It Really Is Not Okay
What’s the best way to deal with negative experiences you’ve had with individuals? Well if you ask someone today it is to insult and shit on a group of people you blame for those issues. Most people realize this could be confused with racism or Anti-Semitism, but we live in odd times. #AbledsAreWeird is a trending topic on twitter, and folks have mixed feelings on it. I had 0 feelings until reading 500 or so tweets and now I’m very annoyed and quite pissed off at it all.
These are my own thoughts and not the thoughts or opinions of anyone else who writes on the blog.
This is a opinion post and there is a difference between an opinion post and a review.
This post may offend you, but I can assure you some of the things being said are to prove a point, they are not my actual feelings. This will make more sense as you read on.
A Summary of #AbledsAreWeird
I don’t know who started it, and quite frankly I don’t care. #AbledsAreWeird is a hashtag which has picked up steam on Twitter over the past day or so. The intention of it is for those with disabilities to share their bad experiences with people who don’t have disabilities. It is all hiding under the guise of letting people know what it is like to live with a disability and how they are treated with the hope of fixing that. We all know the best way to fix the problem is to treat everyone as a homogeneous group which all acts, feels, and thinks the same.
Now that’s been explained let’s get into the meat of the blog post.
As I read through these #AbledsAreWeird posts I did notice some of them were bad, eyebrow raising bad things that would annoy anyone if it happened to them. I also realized a lot of them were just people complaining about things and blaming everyone who wasn’t disabled for it. This is 100% of the issue in my mind, who is being blamed for these bad experiences. All of these complaints and problems being tweeted about are coming from experiences with individuals, singular, a person. It might happen 10 times with 10 different people, but still each one of those are an individual, a person, singular.
This is ignoring all the tweets I read where I went yeah you messed up there, this happened because you didn’t do what you should of before it got this far. I’m setting those aside and focusing on who is being blamed. If you just look at the name of the hashtag, #AbledsAreWeird. Does anyone see anything wrong with that? If so please let me know in the comments. I’m going to run everyone through some situations below and maybe everyone can come to the same conclusion.
Someone had their bike stolen by a Hispanic person when they were 12. Thousands of other people had the same experience or one similar. Everyone who had similar experiences starts tweeting #HispanicsAreWeird. This is how racism starts, you have a bad experience with 1 person and conflate that into believing everyone who is Hispanic is the same.
You live next to a family of black folks who run a crack house. You hate living next to them because of the drugs. You have terrible experiences weekly with the people there. You start to do the same conflation and think every black person is a drug addict and give everyone with that skin color the same attributes as the individuals you deal with personally. Again this is racism plain and simple.
You are blind or in a wheel chair and have bad experiences with people doing or saying things. You then blame everyone who isn’t disabled instead of the individual or individuals who actually did something wrong. It isn’t a race of people, instead it is everyone not like you. This is just as bad as racism, only there isn’t a race being targeted, instead it is everyone not like you.
This is the true definition of social justice. It is not individual justice against the one doing something wrong, instead it is an attempt to get justice against the entire group that individual belongs to. This is nothing new in the world we live in, it is just closer to home for a lot of people. I realized this right away, and this is what upset me about the entire #AbledsAreWeird trend. Everyone is blaming a group of millions and millions of people instead of the individuals who actually did what they did. If this was BlacksAreWeird, JewsAreWeird, or HispanicsAreWeird everyone would be 100% against it and those who weren’t would be shunned and called out. We are seeing the opposite happen here though, those who come out against it are being told they are part of the problem. NO, the problem is prejudging an entire group of people because of the experiences you have had with a small number of individuals.
It is easy to see why something like this can happen with everyone piling on. Our brains have a built in Negativity Bias which allows us to remember bad things much more clearly than good. When someone does something bad you don’t think of the hundreds or thousands of people who didn’t do that thing, but who also had the chance to. If you ask someone for help and they grab you to push you where you need to go that sticks in your memory. What the brain doesn’t remember as vividly is the times you asked for directions and someone just told you. This is simply how our brains work. It helps me understand how, but it doesn’t excuse the hashtag or the behavior and what this has turned into.
Disabled people have had bad things and bad experiences with people who aren’t disabled. I’m not excusing the individuals who caused the bad experiences. There are bad things that happen, no one is arguing that. At the same time over half of what people are saying with the #AbledsAreWeird hashtag is petty and annoying. Most of it could be fixed with a sentence or with letting people know something ahead of time.
What is not okay is the hashtag and blaming everyone who is not disabled for what an individual does. Blind people deal with this all the damn time but when the tables are turned they can’t wait to jump on the bandwagon. Everyone here has had to deal with someone’s preconceived notions about them based on that person’s experiences with another blind person. They are using their experience with 1 and applying it to everyone else who is blind. That’s not okay, and it isn’t okay to do it to them either. If someone was to grab my cane and try and lead me somewhere I’d think that person is a fucking idiot and I’d correct them. I wouldn’t then assume every other sighted person was the same because my brain doesn’t work like that. Blame who needs to be blamed, the individual, not only with this but with everything. The one who does something wrong is at fault, no one else.
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2 Replies to “Twitter Outrage ep496: #AbledsAreWeird”
Also, Look up the hate spiral
Totally agree with you here, Smoke. Originally I was pretty neutral about it, because while I understood the actual intent behind the hashtag (as poorly executed (or at least badly named) as it was), the criticisms about hypocrisy, causing outrage, and others were legitimate. When I stood up for these criticisms as a part of sharing my neutrality (I also stood up for the intent of the hashtag), one side of the debate decided to attack me, telling me that I was aiding the oppressors, ableist, or at least brainwashed. When I said that the hashtag was dividing our community instead of uniting it, I was told that those who disagreed should remain silent because if we don’t stand unified, we hurt ourselves. No, we’re allowed to have differences of opinion. Of course we are!
I’ve had my share of negative experiences with non-disabled people (able-bodied people) as well. We all have. And yes, there’s this broad issue with a lack of respect of our boundaries. I get that. And while there’s an off-chance someone might see what not to do and realize they need to not make that mistake, being called weird is almost always an insult. Why would I ever want to insult someone I’m trying to educate?
My personal problem with it is also identifying people only by their disability or lack of one. I don’t know any “ableds.” I don’t know any “disableds” either. I’m no stickler on person first or disability identity language, I don’t care if you call me a disabled person or a person with a disability. But please call me a person and don’t let my disability be the only thing that defines me (or someone else’s lack of one). Calling someone “an abled” or “a disabled” is highly offensive to a lot of (yeah, that’s right) people. We’re people too.
So while I started out neutral, being silenced for standing up for other disabled people and their concerns pushed me far to the other side. I still get the intent, but I want absolutely nothing to do with either the hashtag or those who support it, to the detriment of others in the community. I’m not going to try to silence them, but they sure as hell shouldn’t be trying to silence me.