Sunday, July 20, 2014

Disabled Person Competes in Something, What Happens Next Is Completely Normal but Gives Society Misguided Hope.

We've all seen those "news" articles that talk about a disabled person "beating the odds" or whatever, and now with the ubiquity of social media, these things are going viral. Stop it, please, just stop it.

Inspiration porn is bad enough on its own.  If you're not sure what inspiration porn is, the quickest explanation is Scott Hamilton's ridiculous quote, "the only disability is a bad attitude". That quote has been plastered on so many pictures of disabled people doing normal things, and it sickens me. Stop trying to convince everyone that either people like me are not disabled or that our disabilities should motivate you for some logically impossible reason. "Oh, look at him, if he can live a normal life, why can't you?" First things first, no life is normal. Secondly, I am not your measuring stick; I'm not here for you to realize that you "need to be" like me, or better than me. In fact, if you aim to be better than me, please get as far away from me as you can before you reach your goal.

If I somehow invented my own adaptive equipment that let me play golf with one arm, go ahead, please spread the word of my invention, I hope it would help others as much as it would help me. However, don't act any different than you would act toward anyone else who would check a very minor item off of their bucket list.

That brings me to the clickbait bit. "Disabled person competes in sport, what happens next is heartwarming", no it's not, or it shouldn't be. If it is heartwarming at all, please ask yourself why. If it's heartwarming because the disabled person got to play, it's misguided. If it's heartwarming because out-of-the-ordinary things happened to flat-out let the disabled person make a play, it's misguided. If it brings about any thought that starts with "if they didn't give up...", then it's REALLY misguided. If it's a story of someone being "nice" to the PWD, it's probably grabbing attention for every wrong reason in the book.

You will find some disabled folks who intend to inspire people; by all means, let them inspire you, but don't believe for a second that that is a universal attitude. If I don't want to be patronized for trying to live my crippled life to the best of my ability, don't patronize me. To borrow from an old Nike ad, "I am not a role model." Also, yes, I use the word "crippled", don't tell me how to identify myself. To hammer the identity point home, suppose you offer to help me with something and I tell you once that I'm alright, I can see that you're just trying to help, but if you ask five times, you'll "self-identify" as "just trying to help", while I may identify you as an intrusive asshat. I may not want your help, but I won't tell you how to identify yourself, even if I identify you differently, please don't do that to me.

"Disabled man finishes writing blog post, inspires no one, and likes it that way"...I truly hope you're not inspired, but rather educated, and hopefully in agreement as well.