Now Reading: I Want to Go on an Autism Social Media Blackout & Why You Should Too…

I Want to Go on an Autism Social Media Blackout & Why You Should Too…

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(originally written December 2, 2014)

My wife bought me the first version of the TiVo DVR way back in 1999. 

We were extremely early adopters because we are tv junkies and because we don’t like to watch commercials…or watch the news…
I hate the news, I hate politics, and I try to avoid them as much as possible. 
I’ll gladly binge watch season 2 of “30 Rock” on Netflix for the 8th time then watch live television at 10pm or 11pm on a weeknight. 
And for the first 9 years we had the TiVo, without even realizing it I was going on major news blackouts. 
For a couple of years there a major news story would happen and days, sometimes even weeks would go by before i heard about it… 
And for the most part i was  fine with that..
For example, remember when the Chilean miners were trapped for 69 days and the world was riveted to their story?  Well I didn’t hear about it until maybe day 41.  LOL
And as I said for the most part I was fine with my self imposed news black out. 
I was living my life, dealing with the good & bad of my own stuff, checking the sports news, watching my shows on TiVo, fast forwarding the commercials, and avoiding the real news. 
I could tell you the ins & outs of the baseball steroids scandal, who the celeb guest was on Howard Stern were that week, but not the first thing about the 2004 presidential primaries. 
And then Facebook came along and I jumped on the FB bandwagon in 2008 just in time for the elections and then I couldn’t avoid the news cuz all my friends were spouting political stories and opinions while I was still posting old pics from grade school. 
And so for awhile there, due to Facebook  I couldn’t avoid the news and people’s opinions. And I was starting to be more up to date on the news and the topics of the day, but I didn’t feel any better about myself…
 In fact sometimes knowing what’s going on in the world is down right depressing!  And know thanks to Facebook knowing that my friend’s political & religious leanings are so different from mine can be down right eye opening!
But no one in my FB news feed was talking about autism. 
So in April 2011 I started the autism daddy FB page and slowly found myself pulling away from regular Facebook and spending more of my time on autism daddy talking about autism. 
And I started reading other autism bloggers & following other autism FB pages and setting google news alerts on autism so I could be somewhat knowledgeable of the autism topic of the day…
And now my newsfeed is filled up with all autism, all the time and it can be very overwhelming a lot of the time. 
And because I’m getting all the autism “news” I’m reading all the good stuff and the bad stuff as soon as it happens. 
The Issy Stapleton tragedy, the CDC Whistleblower story, even the uplifting Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16C letter/blog post that went viral…
…all of these stories felt like HUGE news stories to me. 
And they were huge news stories to us in the autism community who are active on social media and who actively seek that news out…the autism news…
But they are barely a blip on the radar to the general public.

And part of me wants to go back to them being a blip on my radar. 

Perfect example. My uncle has a 12 year old son with moderate-severe autism. We were chatting while both our sons were getting their special needs swim lessons a few weeks back. 
I mentioned the Kelli Stapleton verdict and that there was now another case where a mom killed her ASD son by throwing him off a bridge. 
And he had no idea what I was talking about. 
He hadn’t heard about either story. 
No my uncle is not Internet savvy, he’s not on Facebook but he LOVES the news.  Fox News or CNN are on pretty much all day in his house. 
And he hadn’t heard about either story. 
And in that moment when he told me that I was extremely jealous. 
Jealous that he could have an autistic son, be knowledgeable in all things relating to his son, be an active autism dad, and a champion for his son’s rights (attending iep meetings, etc) without being entrenched in the daily craziness that is the “autism community” on social media. 
Now I love you, autism community, I swear I do, 🙂 but there’s some weeks where I don’t want to read about another missing autistic kid, or another tragedy, or even another happy story about a kind waitress who was nice to an autistic kid and cut his burger the way he liked it.

There’s some evenings when I’m in the living room hanging out with Kyle after a typical work day and I’m feeling annoyed or anxious about something. 
And I’ll have to stop and think “why am I in a bad mood right now?  work was pretty good, Kyle is being good and had a decent day behaviorally, what is stressing me out?”  and then I’ll realize it’s because of some horrible autism news story I read earlier that day or some miracle autism cure story someone sent me that I’m feeling guilty for not trying on Kyle.

But because I am now so entrenched in the autism social media scene I am forced to see these stories…
And I’ve come to accept that. That’s my problem.  I started this blog.  I have a 100k followers on Facebook, I feel like I have somewhat of an obligation, a self imposed responsibility to be pretty up on the latest news, good or bad, within the community.

