ASD in Society

Erika Szántó

The stigmatization of neurodivergent people is still prevalent in this current age. This is highly surprising considering the fact that approximately 15-20% of the world’s population is neurodiverse. So why are we like this? Why don’t we know more?

Let’s take a look at Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), for example. Even to this day, diagnostic criteria is often based on outdated findings that cannot accurately show how autism actually works. Most of the research surrounding autism was based on how it presents in young boys, even though it is nearly as common in girls as well, and can display entirely differently in adults. Because of this, the older you are, the more difficult it is for you to get diagnosed properly, especially if you are female. To make things worse, if you have the diagnosis, you can be discriminated against on the job market and probably won’t even be able to access proper accommodations.

ASD is often demonized by a certain popular autism support group, a “charity” that overshadows other charities that actually help people on the spectrum. A surprisingly large amount of people still believe in the repeatedly discredited study that says vaccines cause autism, and would rather have their children possibly become seriously ill just to “evade” that threat. The portrayal of autistic people in the media is likewise inaccurate, often infantilizing or even making fun of autistic traits. Furthermore, people are starting to use “autistic” as an insult because they’re learning that it’s offensive to say “retarded” now, so they just target a smaller group.

It is in human nature to exclude difference and cherish similarity. Perhaps this is causing so many issues in modern society.

The Failure to Retain Awareness of Global Issues in Modern Society

Kaya Tunçer

In our day and age, global interaction and ease of communication are at their all-time peak, and it is plausible that they will only increase. However, one might come to realize that there is no shortage of half-truths and unnecessary information in the minds of the people, occupying the space that could be better used to combat the struggles humanity faces. This could be linked to the bloating of the main network of communication on Earth, the Internet.

Of course, it could be argued that people have the freedom to think and care about whatever they wish. As much as people believing in things that aren’t correct or caring about insignificant things may harm our society, attempts at changing their minds would prove futile. Then, what about those who—seemingly—care about the well-being of society?

This piece will focus mainly on Western society for convenience.

Occupy Wall Street

In September 2011, a crowd of people gathered in Wall Street to protest the social and economic inequality, greed, corruption perpetuated by big corporations and their unnecessary political influence.

These gatherings did reach some success, as one of the major goals, increasing minimum wage to 15 dollars, was reached. Even if not on a federal level, many states did increase the minimum wage.

Still, in 2022, it would be considered childish by many to believe that the world’s corporations don’t have a massive, unprecedented and unacceptable amount of power. Then why isn’t this discussion still being had now, at least not on the scale of 10 years ago?

The Death of George Floyd

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed in police custody. We all know the massive wildfire of protests, looting, outcry and socio-political debate born from the spark of his death.

The people who followed the events following his death would also be familiar with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act; a legislation aimed at avoiding a similar situation in the future, combating police misconduct, racial-religious bias/profiling and the usage of excessive force in policing which passed the Senate and was integrated into the Government, right?

In fact, the act never passed. It was blocked in 2020 as it could not get enough votes in the Senate, and when it was reintroduced in February 24th, 2021, it still failed to pass and collapsed in September 2021, preventing any kind of meaningful police reform.

Surprisingly (or not), most people who are aware of the events regarding George Floyd’s death don’t know about these particular events.  

Keeping in mind that the whole reason any kind of investigation and legal action against the murderer of George Floyd happened in the first place was because of public outcry and the fact that by 2021, conversation on George Floyd had died down, it is reasonable to assume that the public’s lost attention on the topic contributed to the failure of the passage of the bill.

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

In the beginning of 2022, the Russo-Ukrainian War escalated, and Russia launched an invasion on Ukraine. The invasion has lasted for 7 months and still continues.

Thousands of civilians, children and soldiers alike have been killed, tortured, maimed; there has been tremendous economic loss since the beginning of the invasion and there is no indication that it will end any time soon.

Media coverage of the atrocities committed was very high near the beginning of the invasion, but it seems the world’s attention towards the ongoing incident has diminished.

The Common Denominator

In the three given examples, each problem has failed to be resolved. Quite simply, this is because the general population has stopped caring or has completely forgotten about it.

Society has forgotten about these problems, and in doing so, has condemned and deemed “worthless” those affected by them.

 Why Does This Happen?

