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The Autist’s Guide to Planet Earth

‘People are strange when you’re a stranger’ – Jim Morrison

I. Social Unitting
II. Education
III. Economy
IV. Communication
V. Morality and Responsibility
VI. Travel Advice

I. Social Unitting

The main objective of the average Earthling is not individual happiness but acceptance and success within their social units.

Every Earthling is a member of several social units which are direct, concrete or abstract. The direct unit is immediate family while the concrete units are those whose members know each other personally, such as workplace, school, church congregation, regular pub etc, many of which tend to be interlinked. Another unit, the circle of friends and acquaintances, is usually drawn from these social units.
Abstract social units are those whose members don’t know each other personally, such as nationality, race and religion.

In general Earthlings don’t identify themselves by personality, interests and opinions but by the social unit which is most important to them or most relevant in the situation, such as nationality, religion, political orientation etc.

Within their social units, Earthlings strive to be as successful as possible and are in permanent competition with each other. (The element of competition amongst Earthlings can’t possibly be overestimated.) Success in this context means of course accomplishments that manage to impress others within their social unit; an epic poem on the Trojan War is, for example, unlikely to excite the members of a football fan club while an autograph from one of the players will.

A lot of Earthlings have a bizarre conception of the term pride. While many are understandably proud of their achievements, others claim to be proud of belonging to certain social units (nationality, race, religion etc), as if it were an achievement to be a member of (and, in most cases, having been born into) that unit.

Even everyday conversations of Earthlings, as innocent as they appear on the surface, usually focus on more or less subtle competitive elements and display the speaker’s tendency to show off, challenge or belittle.

Competition also plays a large part in their relationship with friends, such as comparing scores of any kind, playing competitive games and even identifying with the victories of others within their abstract social units, such as the local or national football team.

Besides competition, hierarchy is another important component of being an Earthling. Everybody needs a place within a hierarchal structure, with leaders and followers; those at the top of these structures usually believe in invisible beings who watch over them while those at the bottom keep dogs or children they can boss around.

There are many Earthlings who change their social units, especially after their childhood when they find they disagree with their parents’ or guardians’ opinions on certain issues. But they will always join other units and, usually unquestioningly, absorb this unit’s world view.

Nuances of individuality are tolerated to a greater or lesser extent, but very few Earthlings venture outside the socially accepted spectrum of self-expression.

If the vast majority of a social unit consider a custom or habit to be necessary or acceptable, most Earthlings will automatically do the same, regardless of how immoral or inhuman that custom may be; from the physical, psychological and indoctrinational abuse of children to slavery and genocide. And of the handful who realise that these practices are morally wrong, very few have the courage to speak up; after all, they’d be putting their social status at stake.

Standing out is only acceptable in the past. This may sound strange, but while society venerates those ‘heroes’ of the past who brought about the social changes that are in place at the moment, all those ‘heroes’ were and are ousted by their contemporaries for opposing the present social structure.

While visiting their planet, it should be kept in mind at all times that loyalty to the social unit is the most cherished value and far more important than justice or honesty.

II. Education

Earthling children do not learn by experimenting, enquiring and logical thinking but by copying adults and following instructions. While in this way they develop their motor skills considerably faster than we do, most of them never develop any questioning skills. Whatever a person in authority orders them to do or not to do or to believe or not to believe is accepted without any request for an explanation.
The lack of questioning skills is a major shortcoming of Earthlings and would lead to the status quo remaining indefinitely were it not for us.

Most of their academic education consists of practice and repetition and leaves little space for creativity and critical thinking. In general, creativity is confined to specific arts classes while critical thinking is not encouraged at all.
The most convincing arguments used in an Earthling’s education are ‘It was always done this way’, ‘That’s how everybody else does it’ and ‘Because I say so’. In scientific matters, they are being referred to authorities in the particular field whose methods and conclusions are not allowed to be questioned.

However, the main objective of the Earthlings’ education system is not what they learn but whom they meet. Making connections is the most important part of their schooling because knowing the right people is vital to further their status and career in later life. As they say themselves, ‘It’s not important what you know, it’s important whom you know.’

III. Economy

After a period of exchanging goods, Earthlings invented money made of precious metals whose value equalled that of the product, and after a while some made lending money and charging interest their business. Later they realised that money doesn’t need to have a value in itself if it is backed up by authority. Still later they found out that money doesn’t even have to exist physically and can just be made up by those in authority and transferred from account to account. This put a handful of Earthlings in control over the entire planet’s population, including their governments and media.

