My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Dec 20

Changing tropes

Category: Life,Opinions

Here’s my problem with the “Technology Made Me a Real Boy!” trope.

Society pretty much sees us as lamps, expectations for the disabled are REALLY low. We’re not automatically expected to go off to school, get straight A’s, fall in love, get married, everything that was totally automatically expected of my brother. I was never told I COULDN’T do these things, but I was never pushed toward them, plans were never made, nothing was expected.. The first time I told my mom, “I met this girl online, I have a date tonight,” she had no NO IDEA what to say, or do, or even think. I just went and she didn’t try to stop me. The lack of expectation never bothered me, it actually pushed me, but it definitely bothers many.

I had this one disabled friend, Stuart, his family sheltered and coddled him, told him he could do ANYTHING, just like anyone else. He had a closet full of tennis shoes, just so he could look “normal.” The problem was, he was so sheltered, and protected, and told “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, YOU’RE NORMAL!” that when he ran into a normal road-block, when he couldn’t ride the rides on a field-trip to Busch Gardens, or when it finally got too hard to hold a pencil, he’d lose it. He felt how not normal he was perceived by society. It wasn’t, “Maybe a few of these rides should be accessible” or “Maybe technology could just replace my pencil,” it was, “Oh God, I am so not normal!” In general, to his middle-school teachers and peers, he was just the “disabled kid,” and in turn, that’s all he was to himself until he got the flu that killed him.

So, we have two problems. Society expects nothing from the disabled, and the disabled feel inherently less than, and when parents over-compensate, that feeling of being less than only comes on harder, because after all, nobody with SMA will ever drive a car.

I don’t like the low expectations, on both levels.

I want to see society shift toward, “Sure, you’re different, but that only means you’ll need technology, you’ll need personal assistants to have the same experiences as anybody else. You’ll have the experiences, you’ll just get there differently. You’re not a lamp.”

I don’t want to see disabled people saying, “I felt like a lamp, I was absolutely nothing until I got X device. Thank you! Thank you for making me a real person.”

The trope should be, “People often treated me like a lamp, people who never took the time to try to communicate with me. I was seen as furniture, but I’m not, I just had all these thoughts, feelings, that had no easy way out of my head. Now that I have X device, people can see the me in my head, who I really am. Thank you for giving me a better way to communicate, a way to show what’s always been behind my eyes.”

Do you see the difference? “Technology empowered me,” rather than, “I was broken until technology fixed me.” People with disabilities should NEVER FEEL less than, we should insist on having the tools we need to show the world who we really are, human beings, not lamps, or broken dolls.

3 Comments so far

  1. Tim December 20th, 2012 1:43 am

    Fuck yeah

  2. Shinseiko December 20th, 2012 8:49 am

    Amazing post. It is a fearful thing to be trapped inside one’s own mind with no way out.

  3. Ross January 1st, 2013 5:56 pm

    Tis is incredibly insightful and thought provoking. I needed this lesson as the father of a son who is deaf and has a cochlear implant. Thank you for the effort you put into posting your thoughts.