The logical conclusion is that this is linked to the influence of social media and the characteristics of its average user.

The overwhelming majority of users on social media suffer from having short attention spans and craving acceptance, praise and attention from others. This leads to people resorting to virtue signaling and focusing mostly on top trends and controversies. As people lose attention and interest in a topic, a cascading effect occurs, which ultimately leads to the complete abandonment of the issue. In other words, the rate at which trends and subjects lose attention is augmented. 

These “symptoms,” paired with social media’s hold on society, result in what we see has happened with the three events above.

All in all, social media’s massive influence on societal issues and commentary, paired with its user base which is unfit to wield it, results in massive consequences, with seemingly no simple solution.

If not solved with haste, this unapparent, self-manifesting and dangerous problem could have serious consequences in the future, even if we pretend it hasn’t already affected who knows how many things for the worst.

The most terrifying thought concerning this societal phenomenon, though, is the fact that this is not a plot or a conspiracy by any group or person. It is a simple result of that which humanity has set up for itself. There is no one to blame, no one to bargain with and no one to seek a solution from.


Dorina Dian

Freedom can mean different things to different people; we can approach the concept from the whole universe through a planet to a society made up of individuals. We might think that in the universe the planets and stars and everything is free, but in reality, gravity controls everything, and they very much depend on each other, or else the whole system would collapse in an instant. Nature and societies work the same way. So what if a society doesn’t depend on another? We can say it’s free. What if a human being doesn’t depend on others? Then they are free.

But in human life, everything we do or say has an effect on those around us, because that’s how the system works: We communicate and work and evolve together so we can go ahead. We are brought up and controlled by our parents so we can evolve, we are controlled by our teachers to evolve, then we are controlled by employers and companies so we can be helpful to society. So basically limitless freedom could never be reached, or as I have mentioned, the system would collapse. We can never be utterly free in our lives BUT we can experience small fractions of it as we go on our paths.

So how does freedom work within the borders of our society? Equality before the law is freedom, religious equality before the law is freedom, because, according to such law, we are not oppressed or controlled by others. Obviously this is not entirely true, but if in some cases we are allowed to choose, that definitely constitutes freedom. For us teenagers it is compulsory to go to school, and by that time in our lives when we are so close to maturity, it becomes more and more obvious that we are controlled and we don’t want to be. But what is hanging out with friends from school, what is reading or watching films or listening to music? For us, those could be called freedom. For adults, freedom could be much more because they are able to do so many things that we can’t, including traveling or buying things. To be able to do these kinds of things is freedom. So we fight for it all our lives. We learn and work so we can move out and start our own individual lives, with our own house and own friends and money. So we could be independent, so we could be free.

But what if we forget society and all the alarming factors that cause dependence and just look at the big picture? Because freedom could be anywhere at any moment. A girl sitting on a plane and looking out the window at the clouds could feel freedom. Birds flying high in the sky can feel freedom. Antelopes running in Africa are free. Whales hunting in the sea are free. Atoms in the air are free. Shooting stars in the sky are free.  Freedom can be captured in moments, tiny or big, it all depends on how you live them. When you are happy you can feel it, and you can be happy any time.

Freedom is a hard concept to describe because it means different things to different people. But what is for sure? It’s worth fighting for it because life would be meaningless without fighting for things. Reading a book after a long day at school feels better than just reading a book. Hanging out with friends is more exciting when you have worked so hard all week, and swimming in the sea on holiday after a long year is just the best thing ever. Everything is made of freedom, we just have to find it.

Truth as Primary Importance

Joshua Robles

“It is not their passions I shall appeal to. I ask only for their cool and impartial reason.”

– William Wilberforce, Abolition Speech, House of Commons, 1789.

What are our primary goals in life? What is it that we long for and search after the most earnestly? When a conflict of desires occurs, what is it that trumps all others? These are the questions that affect our society to its very core. Society’s opinion on these questions non-negotiably affects every facet of our personal life, as well as how society’s structures are set up for the accommodation of whatever the answer to that question is. What we value is of vital importance. In recent history the abolition of slavery in the United Kingdom is one of the most powerful examples of the answering and the application of this question. The United Kingdom changed their whole economic system on the belief that “all humans either black or white were created equally in the image of God.” This primary belief of the abolitionists is the very reason that they were willing to forsake all other interests, such as not setting their economy back 30 years. When faced with the truth and conflicting desires they valued the truth over all. Looking back we can all see the goodness in the truth. Everyone of us has a value that trumps every other value. If that value that trumps all others is not actuaIly the most valuable then we will constantly be neglecting things of primary importance. The searching of truth must be the highest value of all.