Earth’s economy is based on the grotesque concept of constant growth which, naturally, doesn’t happen. The resulting recessions put a lot of hardships on the lower classes who have to pay for the mismanagements of the ruling class. In order to distract from their mistakes, the ruling class habitually resorts to scapegoating and declares one or more social units responsible. And even though it sounds rather obvious, this tactic usually works in turning the victims against each other.

The lifestyle of an Earthling depends on their financial balance, regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Those who own a few monetary units live as poorly as those who owe a few units, and those who owe several billions live as lavishly as those who own several billions.

With permanently increasing mechanisation at the workplace, a lot less manual labour is required. This could have been an opportunity to distribute the remaining workload equally and let everybody benefit from it; instead, employers force potential employees into heavy competition over full-time positions with each other, leaving many of them to live at (or below) the margin of existence.

The largest industries by far are religion and warfare which are interdependent. In order to stay in business, the armament industry relies on producing justifications for wars all over the planet, and due to their lacking questioning skills the majority of Earthlings accept these pretexts and echolally them at every given opportunity. While the Earth’s leaders and even the weapon manufacturers pretend that they really want world peace, albeit according to their conditions, they all know that world peace would bankrupt the armament industry and with it the planet’s entire economy.

To make people feel less guilty about supporting these wars, the members of the targeted social unit (usually a nation, race or religion) are portrayed as subhuman. Over the past century, the Western World has started paying lip service to the idea that all humans are equal, regardless of race, nationality etc, but in their subconsciousness the notion that members of certain social units are inferior and not really human beings lives on. Many religions reinforce this idea by teachings that either directly or by interpretation call for the extermination of specified social units.

Earth is divided into exploiting and exploited countries. While most people in the exploited and many people in the exploiting countries suffer from starvation, the food wasted in the exploiting countries alone would be sufficient to feed the entire planet. In order to sell as much as possible, supermarkets, restaurants etc stock more food than they’re likely to sell; when this surplus food has reached its sell-by date, it is dumped, and most places have their bins locked away to make sure nobody can eat it.

A particularly strange notion of Earthlings is that of land ownership. It is believed that all land belongs to a person or a nation, as if they had produced this land manually or purchased it from the one who did. Naturally, there are opposing and overlapping claims over most territories which provide the armament industry with many opportunities to supply the quarrelling parties with anti-personnel weapons and devices in order to solve their disagreements.

IV. Communication

Earthlings use communication for a number of different purposes of which the exchange of information is only one, and a minor one at that. Language is used to bond, comfort, encourage, reassure, instruct, compete, manipulate, plea, threaten and deceive, to mention but a few. Sometimes language is simply used to avoid an awkward silence or to pass the time, in which case the current local meteorological conditions are a particularly popular subject.

Besides language, Earthlings have developed a series of non-verbal techniques to communicate with each other, such as body language, facial expressions and various tones of voice. The better one is able to understand and interpret these codes, the better they are equipped to manipulate those with a lesser understanding.

It should be kept in mind at all times that Earthlings not always mean what they say, and even if they do, they often follow an underlying agenda which can be difficult to figure out.

Alongside their economy of resources and finances, Earthlings have also developed an economy of truth which can range from withholding relevant information or combining unrelated facts in order to draw incorrect conclusions to outright lying. While some of their techniques are relatively harmless, such as paying false compliments in order to get into somebody’s good books, many of them are designed to gain an advantage at somebody else’s expense. There are cases in which this economy, strategically put into place, leads to the incitement of hatred against other social units, often followed by pogroms, crusades and genocide.

Earthlings are easily offended, often for reasons that are almost impossible to comprehend. For example, what seems to be an honest question might actually be a technique called ‘Fishing for Compliments’, and the person asking is expecting to hear something nice about themselves. A truthful answer can cause grave offence and even end a close friendship. But they’re not only sensitive to criticism about themselves, saying anything critical or unpopular about their social unit or one of its other members can be enough to make them fly off their handle.

As with everything else, the underlying element of competition plays a large part in their communications. While many Earthlings already have a strong tendency to overestimate their abilities and knowledge themselves, they are also prone to even exaggerate their supposed strengths when communicating with others in an attempt to attract the others’ admiration and envy and make the other party feel inferior.

