Weaponized Autism

Weaponized Autism

Part of a series on Autism. [View Related Entries]

Updated Jun 20, 2019 at 04:04PM EDT by Kevinvq2.

Added Mar 13, 2017 at 05:53PM EDT by Don.

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"Weaponized Autism" is an expression referring to the impressive capabilities of socially awkward, tech-savvy internet users, typically associated with those who frequent imageboards like 4chan and 8chan.


On August 20th, 2010, the internet humor site Cracked[7] published a listicle titled "The 5 Most Ridiculous Martial Arts Movies Ever," which described the powers of the protagonist in the 2008 martial arts film Chocolate as "Weaponized Autism."


On December 19th, 2014, FunnyJunk[6] user friedgreenpomatoes submitted the comment "I think we have finally weaponized autism" in response to an anecdote regarding a student at school who attacked another student for saying that "old Spongebob episodes were garbage." On April 5th, 2016, Redditor Fahrenheit_616 posted an gallery of screenshots taken from a 4chan thread in which viewers identified the location of a Rebel training camp in Syria, which many speculated led to its subsequent bombing by Russia. In the comments section, /r/The_Donald[9] users described the incident as an example of "weaponized" and "military grade" autism. On September 11th, 2016, YouTuber dougRiss uploaded a video titled "Anime Thesis," in which he speculates that anime was invented by the Japanese as a form of "weaponized autism" against the Western world (shown below).

On October 25th, Redditor elsuperj submitted a post asking for /r/AskThe_Donald[3] readers to "explain the 'weaponized autism' in-joke." On November 29th, Urban Dictionary[1] user BarrySoetero submitted an entry for "weaponized autism," defining it as "the focused application of nerdiness, computer tech avvy and social awkwardness in the cyber pursuit of justice" (shown below).

weaponized autism The focused application of nerdiness, computer tech savvy and social awkwardness in the cyber pursuit of justice, Payback or even serving the public interest. Real world results originating in social media, online forums and other Web locales. Damn!!! Those 4Chan dudes f----- that child molester up!!! Hacked his Facebook and Twitter--Posted his conviction to all his family and friend. Weaponized Autism like a m-----------!!! by BarrySoetero November 29, 2016

Following the capture of the He Will Not Divide Us flag in early March 2017, which 4chan users discovered by tracking flight patterns and star movements, many referred to the incident as an example of "weaponized autism."[4][5] On March 14th, Redditor aspergersteen submitted a post titled asking about the phrase to /r/aspergers.[8]

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Time for some important realtalk.

Being autistic myself, this meme is quaintly amusing to me, and not just because the flattery. Both this and other autism memes, including not-so-flattering ones, are funny to me because of a truth I've realized in the years since my diagnosis: society conditions us to be thin-skinned. I was once shocked and repulsed by 4chan's use of the word "autist". It was unthinkable that they would trivialize people's struggles with autism to use as an general term of abuse!

Then I received a diagnosis.

It was hard for me to accept! Asperger's had been on the table for a long time, but I clung to the other possibility of ADD instead. I don't know why I was so much more afraid of autism than of ADD, but I wouldn't be surprised if 4chan's slurs played a part.

But as I grew to accept my disorder, I began to see something. I actually fine with the 4chan usage of "autism"! What's more, I saw that my shock was rooted in the line of thinking, Oh, just think of all those poor children with autism! I was infantilizing the disorder and the people with it. Once I saw that, and even started using the word in a coarser way myself, it was easier to accept my autism. The last of my shame and fear was gone. I could say to my autism, "I'm not afraid of you," and I could remind myself not to let it become a part of my identity.


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