The “value ladder” as it is used in this essay refers to the objective value of different things. The purpose of this essay is to analyze a particular value ladder of our age and to propose a value ladder that is more in line with reality and thus better for all of us who happen to be heavily affected by reality, that is “the truth”.

An increasingly common sentiment in mainstream media and social life in general is this idea of personal happiness over all other values. We frequently hear, “Whatever makes someone feel better and does not harm anybody else I don’t think should matter to anybody,” or, “If that’s what makes them happy then it is fine with me.” Both of these sound somewhat nice and frankly quite liberating. Why shouldn’t happiness be our main goal—or, even if you think it shouldn’t be our main goal, why do you care that it is someone else’s?

“Contentment is a dangerous thing.” This phrase seems to hold less prominence in our age. What it means is that when a human being gets a taste of life that they enjoy more than their previous life, they become fearful of engaging in anything that would challenge their newfound, comparatively seemingly better life. However illogical this behavior may be, we all suffer from it one way or another.“Contentment is a wonderful thing,” is probably the phrase that is more compatible with today’s world. Undoubtedly one of the main reasons people are willing to give reason the backseat to contentment is that a lot of people think that the conclusion they will come to with reason is unpleasant and not really worth living. Thus, they embrace whichever lifestyle they want and refrain from any form of critical thinking that would challenge it. Now if it is true that the reality and the truths of this world are so abysmal that living in accord with them is just simply not worth it, that would be one thing (I will comment on this later), but if the opposite is true then we are shortsighted, and we find ourselves in a very dangerous and tricky situation. It is this shift from the content being afraid to engage with the thinker, to the thinker being afraid to engage with the content that is so dangerous.

Critical thinking is in its very core opposed to placid contentment as well as to contentment as our ultimate goal. Critical thinking requires that freedom of thought and expression be granted to all, which in turn requires an ability to endure offense. I say “free thinking” because the taboo of questioning the present norms of contentment is very frequently hushed or canceled. Many people do not even pause to really think or engage in conversation about why they believe many of the things they agree to in daily life. They simply brush it off with a cliche like “Everyone has the right to believe what they want,” while completely ignoring the fact that if any belief is worth anything at all then it deserves to be engaged with and shared, for it would be selfish not to do so, and if it is worthless then what was all the fuss about offending it in the first place?

In practice we do not believe in the same free speech that those before us believed in. Freedom of speech at its beginning was intended so that with the exchange of diverse ideas in an inclusive setting we would be able to refine our views and get closer to the actual “λογοs”(truth, reason). Now free speech, in the areas in which it is tolerated, is done so that people can proclaim whatever they want, but striving after truth is no longer the primary goal. In our daily lives we give values to ideas primarily based on how they make us feel, not whether or not they are true. As a consequence, it is becoming increasingly difficult to freely strive after truth.

Our present-day society is under the illusion of change; it defends this with the statement that freedom is at an all-time high. I would argue that in many ways we do not realize how much work we still have to do and that even, in some ways, we may be worse off than when we started. It seems to me that when Charles Dickens said “Good never comes of such evil, a happier end was not in nature to so unhappy a beginning,” he was right. The rebels of the French Revolution, though fighting against ruthless oppression, became just as ruthless if not more so. We may have changed what we got ruthlessly unforgiving and angry about, but at its heart the same sentiment remains. Charles Dickens caught the never-ending cycle of history that those within history seem to always fail to realize. In the Middle Ages people would be silenced for questioning or calling out the Catholic church; now people are silenced for questioning or calling out mainstream media.

Now, what must be said to someone who thinks that reality is so abysmal that any notion of happiness that is grounded in reality is simply depressing and pointless? Even if reality is bad, is it possible to be happier disconnected from reality? Initially I am tempted to say that this is possible as long as the figment of our imagination is better than reality. But I believe this answer is way too simple and seriously misses some points, and in doing so produces a problem that is impossible to escape. First off, what does it miss?

