I’m not an #Ableist but…

It’s time I quite literally wheeled Stella out again. The world needs a replacement for the blunt but very funny woman she was. This is the woman who got drunk, fell out of her chair & broke her wrist. No regrets aside from spilling her wine.

Anyway, this evening Facebook and I clashed. Ok, not actually Facebook,  but someone posting on it. I usually just roll my eyes and move on, but sometimes I forget that this is the internet and try to explain to people why their words might be misconstrued as offensive, or why in fact they are being a dickhead. In fact, to save you reading further: TLDR; don’t be a dickhead.

However, for the more literary…

Just a quick reminder of standards for talking to, about, or around those with disabilities  (and like ninjas, you won’t always be aware of our presence):

– The “at least you’re not that person” style of motivation speech is not well received when done in front of that person. That speech is best described as a clusterfuck.

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– we are wheelchair users. Not wheelchair bound. Not in public anyway… don’t Google it. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.

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– on a similar note, I can call me a cripple as can my disabled friends. It’s our word.  Only a ginger can call another ginger ginger?

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– if I call you out for being ableist and you are not disabled, you don’t get to tell me that all disabled people would agree with you. Because one just didn’t. That’s not activism, that’s maths. Let’s be honest, If I call you out on it, I’m probably going to be nicer about it than half of Twitter. I won’t even c bomb you the first time ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Now watch Stella. Go on. Off you go.

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Dear Friends Inside My Phone,

There was a campaign some time ago to ‘look up’. This encouraged people to stop staring at their phones and look around them. I like this idea. I love the idea of just being in the moment as my kids run through piles of autumn leaves as I ignore my batphone. But let me show you the reality of today.

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Dysautonomia is telling me to chill the hell out today. I woke up at 6.30am with every intention of having a normal day & heading off for work, but it had other plans and whacked my internal temperature up (or rather told me I was boiling when my actual temperature was fine), and made my head spin. I lasted less than 20 minutes of sweating, palpitations and tunnel vision before I gave up and went back to bed before I barfed on everyone.

Mr Geek set a desk fan up to help me “cool down” and I slept off the weirdness. Eventually, I woke up at lunchtime, shivery because now I’m cold (wtf?) & the blinds are still closed because muting everything keeps this lovely spinning headache at tolerable levels.

This old man is channelling my energy levels today & keeping me company instead of his usual harassing of Mr Geek in his office. (Cuddles are demanded which is great whilst on an important Skype call).

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“The phone can’t be helping”. Not normally no, but a fellow blogger showed me a brilliant android app called Twilight which puts this red overlay on the screen. This can be constant for times like this when my head hurts, or you can set it to work with your local sunset & sunrise times to stop the blue light from your phone interfering with sleep patterns.

And herein lies the thing. Not being able to be a social butterfly due to a lack of spoons (and inclination), the friends on my phone are part of an intricate support network that retains a fair amount of my sanity. This is a thank you to them.

When I have down days, they send me messages letting me know I’m not on my own & they utterly get why I’m venting on my blog. They join in with me laughing at myself. They let me know that my frustrated rants made them laugh.

Just today, I’ve been able to reach out to onlinr support groups without moving from my bed to worry about this latest dysautonomia flare, and be totally reassured that it’s just me overdoing things. Just from that, I feel less panicked and validated for not pushing through and getting Mr Geek to drive me to work.

Some people I’ve never met & yet know some of the most personal parts of their lives, and vice versa.

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Others I’ve known for years, but the portal of communication has allowed us to go from that person I know of to friends.

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Sometimes people just pop on and let me know I’m not on my own.

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Others I’ve met online many years ago through gaming & then in person & then am really sad that they live so far away. Basically because I miss them.

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Then there’s Mrs Gypsytree who now lives a million miles away and yet I still get to talk to her every day because of this little screen in front of me.

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It’s not all blogging. Facebook groups have enabled me to meet real life people locally who are going through the same crap & share a common interest in cake despite it wrecking our systems.

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Then there’s the occasional tweet or like from someone online that makes everything go squeee!

Like someone liking my blog when it’s about them ๐Ÿ™‚

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Or when TinyPants drew a get well card to a blogger in Canada when she had surgery & I found out that she saw it ๐Ÿ™‚

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Or when Catherine Russell (Serena in Holly city) liked a tweet ๐Ÿ™‚

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You see? The intended purpose of the internet was to share ideas widely and without boarders. It’s now far more than that, and yes there are things happening in the real world, and yes there are some awful things online, but there are also some amazing support networks that people don’t get to see.

So next time you see someone apparently ignoring the world and smiling at their phones,ย  don’t assume it’s just a funny cat, it could just be the human contact that they needed.

When you fight monsters, you must be careful not to become one : talking about Anonymous in the classroom

When students pop up with the trademark of Anonymous on their desktops, I start to wonder whether it’s time to have a real discussion about it.

I’ve just sat and watched the BBC Storyville program about the group and was determined not to approach it with any pre-conceived ideas. Except I did if I’m totally honest. I see myself as an Internet savvy individual and someone who generally knows their stuff having worked and studied computer science and IT related areas for years. But, I am someone who has only come across Anonymous from the negative standpoint, and certainly whilst I find a certain amount of 4Chan amusing, they regularly push my envelope of decency over the table and into a puddle of dank water.

So why am I back to considering discussing the role of Anonymous with my students again? Because this program made me stop and think. Really think about the movement and why this might appeal to the younger generation and what this may mean for them.

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Is this now something that we ought to be discussing as part of PSHE? Not whether they should take part or not – that is a whole other discussion – but the history of the movement, and some of the lessons which can be learnt from what happens when people act as a group to oppose something that is perceived to be immoral. I am aware that there is no way I could show my students the actual program (the language used was enough to make even me raise an eyebrow), but it raised so many discussion points and the involvement of the movement in the recent Arab Spring to provide a means of communication just hasn’t been reported. Why is that?

It’s almost a lesson in the effect that the media has on our impression of groups in itself. I still can’t morally accept that a DNS attack is acceptable on a personal level, and the jump between memes and activism seems a very big jump (although humour is a good way to propagate an idea), but I can see why people who have strong beliefs would want to use the Internet to create a space for protest. In a way, that’s what I’m doing here – I’ve created a little bit of the Internet for my own thoughts, uncensored and laid bare for whoever happens to see them.

The title of this post is actually a quote from one of the ‘hacktivists’ when debating where Anonymous will go next. The offshoots of the group have created some seriously bad press for them in the media (especially in the UK), and the feelings linked with the group are often uneasiness with a group that attacks people when in fact it seems that the soul of the group is actually promoting free speech whatever your opinion may be.

This is not a new phenomenon.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. – Voltaire [Franรงois Marie Arouet] (1694โ€“1778)

For now, I think I need some time to mull over the questions popping up all over the place and work out a way to integrate a balanced discussion into the classroom. Is that possible? I don’t know.