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Disability Bitch goes into cyberspasm

10th March 2011

• Disability Bitch is published every Thursday.
• The rest of the time, you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
DB at her computer
Readers, I'm a terribly famous high-powered columnist on a disability website and I used to think I knew why I was here doing this stuff. Well, let me tell you, it's been a confusing week for us crippled net denizens.

I read a very interesting article by Aleks Krotoski published at the weekend which posed the question What Effect Has The Internet Had On Disability?.

Well, let's take a look at this for a second: Do you follow @BrokenOfBritain on Twitter to contribute to your understanding of proposed disability benefit cuts? Do you do online supermarket shopping? Do you use video to talk to friends who are hard to visit? Do you look for forums full of people with your condition so you can discuss the drugs you're on? Do you fill in dozens of online job application forms? Do you find out about accessible software that will increase your productivity or enable you to read? These are just some of the things I know about in my daily internet life as a disabled person. How about you?
Broken of Britain website
It's fair to say I began to part company with the article when it started talking about there being no stairs on the internet. It then moves away from trying to answer the question it initially posed and goes on to be about the psychological freedom that people with spinal cord injuries feel when playing active computer games.

The author admittedly gives a self-depricating nod towards her unhelpful cyberspace obsession and mentions what academic disability research she'd like to read about, stating it hasn't yet been done. She goes nowhere near web access barriers for blind people and seems to bypass the fact that people with mental health difficulties are in fact far more visible than most on the social web sometimes; the opposite to real life where it's a 'hidden impairment'.

Disability is beautifully complexly diverse, isn't it? But are we really in such a different world that web commentators like the highly accomplished and fascinating Aleks Krotoski don't seem to know anything of the stuff we know?

Despite my reservations, I felt she put forward an interesting question and have been doing an equally fascinating parallel study for you. My unique research poses the question: What Effect Has The Internet Had on Ableness? I'm sure you're on tenterhooks for the results.
Smiling woman playing a switch-controlled computer game
Let's start with the basics: there are around fifty million non-disabled people in Britain and, readers, broadly speaking most of them have more privileged lives than you. I have to say, I do find the non-disabled totally intriguing. Imagine all that rampant ability coarsing through those perfectly formed veins.

I discovered that, while most Abled people have the capacity to move about the real world without restriction and can easily interact with other flesh and blood humans, life online provides them with endless opportunities to procrastinate, vegetate on the sofa, and spout absurd nonsense for hours at a time.

"I love the internet," said one participant. "Before social networking came along, I used to go out and have a life and work on my friendships, but now I sit at home on weekends and post comedy photographs of cats on my Facebook page.

"Sometimes, my virtual friends click the Like button and it makes me feel loved and wanted. I'm so much happier as a result."
Cats looking bemused
Another told me: "In winter I sit at home and surf the web, laughing at other people's dating profiles. I used to go out and flirt with musclemen in the gym, impressing them with my ability on the rowing machine, but there's no need for that overt display of able-bodiedness now. I just make sure my online profile has photographs of me looking slightly more attractive than I actually am and that my relationship status is flicked round to 'single'. I have to say, life's much easier this way."

The conclusion I've drawn is that the internet has turned the non-disabled into a populous of socially dysfunctional, lazy liars. Don't argue with me, it's all true. I've sent my study to Professor Stephen Hawking and I feel sure he'll write back within days to rubber-stamp the scientificness of my conclusions.

The non-disableds, they completely fascinate me. I'll be studying them again soon.

Facebook / Twitter

99% of disabled people who know I exist would say that the biggest advantage the internet has brought to their lives is the ability to 'follow' me. This week, my favourite disabled Baroness, Tanni Grey-Thompson, accused me of going soft when I queried her diet of cold curry and chips. I thought she was turning into one of us but according to her Twitter feed she did some exercise last night, so there's work to be done.

If, like Tanni, you feel compelled to join my burgeoning Twitter following, you can do so here. You can also become my Fan on Facebook, and let's face it, you don't have anything better to do.


    • 1. At 1:55pm on 10 Mar 2011, John Howard Norfolk wrote:

      Oh DB, you are having a rant aren't you? Sarcasm really doesn't suit you when on other occasions you have so many more interesting things to say.

      Complain about this comment

    • 2. At 8:20pm on 10 Mar 2011, Mummy Penguin wrote:

      Hey DB, I enjoyed the rant but am passing on the invitation to follow you on Twitter as it would be a public admission of the fact that I have nothing better to do.

      OOOPs just realised that posting this amounts to the same thing. LOL

      Complain about this comment

    • 3. At 8:56pm on 10 Mar 2011, MMMoff wrote:

      "Sarcasm doesn't suit you" Really? Don't think I know anyone better qualified to mickey take, or who does it half as well.

      You've nailed it here DB

      "Before social networking came along, I used to go out and have a life and work on my friendships, but now I sit at home on weekends and post comedy photographs of cats on my Facebook page" - Genius

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    • 4. At 9:02pm on 10 Mar 2011, MMMoff wrote:

      You've nailed it here DB...

      "Before social networking came along, I used to go out and have a life and work on my friendships, but now I sit at home on weekends and post comedy photographs of cats on my Facebook page" - Genius

      Please - I really hope you stop the sarcasm too. I don't read your blog for a great laugh and to brighten up my day thank you very much :o)

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    • 5. At 12:12pm on 18 Mar 2011, DavidG wrote:

      Wow, way for Aleks to miss the point of the Social Model! And this is someone I normally find very insightful, is disability really so difficult to understand?

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