I was compiling my reference list for an essay the other day when I came across an article on my University library about epilepsy and Twitter. I instantly opened it up in another tab so I could read it once I’d finished my assignment. Unfortunately, I can’t link you all to it because you’d have to be a student at my University. In case you wanted to search for it online, the name of the article is: Epilepsy in the Twitter era: A need to re-tweet the way we think about seizures.
If you can’t find it, the basis of the article is looking at how people discuss seizures and epilepsy on Twitter. If you read a lot about disability or have one yourself, then you’re probably not surprised to learn that most people were pretty ableist about the whole thing. If that’s something you want to read more about, I can’t recommend this post Lara did more highly.
The study found that most people used the term ‘seizure’ in a metaphorical way, i.e. ‘my phone is having a seizure’. Even more worryingly, a lot of people used it as a joke—the example they used was this; ‘What do you do when someone’s having a seizure in the bath tub? Throw in a load of laundry’, which honestly makes me feel sick to my stomach. I could go on a long rant about how seizures, or any disability for that matter, is not a laughing matter. People do not choose to have seizures, and it’s disgusting that people think it’s okay to make that kind of joke. I would never wish a disability on anyone, but those are the kind of people I’d like to sit down and educate on disability and human decency.
The article got me thinking about social media and disability. They talked about stigmas and education. That led me to think about the type of language I’ve seen used on Twitter. To be honest, I don’t see disability a lot on my feed, at least not from people who aren’t advocates and academics on the subject I’ve followed. I’ve followed a lot of people who talk about diversity only to be seriously disappointed when they never mention disability as an area of that.
This is why I wanted to organise Disability Diaries. Social media is such a huge part of our lives nowadays, and in all honesty, I wanted to force people to think about disability (in a positive way) in our community. I’m not claiming this is the first or only event to do so—in fact, the first one that comes to mind is the incredible Shattering Stigmas event hosted by my fave, Inge, and a bunch of others. I’d hope there are more events that I’ve missed, but it saddens me that I have to wish for that. I would be totally okay with being bombarded constantly by disability advocacy on every social media platform.
I’m starting to wonder whether this post even has an argument or point to it, so I’m going to wrap it up with just a few recommendations for you all. If you’ve spoken to me about diversity at all, I’ve probably shared this with you, but if not—read this now.
Cee Arr’s Diversity Link List
Dina’s post about representation
Help Jolien compile a list of diverse books
Lara’s post about things to remember when talking with a person with a disability
Disability in KidLit’s entire website, but more specifically this post about language
And of course, sign up for Disability Diaries.
I think one of the best ways to get a conversation started on Twitter is to blog about disability and diversity, so if you ever write your own post on this subject, please tweet it to me so I can share it and discuss it with you.