Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wheelchair Paparazzi are My New LEAST Favorite Thing.

Let me preface this post by saying, I got explicit permission via text message from my friend, Annah, who it involves. The whole ordeal is something that enraged me,   made me audibly gasp and then made me fume Lewis Black style for about 15 minutes.  There is no time I wanna write more than when I am full of piss and vinegar! When I told her I wanted to blog about it, but felt it would be weird for her, she countered:
[Tangent: At a mere 18 years of age, she is already markedly more mature than I am at 31. I would have been crying and eating ice cream under a blanket while watching Trading Spaces to mellow out. That's where I was at that age.]

 OK, so now I am being completely awash in a sea of vague, so I will break it down for you. Recently my friend was the object of something very weird and kind of upsetting. While walking around town with her boyfriend, someone took this picture of her, her fella and her service dog and posted it to social media. [Tangent: Note I have cropped out his name because that really isn't important...I mean I am not here to blast anyone's character for one VERY misguided comment on Facebook. All that is important is that she doesn't know this person, and that it was brought to her attention by a third party.]

Immediately it brought to mind this blog post where another friend's family got turned into a meme without her knowledge. Only unlike that example where it was a professional photo stolen from a blog,  this is literally a through the bushes paparazzi-style operation. Also, that caption is THE WORST! [Tangent: And I am not just talking about the "ppl". That is fodder for another blog altogether. In the year 2014, do we not need vowels?!?!]

Sure,  I can understand where seeing Annah might bring a smile to one's face. I mean she is alarmingly intelligent,  she is always color coordinated, and somehow is in on an unleveled playing field when it comes to eyeshadow blending. However, none of those attributes are evident from this weird stalker-esque camera angle.  I mean, yeah, I could maybe in a very twisted way see that maybe this person saw Annah out and being bubbly and happy and it inspired their happiness, but that pipe dream gets completely plunged with that caption. Two words: LESS FORTUNATE. Blegh. I cannot even pretend that is OK.

Today I was talking to my boss about advocacy for the disabled and how I consider myself a "lazy advocate" like I don't want to be the know all, be all for wheelchair folks. [Tangent: THAT IS A LOT OF PRESSURE, GUYS! Also, a lot of the nitpicky stuff, I really don't care, because I choose my battles carefully. Example being, I said wheelchair folks and not folks in wheeelchairs.  I know that goes against people first language, which I usually abide by, but if I don't once in a while, I am not the antichrist. Pump your breaks.] In the words of the Different Strokes theme song, "The world don't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some..."  but I do know that these kind of shenanigans are not alright to anyone in a wheelchair that I know. And as Annah says, we should all be made conscious of their "not okay-ness."


  1. I can't even... I am seriously going to have to come back and post a better comment when I'm less angry and less in shock. It's just all wrong and I think it's mostly disturbing because it reveals what an ingrained cultural issue this is. Seeing "wheelchair folk" as so very "other" that they surely must exist only to inspire AND anyone spending time with them is doing so out of charity makes me fume. Also the secret photo taking just solidifies it. You take photos of animals at the zoo and clowns at the circus. Not fellow human beings out for a stroll. GAHHHHHH!!!!

    (Also, have you seen that video made by the guy with dwarfism? He has people snap pics and videos of him all the time when he's out and about. Apparently that's a thing. Blech.

  2. Oh YUCK. So they're implying that because she's in a wheelchair, that guy WHO IS HER FREAKING BOYFRIEND, is doing a good deed/favor by hanging out with her? Cuz she's "less fortunate?" Oh gag. This kind of stuff makes me angry. But good for her and you for spreading the awareness of the not-okayness of it all. I know I've got a whole new perspective on this stuff thanks to you and Mary. So the awareness is spreading! and the speaking out is commencing.

    Also can she do a tutorial on eyeshadow blending cuz I do NOT have that skill.

  3. CRazy, right? The real issue I have in the inferring that she has little to offer him...well except inspiration, I guess.
    I'm glad you are looking at things in a new light. That is kinda the purpose of this whole post.

  4. YES! I saw that video online a week or so ago. Very interesting. I am also a really big fan of Kevin Michael Connely. He was born without a lower body, and ambulates via skateboard. He's kind of a badass and had his own show on the travel channel for a hot minute. Anyway, he has done a whole photo exhibit of people staring at him. It's pretty interesting.

  5. It's so dehumanizing. And yes, thank god for the world of blogs. Teaching me stuff and connecting me to awesome folks I need to know since... idk... forever?

  6. Yall people are so goofy. If she told to fuckinf truth she would have told yo ass the he was out side in the yard. Then a mf try to say that he love seeing shit like that. In our town its lot of individuals that is like that. That bitch wasnt bubbly and her dude look like he didnt wanna do his job. Fuck outta here with this bullshit. That was not a fucking meme. Know the difference. Mfs cant be nice about shit with out people getting touched. Im tired with all yall people saying something the negro does something. His intentiond were good bitch you didnt have to tell yo damn homeboy to write anything. You could inbox him and told him how you feel and he would have takin it down. But now white folks alway gotra make shit that aint bullshit some bullshit. You people kill me. Literally. We juat cant do shit right huh? I had to say something cuz just like your friends, his friends got affended by this shit. Two wrongs dont make a right

  7. And I personally didnt care about the damn wheelchair. It was a nice . Damn smh

  8. Personally I don't think he meant any harm...He was admiring love and knowing regardless of anyone's situation there is no limit to love...maybe he used bad choice words but posting a blog to twist words is just as bad to slander someones character isn't the best way to go either...kind of like of like two wrongs don't make a right...just because a male and a female are seen together doesn't make them girlfriend and are now famous as well...if you didn't want his name known as you stated in the blog you would have never allowed this link to get to his page and say He as famous...

