Sunday, 19 March 2017

Aunty Social

Hello dear readers!

Today’s offering comes to you courtesy of Aunty Beeb and dear old social media.

I realise as I type that sentence that most of you, my dear readers, will have stumbled upon these poor scribblings using just such a channel, especially given my proclivity for, um, oversharing, perhaps just a tad.

But don’t blame Twitter or Facebook for ending up here, it’s really not their fault and hopefully you’ll appreciate what at least one of these giants of online life have added to what follows.

Time Online
I mention these two particular well known sites not because of any sense of loyalty or advocacy but because, at heart, I’m a bit of a Luddite. This paired with my advancing age means that my exposure to the digital world is somewhat limited. I have certainly never Snapchatted a Whatsapp on Tumblr.

I do spend a decent amount of time online these days though, not as much as some, (Tina Rankin, I’m looking at you) but a decent amount all the same, and it was whilst wasting half an hour on Facebook that I spotted a rather interesting video.

It’s a short little piece, part of a series run by BBC3, highlighting those in society that tend perhaps to wander from the path of ‘normality’ (A term I’m yet to find a fitting description of.) This particular video focuses on wheelchair users. I’ll leave it right here. Please do give it a quick watch and I’ll see you on the other side.

So, what do we think? Anything in there that surprises you? Anything that troubles you? Anything that makes you squirm just a little bit?

It Ends In Off
As a wheelchair user, I have encountered most if not all of the questions and sentiments featured in the video. I’ve not had the wedding scenario but as the only other wheelchair user at our wedding was one of my best men and someone infamous the length and breadth of my native Leeds, I can possibly guess why not.

I’ve not had the sex question either actually, at least not put quite so directly. I suppose this could be down to my virile good lucks and athletic physique (Shot-put counts as athletics, right?) Whatever it is I’m kind of glad I haven’t, because I’m not sure how to answer that question without an invitation to go forth and multiply.

As for the others, well as you can see from previous post, I have encountered, if not identical, then at least very similar situations for a lot of those (see here, here, and here for example).

As Stupid Does
Some I don’t mind so much. The “Have you got a licence?”, “don’t go speeding” type comments. I think they tend to get an airing when the person in question is just feeling awkward and doesn’t know what else to say. Not that that makes it OK you understand but I can sort of see why ‘they’ come out with it. “Don’t run me over!/Watch my toes!” Kind of makes me laugh because I hadn’t actually considered running your feet over… but I am now.

What else? Well I’ve had the exact taxi situation. Quite recently in fact (see here) and been denied entry to bars (one actually barred me when I argued against this which was quite ironic). I’ve had “can I have a go?” more times than I care to think about, including one time when the question was not asked but a ‘go’ was just had. My stock answer to that one is to ask for a ‘go’ on the questioners legs. That seems to make my point quite nicely. Oh and the ‘brave’ thing. Yeah, I’m not brave. Firefighters are brave, soldiers are brave, people who free climb skyscrapers are brave (stupid, but brave), Me? I don’t like heights, won’t go on roller-coasters and have what I consider a completely rational wariness of horses. The things people think are brave are really just living, coping, managing, and a bit more living. Getting drunk in a club requires no courage. Stupidity maybe, but no courage.

I’ll finish, if I may, by revisiting the subject of sex. Now I’m British so it is not a subject I broach lightly or without a measure of embarrassment. It does seem, however, like the presence of a wheelchair does away with this shyness for my fellow countrymen. I’m not sure why this is. Why someone having a disability opens the gates for people to ask extremely personal question they probably would never think of asking others in a month of Sundays. 

It seems the social boundaries that normally apply are negated by a the presence of a simple mechanical device designed to aid mobility. Maybe it’s some kind of magical aura or something, although I didn’t think the NHS stretched to that kind of thing, not these days anyway. Whatever it is, please, if you meet a wheelchair user, if your mind finds itself dwelling on that person’s intimate areas and the use thereof, if you find it becoming unbearable not to know the hows, whys and wherefores, then leave. Go home and have yourself a nice cold shower. Of course, if the mood is right and the person in question happens to find you attractive enough then the opportunity for some practical learning might present itself. Now that opens up some much better questions to ask.

Until next time