Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Deja Moi

A conversation Joe and I had yesterday:

Dave: Hey, guess what, apparently I'm mythic.

Joe: What do you mean ... like of mythic proportions?

Ha. Ha. Ha. Funny man.

I was telling him of discovering the fact that there is a rumour on the Internet that I am not a real person. Yep, that's right, there are those saying that this blog and my Facebook page were set up to create a fake person named "Dave Hingsburger." I read a conversation of comments wherein one person was setting forth the idea that I'm not real and other stating with equal fervour that I was indeed real. How odd that was to read. I left a comment assuring them that I was a real person, but then that's what a fake person would have done too, right. How do you win that argument.

I guess the first thing I thought about was the fact that I should be kind of flattered that enough people know me that there would be enough interest to create the energy for people to talk about me at all. Cool, I guess.

Second, though, was the somehow deeply disconcerting feeling that this generated. Someone declaring that I did not exist as a real person was disconcerting because it was a deeply deja vu experience.

Like how I disappeared as a person when I sat down in my wheelchair and suddenly didn't exist to wait staff and store clerks.

Like how I suddenly didn't exist as a person who could take care of my own luggage at the airport.

Like how I was discounted as a social equal in a thousand different interactions.

People with disabilities are always in the position of saying "YOOOO HOOOO, I'm here, I'm real, I matter." So this seemed to be just an extreme example of the same thing.

So, again ... the mantra of people with disabilities the world over ...

I'm here. I'm real. I matter.


Jayne Wales said...

Omg. How incredibly weird. I can see what you are saying about being invisible to others now but to have a debate about whether you actually exist or not. I mean that's a bit like Jesus, with no offence to the religious folk. It really takes you up into the realms of very very important because that's the only time existence is discussed.
So I would take good heart from that because you do exist and you are obviously making some people very nervous and some people very safe. That I would say is a compliment but again how very strange that must feel.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I can put your mind at rest, you are real! I was in the audience of a great lecture you gave in Oxford, England, a few years ago.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Thank you Anon, I remember that lecture, I was chuffed that I was speaking in Oxford ... something I never thought I'd do.

Susan said...

Wow! The first half of this post had me laughing out loud - all alone in my living room with my laptop on my lap. "No such thing as Dave Hingsburger"??? The guy who fills the room with his presence? HAHAHAhahaha.

The second half made me sad... I have had an opportunity this week to "get it" like never before. I have been on crutches for a few days and it's been so interesting to see {{some}} people's reactions. Either they pretend you're not there, or they rush in all in an attention-attracting flurry to help you (whether you want it or need it or not) or worst of all, they just s-t-a-r-e.

One example: Coming out of the doctor's office yesterday, a kid was twirling and playing on the floor in the foyer, his mother close by and watching his every move. As I approached I expected he would twirl out of my way, but instead, he very deliberately twirled over right into my path and then stopped right there and stared up at me. It's not easy to turn on crutches, and twisting causes pain. I glanced in his mother's direction for help, but to no avail. She was too busy smiling sweetly at him as if he was doing some kind of a good deed. She didn't seem to have a clue... I was forced to stop.(On crutches you want to keep up your momemntum if you can). He started to back up and out of my way and kept right on staring as he moved slowly out of the way. As I started up again and I was almost, ALMOST(!) safely past, he started twirling again and right directly and deliberately back into my path -only closer this time! (He was trying to get a really close look.) I almost went arse over tea kettle and could easily have landed right on him. And his mother still sat there, glazed look on her face, half a smile at her little darling, and just watched... Hard to believe, but you have these kinds of experiences ALL THE TIME. I have thought of you often... :)

But this is "not about me".

No Dave Hingsburger? Discounting your existence and thereby stamping out your very identity? I can't imagine... that's the worst mistreatment of all...

I hope you wear your yellow shirt today.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Hey Susan, what happened ... are you OK? I don't think that someone was purposely erasing me, they just believe that 'Dave Hingsburger' is a made up person.

Sher said...

One would only have to hear your "I have SH#T in my teeth" story to know you're a very real person with very real insights to share. That story has stayed with me since the first time I had the privilege of hearing what you have to say. Your start in this field may not have been a glamorous one, but I am thankful that you chose this work to do in spite of your rocky start. Dave, you have changed how I do my work and I am thankful that you are a very real person who puts himself out there for others to benefit. Your contribution to the work we do is invaluable. You most definitely exist.