  9. The power of the Internet is crazy. Once posted, I have no control over who can share my blog etc.

  10. Stephan Tookthatshyttotrial ThAugust 31, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Hey im the famous guy that was blasted on this blog my name IS STEPHAN THOMAS.. Im soo sorry individuals took offense to the missunderstood pic and caption presented one of the worlds leading social site FACEBOOK... I do get the point(s) mabe i shouldnt have took the picture without the young ladies permission and i see how her and you may have been offended by me using the words LESS FORTUNATE.. I do apologize.. BUT!! With good intention i made the post in the up most spirit of humanity because i admired the MANY expressionS of LOVE In that single photo and as u can see in this "ARTICLE" acknowledged but minimized it. And Instead of approaching me with your concern and disqust personally, via social site obviouslly fb.. I was Led to this Blog or "Article"... Ive notice that people want to change our society in every way other than going directly to those who in society that causes the concern.. Instead they hide behind media cowardly with various rants seeking peoples approval.. Instead be a foot soldier For your cause, get out and discuss your views personally.. Its sad that in a way your kind of inciting the very same exploitation your against.. I feel in your heart you want to be the upmost good human being you can be but where u fail at is getting a understanding of the issues that your addressing.. U unknowingly effected me just like i unknowingly effected the young lady.. Perfect your craft you can be great at wat u do and ill continue to perfect myself and become a better person today then i was yester day.. I hope u and your viewers can somewhat. Understand that all people arent bad we just have a different way of expressing the good in us because "UNFORTUNATELY " most of us dont...

  11. Understandable....but in efforts to exploit the situation at hand exploit all details of the story sweetie...If you felt the internet was crazy you would have never posted the blog publicly you would have simply addressed the issue at hand via message to have a clear understanding :)

  12. Thanks for posting. I tried to be very diplomatic and I am sorry if you took it as less than. This post was simply my opinion and perspective. Like a counterpoint to your point. Because I didn't reveal any personal details about you (your town name sex etc), I didn't feel the need to request your permission. If you were at all encountered by anyone on a personal level, it must be because they were aware of this incident via someone other than myself...because you can have my word that I didn't share your identity with anyone. I am a blogger, not a journalist. I am a woman with a disability and this incident hit close to home to me, hence why I felt moved to write about it. Because I have been on the recieving end of such comments before and my feelings were hurt. I am not a bully. If I were, I would have name-called or called you out. I didn't because I knew your heart was in the right place.

  13. If indeed you knew or thought his heart was in the right place you would have took this blog in a total different direction...verses letting people think his intentions were to as Molly said dehumanize someone...Good people are in the world...everyone doesn't feed off of others flaws...imperfections...color...gender...disability...maybe the blog could have just enlightened on how words are this case your blog was twisted and hurtful in the same light as his incorrect caption...I'm glad you posted the blog because it shows that some people will take any little small thing and paint a picture of a complete monster...when in reality that was not what this picture was about...I understand it's your blog to voice how you feel...

  14. Thanks so much for being kind and clear in your communications. I think that is very important. In an attempt to avoid calling the person out, I removed any details that would put them in a weird place. No name. No city. Etc etc etc. I wanted it to be an example of a problem that is bigger than the person themselves. This has happened to me, and others too. It is always usually innocent, but inadvertently hurtful to the person it affects. I promise, I was not trying to cause pain to your friend hence why I never made mention of any particulars because I wanted it to be an example of something that happens all too often. I didn't want to attack him personally and like I said, if anyone knew his name or information, it was certainly not from me...because I am very discreet when I write.

  15. Once again, I cannot control how people feel or take things or the comments the make or how they feel. Is there a certain part that you can specify you think was twisted or hurtful? I really don't think I can make someone a monster, especially if I am giving no specifics about that person, but again I am so sorry you were hurt in any way by this. I think we will just have to agree to disagree. Thanks for your comments.

    This incident was intended to be evocative of a larger scale issue of unfair assumptions about disabled people, even well-meaning ones. It feels like crap to be called less-fortunate. That was the gist of this blog post.

  16. That
    reminds me of the time someone stopped Draea and her friend at the mall
    and thanked her friend for taking time to hang out with someone in a
    wheelchair like it was charity work. Remember that? Once I was on
    campus with Erica and Courtney and some idiot frat guy stopped in front
    of us on the sidewalk to take a picture. I just wondered who raises
    someone to think something like that is okay. And then to act indignant
    on top of that?! I can't!

  17. The fact that he didn't mean any harm is exactly the point here. In a broader sense, this isn't a post about the girl in the wheelchair or the person who snapped the photo-- it's a helpful example for people who are are still learning to look at disability differently. The situation and people involved matter far less than the overarching issue that I believe this blogger is trying to highlight: people with disabilities often fall prey to false assumptions and hurtful comments in the name of "inspiration" and "good intentions." This story is helpful for people who struggle to understand this topic.


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