The building we entered was long, narrow and darkened. By the right wall lay a rather small stage-like area, containing little more than four semi-fancy chairs; by the left, a line of foldable metal chairs for the audience. In the far-left corner was a black-iron spiral staircase leading up to a balcony overlooking the floor below. To the right of that staircase was a hall of public bathrooms, and to the right of that was a well-obscured set of drinking fountains. This modest place, located in the heart of Richmond, was the Coalition Theatre. Here, I would watch the performance of Asperger’s Are Us, a group of sketch comedians with the same condition as myself.
Editor’s Note- Cassidy wrote for us last year, you can read it here. Here is a follow up from her, sharing a huge step forward. Help us share Cassidy’s progress. We are so proud of her!
Hello, Internet! Cole here. The wonderful Christmas season has finally come and gone once again, and we’re all just picking up the pieces now, making what happy memories we can to keep our hearts warm through the biting physical and spiritual cold of January. I’ll do my part to spread the little cheer that remains by describing my own memories of Christmas vacation. This year, I celebrated Christmas by visiting my grandparents in Illinois. This type of vacation is not an uncommon event for me – in fact, it’s been a tradition for some time in our family to visit our grandparents each Christmas season. Nevertheless, a number of elements and events were out-of-the-ordinary this year, enough so that I consider this particular vacation worth writing about.
Hello, Internet! Cole here. It’s been some time now – senior year’s been busy – but I’m finally back to writing for pleasure now. Today, I’d like to review a play I saw in October. Its name was “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, and it was very, very good.
During my childhood, I was very malleable. Someone could tell me anything, and I would believe it wholeheartedly. This state of mind, of course, was not abnormal for my age – most children are susceptible to lies, which is why society has a responsibility to teach them properly. However, I also grew up alongside the Internet, where ideas of all caliber spread and mutate like bacterial cultures. Every computer and every mobile device that I used served as a vector for the ideas to enter my mind, and my mental “immune system” was still too weak to distinguish realistic information from nonsense.
In this vulnerable state, I discovered a video titled “Spirit Science 6 ~ The Flower of Life”. Therein, a blue patchwork animated character described the titular “Flower of Life”, a geometrical pattern created by drawing circles centered at the intersections of other circles, as well as the symbols this pattern could construct (including 2-D representations of all 5 Platonic solids). This subject would be fine alone, but the video also claimed that the Platonic solids had elemental powers and that the Flower was the universe’s progenitor. In short, it combined mathematics – my personal favorite subject – with mysticism.
Soon after watching this video, I binge-watched the others in its series, drawing myself ever further into the world of Spirit Science. The character explained, among other details, that well-being was based on the state of “chakras” within the body; that humans possessed psychic abilities; and that we once lived as enlightened beings on the lost continent of Lemuria before emotionless Martians imprisoned us in our current reality.
Though I no longer believe these things, my faith in these videos from the Internet had substantial impact on my life at the time. I took a field trip to Morefield Mine in the 4th grade because I believed that the crystals there would align my chakras. For the same reason, I purchased an overpriced Kyanite necklace (said to balance all chakras at once) from a local jeweler. I also tried to communicate telepathically with my cat, to its annoyance.
I mainly believed because I liked the fantastical element of the videos. The view of reality they presented seemed far more beautiful than reality itself. But more importantly, I saw little harm in believing. The videos were unrealistic, but they weren’t hateful, and they told me I was “free to believe or reject” what they told me. I didn’t think my incautiousness was dangerous. But then I discovered online conspiracy theories.
These theories told their own narrative – a hopeless, terrifying narrative wherein indomitable enemies plotted the destruction of everything I cared about. Because I read them from multiple sources, they often contradicted one another; some stated that the evil forces were human in nature, while others claimed they were the Martians described by Spirit Science. Since I was new to critical thinking, I never fully discounted them as “possibilities”, instead worrying about them constantly and hating myself for not “doing something.” I couldn’t live like this – it would destroy my mind.
So I made a decision to protect my own mind. Certainly, the videos and conspiracy theories could be correct, but I had no evidence besides Internet videos to prove them either way, and believing them all was hurting me. Therefore, I decided, it would be better to assume these ideas false if they weren’t defensible in some way, rather than to assume them correct immediately. Whatever I believed had to hold up to scrutiny, or it wasn’t worth believing.
I no longer believe in Spirit Science or conspiracy theories. I respect those who do, and I try to consider some of their ideas carefully, but I will never subscribe fully to any one worldview ever again. All ideas, even if deeply held, should be questioned – that’s how one grows.
Defeat at District Champs
Hello, Internet! Cole here. I haven’t talked about robotics in a while, so I’m going to revisit it this month. Blue Cheese, Deep Run’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team, still exists, and I’m still part of it. Specifically, I ghostwrite and proofread certain documents related to various awards, such as the Chairman’s Award, a highly prestigious award given to teams who “best represent a model for other teams to emulate and best embody the purpose and goals of FIRST.” I am also part of the Chairman’s team, a subgroup of Blue Cheese dedicated entirely to receiving this particular award. Chairman’s, you see, has its own type of competition within FIRST; the winners of the award at a lower level of competition automatically rise to the next highest level to compete with other winners, meaning a team who wins Chairman’s at a regional competition goes to District Championships and a team who wins at District Championships goes to the World Championship.
Each time I have to fill out these scales, which are long and time intensive, I get frustrated.
March 2018: More Trivia Questions
Hello, Internet! Cole here. Last year, I wrote a brief article in which I responded to a few trivia questions – nothing too special, just an interesting way to show off my views of the world and have fun in the process. This month, I’m going to do the same thing, because as we all know most major publications rely at least in part on creating similarly-themed content for long periods of time.
In my previous article, I discussed the first half of my experience; now, I will detail the second.