Google: A Hostile Workplace For Non-Neurotypicals?

Google: A Hostile Workplace For Non-Neurotypicals? By Rod Dreher.

I wonder if fired Google programmer James Damore is on the autism spectrum. It has long been known that a disproportionate number of people in software development show signs of having Asperger syndrome. It has a lot to do with why they’re so good at their jobs.

Aspies — the term is not really used anymore, but it was when my family became acquainted with the condition — are not neurotypical. Their brain’s wiring makes it easy for them to focus intensely on narrow interests, and they tend to be brilliant at the things that they focus on. Software development is a natural field for them. Microsoft even has a program to hire more people on the spectrum, because the neurological condition that makes many jobs difficult for them also makes them great programmers. They are detail-oriented, and can often see the logic in systems easier and quicker than others. …

People on the spectrum usually lack the ability that neurotypicals have to understand social signals, emotional cues, and social hierarchies. … Aspies often say things bluntly, but they mean no harm. And they tend to take things literally. For example, if the company they work for tells them that it values open expression, they may not understand that the company doesn’t mean that literally. The point is, it is very, very easy for people on the spectrum to step out of line, without meaning to. It is difficult for them to understand how things look to other people. This is not because they have bad character. It’s because of the way their brains are wired. …

Does this have anything to do with James Damore and his case? I have no idea. Perhaps Damore is not on the spectrum. But I tell you this: I feel very sorry today for Google employees who are on the spectrum. They may have little to no intuitive feel for how the social, and social justice, hierarchy at the company works, and won’t know if something they think is unproblematic is actually stepping on a land mine.

As microaggression obsession turns workplaces turn into neurotic hothouses, they become far more dangerous places for people on the spectrum, who are at a severe disadvantage navigating through these dangerous waters. …

Reader yahtzee elaborates:

What you’re saying here is exactly right: bright, red lines and clear, concise goals with measurable results are what make sense to people on the spectrum. Judging social cues, who’s in, who’s out with the boss, understanding (unspoken!) hierarchies, playing office politics; these are things that people with high emotional intelligence are better at.

Mix in a totalitarian, all-consuming religion that dominates social media and has colonized parts of the tech world, and you are creating an environment where the rules-based autistic folks are going to be eaten alive.

The new inquisition is based on watching the right people and the right trends, and knowing when to declare that, not only are we at war with Eurasia. We’ve always been at war with Eurasia. And knowing to declare it loudly.

Oh, and another thing that trips up autistic folks: rule #1 about the social order is you can never talk about the rules of the social order, or acknowledge that it exists. Well, that’s not going to work, because talking about rules and order is pretty much a favorite pastime of people on the spectrum. It’s why Freddie DeBoer is always on the outs with the Twitterati on the left, because he’s slightly autistic and can’t follow rule #1.

The totalitarianizing left has enough problems trying to convert people with any sort of message other than the cudgel of fear. The idea that they’re going to wake the sleeping giant of tech-autists, and convince them that there’s no place for them in the utopia they’re trying to build is popcorn-worthy, to say the least.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

It’s difficult to understand the modern world without understanding the aspie phenomenon. It’s also a characteristic that is distributed quite unevenly across different groups.

hat-tip Stephen Neil