And I'm not sorry.
You see, here's the story. Last night (this morning) about 3am when I finally had wrapped up my really-procrastinated Child Psychopathology paper on using Specific Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors to treat Trichotillomania in children (say it 3 times fast), I hopped in bed began my nightly ritual of scrolling through Facebook and Instagram before falling asleep. And then boom.
|Sorry my phone cut off the entire image, it reads: "Tag a friend that's into midget threesomes."|
Of course I was immediately angry. Why does this picture even exist in the first place, and why in the hell is it on MY newsfeed? I've wasted way too many hours on social media to think that this was a mistake. You see, things only show up in your Facebook newsfeed when they have been posted, liked, or commented on by one of your own friends. Awesome.
For the sake of this rant, I've kindly hidden the identity of this "friend," but I will tell you that it is someone who attends Augustana and though we have probably never spoken to each other in person, we somehow ended up connected on Facebook. I knew that since I wasn't truly friends with him, it wouldn't be easy to just shoot him a simple text and say something like, "Hey, you know I don't like that shit, so can you please reconsider your post?" Honestly, I've had friends who have innocently posted things that are mildly offensive to certain communities. When that happens, I'm not afraid to reach out, mention the issue, and help them correct it, because I know that they would do the same for me. We're all learning, and it's ok.
However, I didn't feel comfortable messaging this guy. And I truly wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. While I can almost guarantee that he did not share this post because he truly thinks those girls are beautiful, I figured he maybe forgot that he was "friends" with someone who would find this offensive. So I decided to comment on the photo, "...how about no?" My hope was that the comment would spark his attention and he would realize his mistake and remove the post.
But that's not what happened.
Instead, my "friend" saw my comment, deleted it, and kept the photo posted.
*insert many, many fire emojis here*
Not only did this guy's actions really, really piss me off, but he caught me at a really bad time as well. For the last 10 weeks, I have been extensively researching negative perceptions of people with disabilities for my senior capstone project. While the research has been truly eye-opening, it cuts to the heart every. single. time. I work on it. I will be presenting my entire project on Tuesday, and needless to say, this past week has been a hot mess of stress, little sleep, and crappy food. It was not the time to make me mad.
So I messaged him.
Could I have been a little nicer? Maybe.
But I'm satisfied with what I said, and I'll sleep just fine tonight.
I know you're waiting for it.. so here's his response.
A couple of things I want to point out in his response:
1. "Accidentally" sharing something on Facebook is difficult. I tested it out. You have to first click "share" and then also choose who you want to share it with. I'm having a difficult time believing he's talented enough to "accidentally" press two consecutive, correct buttons.. but whatever.
2. I don't think there's a rule for how well you have to know someone before you can share your opinion. If there is a rule, I've definitely broken it on more occasions than just this one, so I really suck at being a decent person, for which I am very sorry.
3. He says that private messaging him about this situation "irked" him. Would he rather I have publicly posted my message to his wall? Ok. From my experience, privately messaging someone about something that is offensive or controversial always, always works better. Who wants to be embarrassed in front of other people when they innocently posted something that they didn't mean to? Apparently this kid.
4. The way he ended his message is the number 1 greatest example of why ABLEISM IS A VERY REAL AND RAW ISSUE IN TODAY'S SOCIETY. I'm literally printing it out and pasting it on my poster for Tuesday.
I was wrong.
I upset him.
I am the crazy one.
I, the person with the disability, should not have addressed this issue, because he "didn't attempt to hurt anyone."
And you know what? For a couple minutes, I fucking believed it.
I sat at work and read and read and reread our messages until I regretted sending them in the first place. I felt like I over reacted. Maybe he truly was innocent, and I crossed the line.
And then I called my best friend. Because if anyone can be honest and call me on my shit, it's her. I knew that she wouldn't automatically side with me and would consider all perspectives before giving me advice.
But after about 12.5 seconds into the conversation, she had plans to light poop on fire on this guy's doorstep.
But on a more serious note, this is the very real problem that the disabled community faces. Though we experience significant oppression and discrimination for our differences, hardly anyone can speak up and fight against it because as soon as someone does, they're shit on by people who don't think they're qualified enough to complain about it!
Though my confidence is still wavering, I now know that:
He was wrong.
His actions were upsetting.
He does not live with a disability, and therefore cannot say that his actions were not offensive towards people with disabilities.
SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK, PLEASE.
Even after researching for a 30+ page document and experiencing 21 years of life with a disability, I still have no clue what it will take for people to get it. The disabled community is and always will be one of the last groups to gain understanding and empathy from the rest of the world, because it just might make others uncomfortable, and we wouldn't want anyone to experience that.