One of the main causes of depression is a sudden event in life that demands we have a right perception of reality, combined with our thinking being disconnected from reality. This can happen, for instance, when a social media influencer expects perfection in themselves and then suffers an accident that mars them in some way. They are thus left with a false idea that has defined their life and a reality that they can’t reconcile. It is this state of despair and confusion that has been one of the leading reasons for the 56% increase in suicide among adolescents in America. According to Jennifer Weniger, PhD, a licensed psychologist and marriage and family therapist at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center, the feeling of not belonging in society (or having an idea that does not belong in reality) is one of the primary factors that leads to suicide. Thus, if we are living a life that is disconnected from reality at some point or another, reality slaps us in the face hard enough to put us in a serious existential crisis. And the less we care about truth, the less it takes to put us in that existential crisis.

Secondly, the problem is that anyone who claims that having happiness not grounded in truth as your primary goal can make you happier than truth as your primary goal must claim that it is possible for a human to live their whole life unaware of reality as well as unable to sense reality. This is obscenely preposterous, not to mention far from anything anyone should desire lest they live a completely self-centered life completely devoid of meaning and usefulness.

Happiness is a very narrow goal; it falls short of our basic needs. What are you going to do when you are suffering or dealing with a challenging situation, events which make up a great deal of our lives? Rather, it is far healthier for a society to search after an accurate sense of reality and truth. Such a pursuit feeds our most burning desires and can be undertaken throughout our lives no matter the circumstances in which we inevitably find ourselves. In other words, happiness should be the result of seeking after truth rather than the thing we are primarily seeking.

Dance Is a Puzzle

Petra Varga

I think there’s no people on earth like Hungarians, who know exactly what their predecessors danced. In the early twentieth century, ethnographers started to discover the dance and traditions  of Hungarian villages and regions with the lead of Martin György and Pesovár Ernő. Thanks to these archive films that we have preserved, we are able to learn every move and gesture of Bözsi néni from the 1930s.

First, you try to learn the foot moves one by one. Every village has their own dance, maybe it only differs in a few details, but there’s always a special editing of the moves, dance morals… etc. After you learn the foot moves, you have to examine the play of the upper body. In some villages the people gave more of a role to their upper body than their feet. When the moves are ready, you have to master their morals.  I think that this is the hardest phase of learning a dance, because you can identify with their morals or not. Somewhere the dance of the women is more dominant; it’s like a show. You can play with your hands, use asymmetric moves, whatever you want. And somewhere you have to strictly adapt to the men and stand straight without any playfulness all the time.  Last but not least, you have to shape all the previously learned steps to yourself.

Dance is a puzzle. You can put pieces together, but it will only show an image if it fits. Fits to you.

Puzzle Without Rulebook or Guide

Lídia Szabó

In our world one of the greatest puzzles and mysteries will always be ourselves, human beings.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always enjoyed observing people and their behaviors (and I’m certain I’m not the only one, obviously). Imagining how they would think in different situations or how I would act if I were in their position. Just for starters, humans are so complex and there are so many different sides to observe when we get to know someone. Which emotions are dominant when they talk in different situations, what kind of opinions they have in certain matters, if they can express their thoughts very intensively and profoundly or are better at showcasing their judgment and viewpoint through action. I also enjoy surrounding myself with people who are very different from me but who have an attribute or a thought that has made me want to learn from them. Usually people think that certain happenings determine and guide our lives and get us to places where we have to be. But in my opinion, that could never happen without other people being involved, and if the action stood by itself, without other people getting involved in your life, it wouldn’t make much of a change. Every single person entering our lives is there to teach us something, whether it’s about the world, human behavior, or even ourselves.

It gives us joy (at least to most people) to be around others, and just one smile from another could make us thrive with happiness as well. We love to listen and talk to each other, learn about each other’s behavior, get to know what we love and what we dislike and why.

I think human beings are one of the most complex puzzles in the world, because they don’t have an ultimate solution and they’re always changing. There is no guideline or rule book for a human brain, heart and soul. And that is why I find it one of the most exciting and entertaining puzzles of all time.

