay. I'm your nurse, so let me know if you need anything" serious expression
    Rm3 laughter - "Hey! I'm your nurse - 'insert joke here'." everyone laughs.

    You get the idea - Room to room were very different moods and I fit each one of them. How? It was all an act anyway. I didn't have my own social mood or social personality so I could change moment to moment according to others. At social gatherings I just became someone else - would take cues I've learned along the way. Real Me, though, rather be alone, quiet, doing my own thing, so please go away. That's what I consider masking.
     
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  16. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Yes similar to @Pats, I am always masking in social situations as otherwise I would get up and leave. Apparently that's not acceptably sociable though. At work it's a mix because less sociability is more normal at work, in order to do the actual tasks....
     
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  17. inkfingers

    inkfingers 19 year old Aspie artist and Jesus follower

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    For me, masking means pretending to be NT, no matter the cost. This includes making small talk while trying to look someone in the face and pay attention at the same time, desperately trying to understand what they are saying through the background noise without saying, "What?" every two seconds, and generally trying to hide any abnormalities that may come through. Oh, yes, all the while keeping a running dialogue in your head of what to say next, how to respond, did the person react well to what you said, are you being rude or awkward, and so on....

    It's really exhausting work, but I do it so that other people won't think badly of me.
     
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  18. SolarPoweredNightOwl

    SolarPoweredNightOwl Walking contradiction

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    Masking, to a "professional", is called "social camouflage", because NTs apparently found adding unnecessary syllables and jargon preferable to adopting a perfectly good term from NDs.

    Masking, to me?

    Masking is internalizing from an early age that people are hostile to those different from them, and the less obviously different I am, the less I become a target for random aggression. Learning to avoid notice altogether is quite useful. More than one person has noted my ability to be invisible in plain sight.

    Masking is suppressing my empathy, learning to turn it off like a light switch, to prevent it being used as a weapon against me. Masking is learning to be cruel when necessary.

    Masking is learning to read others, and to read social hierarchies, and cliques. Masking is deciding that if I'm going to be labeled no matter what I do, I may as well dress or act or speak certain ways, and thus choose my own labels.

    Masking is analyzing everything that everyone says around me, scanning tone, scanning the words for literal meaning and for known possible subtexts, determining what merits a reply and what sort of reply, and having to do it extremely quickly, which is hindered by issues with speech processing and sound filtering.

    Masking is learning to disguise my stims or forego them, so as to avoid unwanted attention. As a child, it was bullying, as an adult it's mockery or suspicion of drug use and mental illness by authorities.

    Masking is learning a bunch of meaningless small talk scripts, learning which ones to regurgitate on command, learning to randomize phrasing to seem less "canned", and occasionally looking up popular things to provide conversation fodder. A quick Wikipedia browse is much faster than sitting through a television show.

    Masking is suppression of pain from sensory sensitivities. Masking is learning to partially shut down rather than melt down in the face of sensory and cognitive overload, so as to maintain the facade, and preserve enough function to avoid helplessness when in public.

    Masking is crawling home exhausted, burnt out, unable to do anything of meaning, because of the effort spent processing speech, analyzing social situations, reading rooms, suppressing pain, suppressing the urge to lash out, to make them all shut up, to stop the noisy things and the insinuations and their damnable staring eyes.

    Masking is forcing myself to follow the whims, routines, and rituals of others, contrary to my own interest, contrary to my fundamental nature, every day. When I inevitably fail, masking is hating myself for the days I cannot.

    All of that, for me, is or has been masking. Some of the more screwed up behaviors I'm trying to unlearn, and I'm trying to learn to mask less. It's a work in progress.
     
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  19. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Not really.
    one has to know what those social expectations are in order to class it as not paying attention to them.
    Difficult to notice something that doesn't exsist.

    much repeated rejection and negative reaction during earlier stages of social interaction lets us know what may NOT be acceptable in social groups,

    but wont state or highlight precisely what is.

    By observing those we think know what they're doing (aren't rejected in social groups)
    we may emulate their presence, reaction, gestures but can never emulate their feelings.

    Can't "fake it til you make it" because feelings aren't evoked.

    Holding back the 'natural' and putting in place scripts and mimicry requires cosmic effort.
    Sustainable for a certain length of time,
    far too much to remember and 'get it right' to keep up indefinitely.
    (the reason social events or work can be draining ?)

    I believe masking to be the roles I'll play in a given situation.
    Covering what may feel natural to me with something else I believe to be generally more acceptable to others.
     
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  20. Brit

    Brit Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Such interesting responses.

    And when you stop masking, is it a retreat from the social? Less talking, more focus on things that are actually of interest to you. Rest?

    Is any conversation outside of your own area of interest ever natural, is it ever fulfilling?
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019 at 7:51 AM