So desperate was she to live a life of state subsidised ease that Kaliya actually altered her own DNA, making her connective tissue so lax that she can dislocate body parts she can’t even name. Using the nom de plume Bendy Girl, she blogs at Benefit Scrounging Scum about the reality of life lived as the kind of benefit claimant the tabloid press doesn’t know exists.
Face to Facebook
12th May 2009
Like many bendy people, my diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome came later in life, before which I was classed as an attention seeker, not disabled. As she didn't mention my wheelchair, I assumed my friend must be that rare and wonderful creature who accepts others without question. Until I got home, logged in to my Facebook account and saw the message she'd sent wanting to know about my disability. It seems she was more curious than accepting, but couldn't bring herself to ask me in person.
The way in which Facebook lets you keep all your pals in one place makes your social life easy to manage. But for many people, Facebook's biggest attraction is the ease in which friends who've lost contact can rediscover each other. That may seem great, but if you have acquired your disabilities or become disabled later in life, it can mean you find yourself having to explain your situation more frequently.
Online, you can choose to keep disability secret, but if you keep schtum you have to remember to edit out all disability stuff from future conversations, which can lead to a total re-working of your life. But if you choose to be 'out' with your rediscovered pal, a painful full-blown conversation needs to happen. They knew you of old, and they feel they have a right to ask for a full list of events that turned you into the new you.
When I'm going through a bad patch, it can really help to be able to use sites like Facebook to escape into an online virtual world. While there, these very personal questions about my disability can feel like a huge burden. The responsibility of having to spare other people's feelings and provide the reassurance they need to hear is too much when I want to just scream, "No there is no cure, treatment or exorcism. It is what it is and if you can't handle that, it's your problem!"
But perhaps this is a way of making disability more acceptable. First via online discussions, then leaking into proper offline life. So in 15 years from now, no disabled person will be able to recognise the 'Facebook feeling' because we'll all be a bigger part of the landscape and less remarkable.
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