Andrea S. said...

Hey, Dave,
I believe you're real! *waves*

Susan, I have had some experience in the past with being on crutches too. Do you get the people in crowds who THINK they are moving out of your way, except that they aren't actually doing so because they only move a couple of inches which isn't nearly enough of a path to allow you to move through? (Since on crutches you can't really move sideways ... at least not very safely, or at least I couldn't. So you do need a path as wide as your hips PLUS extra space to each side for the crutches ... am explaining for readers who haven't experienced using crutches and thus haven't thought about it before). Then they look at you really confused and maybe also annoyed when you continue to say, "excuse me, can you move some more"? Because they honestly don't see the problem? Those people drove me up the wall.

Utter Randomness said...

Dave: Being invisible sucks. I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I can't even imagine how weird it must have been for you to come across people arguing about the fact of your very existence. How could someone so vibrant be fake? Also, people interact with you in real life! Is he saying they're all lying? So weird.

Susan and Andrea, man do I have some stories about using crutches. People slamming doors in my face rather than holding them, people stepping out in front of me, people laughing while I try to talk the driver into lowering the bus, but I have two that take the cake. The first is more of a collective of experiences rather than a single event. Have you ever noticed that when you say "excuse me" no one moves their feet? It's their feet that are in the way! The second was a single incident with a professor I encountered during my undergrad. I had the misfortune of injuring my leg 2 days before the beginning of the winter semester. I didn't realize that my class was in a building without an elevator and I ended up requesting that the class be moved to an accessible room. The prof wasn't happy about the move for some reason (though why someone would be unhappy about not having to climb 4 flights of stairs every class escapes me) and he made a comment in the next class about how he hoped that everyone found the new room and that he was sorry about the switch, but that it had to happen for a wheelchair who didn't even bother to show up today. The best part: I'd just sat down from crutching up to him, explaining why I wasn't in the first lecture and asking for a syllabus, and then crutching back to my seat. Ugh.

Mike said...

Very strange stuff. It must be a stage of gaining fame when people actually insist at some point that you don't exist. On the other hand, your point about invisibility is well-taken. You could turn this moment into a short story, no problem.

Anonymous said...


we never met in "real life" (but still hope someday we will) but for me you are absolutly real.


Moose said...

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

I hate to say it, but I understand how this happens.

There are lots of tales of fake people out there.

It's not unlike the recent case of the sports figure and the girlfriend who turned out to never exist.

The worst part are the scams which, in the end, have someone begging for money. "Oh, I am now destitute, please help me and send me money!"

I heard of one case where people reading someone's blog got incensed over a custody battle that was played out as if it were about the couple's child. It turned out to be over ... a bird.

It all leaves people jaded. A couple of months ago I watched a big to-do about someone (who was using an alias, so no easy way to check facts) who claimed their spouse had suddenly died and was asking for money. People were instantly suspicious. Others called the suspicious people heartless, but how many times can you watch people cry wolf before you start suspecting a fake under ever rock? [It turned out to be a true story.]

There's also a lot of false fronts out there. Look at James Chartrand, who blogged for years and turned out to be a woman, because she found out that only when she posted as a man she was taken seriously.

What I'm trying to say, Dave, is that it's not about you personally. It's about the people who do and sometimes have to hide behind false fronts. And it's about the one bad apple in each bushel that's making it harder and harder to not be jaded.

Kristine said...

LOL! You're a mythical creature! That's kinda awesome. :) I copied Lady Gaga and Bette Midler and dressed up as a "mermaid in a wheelchair" one year for Halloween. I had so much fun with the costume, I decided it should become my standard answer when people ask why I use a chair: "Well, I'm actually a mermaid, so obviously I can't walk." I wanna be a mythical creature. :)

As far as the more serious side of disappearing... Yes, so true. My chair has a seat elevator, so I can raise it up about 12 inches, and be at more typical standing height. It's been really interesting over the years to note the difference in how I'm treated, just based on whether or not I'm using the elevator. Down at chair level, I notice a definite difference in the tone and approach people take with me. I encounter more people being condescending and awkward, if they even "see" me at all. When I'm at standing height, even though there's still an entire wheelchair and all that goes with it, I'm treated with more respect.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, that's interesting. A friend of mine who has ALS recently came across the exact same things being said about her.

It makes me wonder about the trolls on the internet.