But I’m not as up to speed on the autism stories of the day as many other autism bloggers out there.  I get in a funk reading a few stories a day…I don’t know how some of them do it, autism 24/7 without going crazy…

But you folks?  You average, run of the mill autism parents?  You don’t have to do this!
If I wasn’t Autism Daddy, if I didn’t have this blog & platform, if I were you, I swear I would try to TiVo my news feed to only feed me what I want to read about… Sports, tv, movies, etc, with maybe a teeny bit of autism thrown in. 
If I were you, I would turn off the autism settings on my life…or at least turn them way down so maybe I didn’t hear about the Kelli Stapleton story when it first happened….maybe didn’t find out about it until day 41 or ever…
If I were you I would go on an Autism Social Media Blackout… at least once in a while… maybe a couple of times a year…  clear your head from all these autism stories that nobody else knows about except us autism news junkies down in the trenches.  Readjust your Facebook feed to only feed you entertainment stories, and sports stories, or politics if god-forbid you’re into that…  🙂

Or even better get off of social media altogether during your blackout…

The holiday season is a perfect time for this.

Go, take a break… I’ll be here when you get back…

And me?  I’ve got to get better about reading all this stuff that y’all send me and not letting it affect my day because I don’t want you to stop sending me things.

And I’ve already written previously, that “I’m Different Than Most Autism Pages & Blogs.  I don’t like reading or talking about autism that much”

So I probably won’t be breaking any autism news stories on my FB page.  I try to mainly share stuff that’s going on in my little house at the corner of Autism Avenue & Epilepsy Street …my personal stories, and challenges and rantings and celebrations or little articles with advice about what might’ve worked for us.  Y’all seem to like the more personal stuff, and I figure you’re probably getting your fix on the real autism news of the day from other autism sites or blogs or FB pages you’re reading…

And once in a while I’ll write a post on one of the biggie autism news stories like Seinfeld, or Kelli Stapleton, or Toni Braxton.  I’ll mainly throw my hat in the ring and write about those when I feel like my opinion or take on things is different or unique from most of the other bloggers & voices out there.

But for the most part I’m gonna write about my autism life and leave the hard hitting stories to others.

And while I won’t go on my own Autism Social Media Blackout you may find that I’m posting & blogging less this holiday season.  Sometimes I need to unplug too, delete the FB app from my phone for a few weeks to force myself to be less “Autism Daddy” and more dad to Kyle and husband to wifey, ya know what I mean?

Wow, this has been a LONG, rambling post!  I hope this makes sense and you get what I’m talking about.

Have a joyous holiday season and enjoy your self imposed Autism Social Media Blackout!  I highly recommend it!




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Written by

Frank Campagna

I’m a 48 year old neurotypical dad with a 14 year old son with severe, non-verbal autism & epilepsy. I created this blog to rant about autism & epilepsy while celebrating my son who I affectionately call “the king” :-).

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8 People Replies to “I Want to Go on an Autism Social Media Blackout & Why You Should Too…”

  1. I know exactly what you mean. Ever since I began to suspect my son was autistic, I have immersed myself in the autism community online. I have read so many horrifying, sad and depressing stories since then and sometimes I can't stop thinking about it and it ruins my entire day. But those awful stories also make me hug my babies a little tighter and appreciate the love in our lives, as well…
    I think social media brings attention to a lot of negative news in general, and not just in the autism community. I think we should all make an effort to go "unplugged" at least once a week to try to give ourselves a break from it all.

  2. It makes sense, a lot. The news is filled with horror and agony. Walk away! Facebook is filled with news and it drives me batty. Thankfully I have several friends that have also taken a sort of news hiatus and will post about the positives in the their lives or the acts of kindness they discover. The world makes me sad and that reflects on my son. I can't have that. We have been through so much, still are going through so much as it is. Resperidone is helping somewhat, he has only been on it for a month now, but I do see some changes and they are for the better. Take care!

  3. I too have google alerts and spend a lot of time trying to stay current on what is happening – but I have learned to only read the headlines and if I find them interesting I will read the whole story.

    I also only read through the blogs once a week. That seems to help me keep it under better control.

    I will admit that I never watch the news – I always tell my husband that if something important happens he should let me know -otherwise I just don't want to hear it.

  4. Lou

    My husband calls it "all autism, all the time." He gets pretty frustrated when I get caught up in that cycle. It's hard, though. We want to do everything we can for our kids, so we feel like we need to understand everything we can about this very perplexing condition. But, I think you're right; we can overdo it. I need to unplug, too.

  5. Anonymous

    I hear you. I have a separate email address for all my autism stuff, and some days I turn off the noise and just hit "mark all as read" and move on. It's kind of satisfying.

  6. Make it "Doctor Who" instead of "30 Rock" and that is my choice, too.

    Enjoy your blackout – may it refresh your mind, heart, and soul. 🙂

  7. Have done it myself and highly recommend it. Enjoy your time away :).

  8. Have a restful Social Media holiday….TTFN!