Most Earthlings are gifted with the ability to multitask. They can manage to hold a conversation, watch a film and knit at the same time, to give just one example – and females outdo males by far in this respect. Still, a lot of them fail when it comes to focussing intensely on something important.

V. Morality and Responsibility

The sense of morality in Earthlings is mainly shaped by their social units. For instance, apart from the few units that promote self-centredness or group loyalty at all cost, most societies would agree that it is generally wrong to kill another human being; however, all societies allow exceptions to that rule, and many Earthlings avail of that possibility.

Be it consciously or subconsciously, moral rules appear to apply more within the social unit than in interactions with others, which is often justified with remarks like ‘They don’t do that, either’ or ‘They’re different from us’.

And even the existing morals are easily overwritten by authority. The worst atrocities on Earth have been committed by people who just followed orders and thus repudiate any responsibility for their own actions.

Responsibility in the true sense of the word is generally avoided altogether. Many take on responsibilities in order to occupy positions of power; yet when all their projects crumble and fall apart, they will hold another person or social unit responsible rather than admitting their failure. Ironically, the only Earthlings who tend to openly claim responsibility for their actions are terrorists.

While most Earthlings are perfectly capable of rational reasoning, the majority base their decisions on emotional factors which, due to their gullibility, often leads to unnecessary catastrophic consequences, which can range from private to a global disasters. For example, when political or religious propaganda has succeeded in dehumanising the members of another race or nationality which supposedly causes their problems or is evil for believing something else, most Earthlings tend to support genocide, reassured by the fact that this is the majority position within their social unit.

And even making the most obvious moral decisions can take Earthlings a very long time. Rather than doing the right thing straight away, regardless of the consequences, many of them contemplate over the issue, considering how their actions will be received within their social units and how it might affect their career and their standing in the community. And even after a long period of pondering, they might still make the wrong decision.

Earthlings take a lot of pride in their perceived ability to empathise, though this ability is different from just imagining what somebody else might feel like and acting accordingly. While they are to a certain extent able to imagine the feelings, viewpoints and agendas of others and even predict their reactions, the intensity of their compassion depends on how close they are to the affected person. They are considerably more empathic towards people they can identify with; they are extremely concerned about others within their direct and concrete social units and show a lot of sympathy towards those within their abstract social units. But if anything happens to persons outside their social units, most of them shrug it off by saying ‘Those poor fellas’ or even blaming the victims by claiming that ‘they brought it on themselves’.
This may well be a coping mechanism since emotionally relating to the plentiful sufferings of billions of people on their planet is quite an overwhelming experience.

VI. Travel Advice

If you are planning an extended visit to Planet Earth, the most important piece of advice is not to copy the natives. Trying to fit in might appear a tempting thought, but it will not only exhaust you beyond your means, dull your senses and most likely make you look silly, it will also remove your identity until you’ll finally withdraw yourself entirely from the world around you – and that’s not the purpose of your stay, is it? Besides, even the greatest performance will not make you an Earthling and might even be considered a mockery of their way of life.

That being said, of course you want to socialise and get to know them. Just let them know you’re a visitor and don’t understand most of their customs and rituals. You will often find yourself under pressure to do things that have no logical reason behind them, but be sure never to compromise your moral principles and not to harm anybody in the process; if this is expected of you, stand up for what is right, even if nobody else does. That way you will make enemies, but you will not make an enemy of yourself!

Learn to manage your candour. Before saying something, think about how your statement might be perceived. Could someone get offended? And if so, does it still need to be said?

Earthlings will measure your abilities by the standards of their own species and thus treat you quite condescendingly. Don’t listen to them, and don’t allow them to discourage you! True, they can do things well which you may be clumsy or even pathetic at, but the opposite applies as well. You’re able to do things they can’t do and sometimes even don’t understand. And since they are not in a position to spot those talents in you, you’ll have to do it yourself. Find your superpower!

The company of Earthlings can be very demanding, even if they show goodwill and understanding. If you feel the need to take time out, take it.

Above all, enjoy your stay. And despite (or maybe because) of all our differences, you’ll be able to learn something from them, just like the smarter Earthlings will learn something from you as well.

© 6255 RT (2014 CE) by Frank L. Ludwig