The Pointlessness of Puzzles

Gergely Sülye

I don’t like solving puzzles. They aren’t really a game as much as just an assignment that has been thought up, already solved by its inventor and only serving as a test for others. Because eventually anybody can solve it, but those who have already done so can feel a sense of superiority, albeit one that doesn’t last long because the solution will either be revealed or others will solve it by themselves in just a matter of time. And is reaching the truth even worth it? A puzzle can reveal a picture or a hidden meaning, which most of the time isn’t anything serious, just a plaything. One real application of puzzle-solving is perhaps uncovering the secret clues left behind by a particularly playful criminal, which doesn’t happen frequently but of which there are examples. Or deciphering messages sent by an enemy in times of war. In any case, despite the relative frequency of these cases, they don’t happen often. Outside of the cases where the solution serves an actual and important purpose, I think solving puzzles is not rewarding enough to be worthwhile.

Almost Completed

Eszter Klára Szabó

When I think of a perfect puzzle, our class comes into my mind immediately. Every member is a single piece that, when coming together, can complete a beautiful picture. In ninth grade we didn’t know what the picture would look like yet. We’re all different colors and shapes; some of us may have thought that we would never fit together. But eventually, as time flew by, we all found our pairs.

Or did we? These things can be pretty tricky if you ponder them long enough. Sometimes you think you have found your people – your matching pieces if you will – but then you get into an argument or just simply lose interest in each other. When these things happen, do not panic! It all happened for a reason. In time everyone will need to find their own group, the one that fits both their color palette and their figure. Some pieces are closer to each other, others are further apart, but they are all equally important in order to see the breathtaking end results.

I believe that during our three years together we have our story, our own puzzle almost completed. It may have some minor changes in the future that we can not see yet, but I am not worried about it. I am certain that in the very end it will look even better than it does at the moment.

Your Imaginary Puzzle of Life

Eszter Aletta Hevesi

Finding logic in everything that happens in your life is a very complicated thing to do. At each moment you have plenty of pieces to put in your giant puzzle, but there are special pieces that do not have places just yet. But will they ever have a place? Will it be one giant puzzle that represents your whole sequence of life?

If you think about it, you are basically always in the moment, and there are two cases when you are at your final moment. Either you realise that that is it for you and you die with that type of consciousness, or you don’t even recognize the second of your passing because it happened so quickly. Will you have time to finish your imaginary puzzle of life? Will you carefully choose a designated place for each piece of the puzzle?

Will your lifelong series of butterfly effects have a grand final outcome? Yes, they will. Your passing. At that place, time and state of mind that you will be in. Will you have time to figure out why everything happened? Probably not. You don’t need to. You don’t need to know about your purpose because you are not here for only one purpose. You have dozens of purposes in life, and they cannot be put in one overall puzzle.

I think everybody is a series of finished puzzles. Some people have only one finished puzzle, but others may have hundreds of thousands. It depends on you. Let life guide you to new pieces of puzzles in your life. Leave a beautiful series of puzzles behind you at the end of it all.

All You Need

Zsófia Szabina Gávris

I firmly believe that every person has been told the sentence “All you need is…” in their lives at least once. The missing essential can be money, love, a partner, a job, a car and infinitely many other factors. But what exactly is that we need?

Let me bring situations of human life parallelly with a puzzle. During the different phases of a person’s life the missing piece of the puzzle changes. At a young age humans are not conscious about their actions, preferences and needs. The objects children identify as their needs are usually toys, food and other materialistic values. However, at an older age people tend to stand for intellectual values and needs.

In my opinion, the great change starts at around age twenty. By that age most people discover the importance of the effort put into themselves. After people realize they only have themselves throughout their whole life, and start to prioritise and invest in themselves, a lot of things change.

The way I see it, in order to improve and grow, we have to find the missing piece which is nothing else but ourselves. Being on good terms with ourselves can lead to success and further development as well. Finding ourselves can mean several different things. It can mean the acceptance of our features, abilities, talents, in one word: who we are. Moreover, finding ourselves can mean changes our hobbies, everyday life, circumstances and career path too. Also, finding ourselves consists of returning to our past-self after a harsh period of our life. Of course it can have many-many other perspectives, differing from person to person and story to story.

In conclusion, sometimes the missing piece of the puzzle we are/have been looking for is right there, in front of our eyes. It is myself, yourself, himself, herself, themselves … just in a phase that it has not grown into yet.

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