The LoFi PANDEMIC Series #5 Solomon Smith

Solomon Smith: Gaming, Autism and Connection

Joel Imber has a hilarious chat with Solomon Smith, a long-time Youth ARC living legend and one of the youth centre’s most iconic regulars! As an autistic person, Solomon is really passionate about raising awareness for autism. An incredibly giving and thoughtful young individual, this chat is one not to miss!

Joel: If someone was to ask, who is Solomon, how would you explain who you are in a nutshell?

Solomon: Enthusiastic nerd who loves helping our community

Joel: that is perfect, that is absolutely correct! One really amazing thing that you did, many years ago at Youth ARC was raise some money for Autism. Can you explain a bit more about that?

Solomon: I was wanting to do something good when I planned to cut my long rats-tail off which I had been growing for 16 years!

Joel: That is a looooong rats-tail! Haha, I do remember. What brought that on? Can you tell us how it all went down?

Solomon: Mostly I felt like it was a good time to run a good event in April, which worked out well in terms of being able to plan it well, and it was a good time to do it for August. I raised about $2000 in total, which I think was about the fifth highest in Australia at the time. If you’d like to see the grand act, it will be on the Youth ARC Facebook from many years ago.

Joel: Nice work Solomon! That was quite some time ago. What’s your earliest memory of coming into Youth ARC?

Solomon: Probably about 2012, 2013 when I start getting a bus to Youth ARC which was followed by Bellerive Drama.

Joel: Sure that was seven years ago! In your opinion, what value do you think the youth center offers to young people?

Solomon: It’s connectivity; it’s a great social hub! It also has a good variety of thinks for every demographic and audience within range.

Joel: What about some of the facilities, I know you and I had a good thrashing of video games over the years with a bit of Halo and the old classics. What are your thoughts about the evolution of video games?

Solomon: Well I find at the moment, at least with our youth demographic, we all seem to be playing more general fighting games on the whole. With video games, I feel not much has honestly changed.

Joel: What’s come to your attention, especially in the online video gaming world and thinking about something like Covid, where a lot of people have had to retreat to going back indoors?

Solomon: Coincidentally enough, a lot of games are actually putting in their own messages. For example, Dirt Rally 2 has it on their banner while you’re driving around. Also PSN’s are currently having issues, like it’s being really slow. Xbox was having similar issues about two weeks ago.

Joel: Yeah I suppose the congestion with the amount of internet usage has just gone through the roof?

Solomon: True! At some point Youtube will automatically default all videos to 480p (HD), they’ve already started doing it in Europe. We might as well hook up the CR2’s and AV cables again haha.

Joel: haha yep we’re going back to HD! For those who don’t know, that’s some old technological systems! How did you stumble across some work? And what were some of the adventures there?

Solomon: Well you guys have provided me with heaps of opportunities for volunteer work, especially with YAS, the Youth Advisory Squad. In terms of other work, I just generally always put my name out there and then I’ve heard back about things. I always like to put my hand up when applicable.

Joel: If you could do the most ideal job you could ever think of, what would you like to be doing?

Solomon: To be quite honest in terms of ideal job, and that’s practical I’d like to be a gaming machine attendant and bar tender.

Joel: What a perfect mix! Could you do them both at the same time?

Solomon: Yes, If it ever reopens I’d like to become a bar tender at the Reply Bar in the mall which had to get shut-down after it had only been open for about two weeks!

Joel: yeah that’s a shame; I really hope that things get moving real soon.

Solomon: Yeah and I hope Tas Pins is able to start back up on Launceston.

Joel: what’s that all about?

Solomon: It’s a pinball expo!

Joel: So the Youth Advisory Squad, tell me a little but about some of your involvement? What’s YAS set up for? What would you like to see happen with YAS in the future?

Solomon: YAS is meant to help advise Council on the youth demographic and matters that are pertinent. The main things that have come up for example are mental health, public transport being a major one. Nonetheless that’s our general setup. We get together, we have our meetings and we try to get councilors in or advisors from council where possible. In terms of the future, I’d just really love to be hanging out in person again, as the current format is an online check-in. It is good though, at least it keeps some structure and routine even if we’re not discussing diplomatic stuff.

Joel: that’s been the big adjustment in the digital realm, where we’re looking at a computer screen talking to each other. Have you found the adjustment difficult? Have you seen any pros and cons?

Solomon:  In terms of communication on a societal level, I more see that we’re going to actually have better connection. In the digital and the physical world once this has settled. Funnily enough I think we’ve had our period of people going into a frenzy over trying to get supplies they don’t need that much of! But I am seeing a lot more positive messages online instead of what can be a toxic cesspit if you’re not careful!

Joel: You’ve got a lot of strong and valuable opinions, definitely over the years that I’ve got to know you. If you could magically wave a wand and make some serious changes for young people in Tasmania, what would be some of the top things that you would like to see improved?

Solomon: Well as alluded to, we need to have more mental health supports, especially in terms of the fact I still see a problem with social stigma. Public transport is a major one too, in terms of cost.

Joel: Is that something that you’ve seen potentially improved over the years? Or has it become more difficult?

Solomon: In terms of my public transport, that’s been up and down. But in a general sense we need better and cheaper bus transport, not even necessarily rural areas. For example Sorrell isn’t really good, adult concession is like $3, and full adult is about $7. It might be cheaper to buy petrol and drive!

Joel: Well Solomon its been a great and informal chat! We’ve talked about a few different things. It’s a bit sad that we don’t get to connect in person, like with yourself and many other young users of Youth ARC in general. But we’re looking forward to the day where we can reunite and have a good game of Halo!

Solomon: Indeed. See you when I next do Joel!

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