A sense of humour

You see it in corp/guild/kin/clan/”insert MMO in-game group here” recruiting posts all over the place: have a sense of humour. Sometimes it is the context of “we have a sense of humour”, and sometimes it is more along the lines of “sense of humour is required”. I find the latter type wryly amusing, as if that group is the final arbiter as to what counts as a sense of humour. What they really mean of course is “make sure you have our sense of humour”.

My gut feeling when I encounter such posts is not to give that group a second thought, because I know full well I probably will not share their sense of humour.

Difficulty in social interactions is one of the defining characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome. How it manifests however can vary greatly from person to person. For myself, one of the ways I notice it comes in the to and fro of good-natured ribbing and mutual teasing. Basically, I don’t get it.

Or rather, I do, intellectually. It’s all about social bonding, a sort of human version of chimpanzee mutual grooming. But, if someone were to tease me, good-naturedly, I would at first think they were insulting me. The number of people for whom that is not an instinctive reaction number in single figures, and even them not always. Quite simply, my first reaction is take people literally.

Of course, I know the chances are the person is just teasing me – but I have to think it through. Sometimes I don’t manage it for several seconds, and sometimes I don’t manage it at all. It is tough enough when you are facing someone – at least then I can look to visual clues to help me interpret someone’s intentions. But in voice-only communication, or written-text, it gets harder – and that’s before one adds in the wrinkle of cultural and linguistic differences.

The same is true in reverse. I often find it difficult to tease people, because I have to fight the part of me that thinks I am genuinely insulting the other person. This is one reason why I find social events incredibly tiring – because I always have to be “on” and concentrating on what people mean, rather than what they say – and trying to respond appropriately even though it feels “wrong”.

So, if I see a “sense of humour” entry in a MMO-group recruitment effort, I’ll just let them get on with their fun and games, and go further in search of my own. Restricts my options quite a lot, but I figure we’ll all be happier in the long run.



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