Sounds like a stupidly irrelevant scenario, I know.
But if Masquerade applies then every generation makes first contact new. Every year group would. You'd grow up and learn whatever your culture thinks you need to know, think you have a handle on it, and then boom, here's something nobody ever bothered to mention. And maybe you've got some hasty paradigms ported over from genre fiction, but if all the schemas there to activate are fiction, if your scripts are built for drama from skewed discourses based on unexamined ideologies that are probably only using the parts for allegory anyway, well, you'll be lucky if you have any clues which way to jump. Every generation, every graduating class, gets presented with this problem as if brand new, and they have to reinvent the wheel, every time.
And it reminded me of disability. And just a bit of being queer. But disability presents you with whole new problems, and if you've only got mainstream media to draw on, they look... insurmountable. Appalling. Demons walking, apocalypse has come, end of the world time.
There just aren't that many scripts for it, because almost everything is meant for the currently abled, written by them, meant to make them feel good.
There's whole swathes of disabilities I've only ever seen represented in horror movies. Or F&SF, cast as something other than human. Or, like the screenwriting books actually teach you to, only included on the moral model, a mere sign or symbol of some kind of character defect.
And there's things that writers do to characters and then just... they've got no clue what to do next. Oh no, x can't y, what do they do? Bear up under it bravely for long enough to give the actor some mileage, then either get cured or get written out. Be a very special episode, maybe. Even stuff that's weird F&SF tropes trips over this one, since being turned into an animal or a ghost or whatever is usually treated as wacky hijinks as nobody knows how to cope, instead of being broken down as a series of impairments that each and all have centuries of pattern in how to cope up and running somewhere. I mean the ghost that can't touch anything and a paralysed person have a lot in common, an animal has lost fine motor skills and speech, these things happen and people get on with their lives.
But the stories don't tell us that. We have to get ourselves out there and learn it, somehow, not be taught in a useful formal setting. And we have to do so against serious drag force from stories that only get as far as oh no, what do?
So I'm sitting here reading Star Trek fic, and they're talking on the Prime Directive, as if it's about technology, engines, bombs, and I'm just... rage. Serious, long term, well banked rage. Because the absolutely key part of first contact is knowing that you're not alone. That others have been there first and survived. That you don't have to feel this as an ending, just a new step. And withholding that from your neighbours? Just leaves them ... drowning, not knowing anybody ever learned to swim.
We teach our children, we teach our friends, we teach random people on the internet if they happen to stumble across our tips at five a.m. It's how we as a species survive and it's how we as intelligent culture bearing people help each other survive.
To deliberately withhold that, until enough happens everyone involved has got to deal with it anyway? Leaves generation after generation, year group after year, relying on their first instincts and whatever clues they can pull together.
And that cannot be moral.
And I feel that today as someone who got a nice formal diagnosis from somewhere that could recommend me books to read, and still, wanted to send all the leaflets to every school I'd ever been to, because none of us had the parts then to figure me out. And I feel it as someone who got years into college before knowing there was even a department for helping people like me. And I feel it as someone who didn't find the social groups for my lot until... I might have been thirty? Late twenties at very least. And that was even with well meaning help. But thankfully the internet, for friends and much data. But the stumbling blocks to get there...
Masquerade says everybody's normal here. Cover up first contact and you never know there's anyone out there to meet who isn't just like the mainstream.
And I knew a lot of us find survival tools in stories about the other sorts of people, the ones the cover ups are there to hide, but it just struck me from this other angle how very, very much I hate the cover up in the first place.
I know there's a ton of story about hiding from a world that hates and fears us
if there's no Professor to reach out to you
you'd have to be a bloody mind reader to have a clue.
So I just suddenly felt very strongly about first contact
and all the people who don't make it
because they have to be the reaching out ones
and they don't even know there's anyone
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