Friday, August 14, 2015

Forest Grump

A friend of mine was describing a vacation she was about to take. Her face went all smiley as she described going to a place where there's no wifi, no television, no cell phone service. She will be completely unplugged for two whole weeks. They are planning on hiking and boating and exploring the forest around the cabin they've rented. I told her that it sounded wonderful.

I wasn't lying.

It sounded wonderful - for her.

I had no intention of bring a disability perspective to the conversation because, it really wasn't needed. This was about her and her vacation, I could easily say, that it sounded wonderful because her voice told me it was wonderful, her smile told me that it was wonderful, they way she relaxed even as she described it told me that it was wonderful. For her.

Then she asked if I could unplug for a couple of weeks.

I said, "No, I couldn't."

"Not even if you were up at a beautiful cabin in the woods and on a lake?"

"No," I said. But I didn't want her to walk away thinking of my answer as being about my inability to 'unplug' ... because, that's not it. I didn't want her to think that I was a real life forest grump. So, I brought disability to the table, "You have to understand that if I rented the same cottage, I'd be stuck in the cottage. I'd not be able to hike, or explore the forest, or go boating. So, what I'd be doing is sitting watching the people I was with go do those things. It would be incredibly isolating for me."

While I get annoyed at people who are constantly on their devises, even when out walking on the street, making hazards of themselves because they aren't paying attention to their surroundings, you will not hear me go on and on about the evils and perils of the Internet. In fact, for me, the Internet holds many blessings. Beyond seeing cute inspirational quotes decorated by kittens and puppies, of course. The Internet reduces my isolation as a disabled person. It gives me quick and ready access to the disability community and allows me conversations that I would not be able to have in the real world.

I am surrounded by non-disabled people, for the most part. I am also surrounded by straight people for the most part. Now, I'm good with both those things, but sometimes I feel a bit lonely. But when I'm feeling like I really need to have gay conversations with gay people about subjects understood by lgbt people, I hop in my chair and go to our friendly neighbourhood accessible gay bar. However, there isn't such a thing for me when it comes to the disability community - except here, on the Internet.

I don't choose, or haven't yet chosen, to unplug from the support and the conversations and the humour and the insight and the warmth of the disability community, in all its forms here on line. Even when I stopped blogging for a month, I still connected through Facebook and through various other means.

I do not wish to be alone in a forest.

Or, really, anywhere.


Anonymous said...

Amen! I like the idea of unplugging well enough but then I'd be without the things which sustain and interest me: work, reading online, communicating. Being surrounded by natural beauty WHILE having wifi? That would be heavenly. The internet gives me the legs to travel in my mind, and I love it.

clairesmum said...

makes good sense to me. lately i am noticing that when i read your posts, i am reminded that one situation or story can evoke very different responses from participants (and readers).
judging others in my head is really my own judgement of myself, and a projection of my (fear based expectation) that others are judging me critically.
my own voice is mine, valid and legitimate and worthy of respect - and I need to respect my own voice and stop worrying about what others will think of me.
(a lifelong learning opportunity for me, as i seem to keep forgetting and need to relearn....)

AnyBeth said...

I have a disability community local to me, but not terribly available. (Internet is 24/7.) And I can find different things online. (It pains me how the local group evidently refuses to get political even when politics directly affects the people. The city fought ADA and demonized people with disabilities when it inevitably lost the lawsuit that it never should have gotten into. We weren't willing to do anything, and that makes me sick.)

I'm a literally-overnight atheist living in an area where people use "Christian" to mean "good person". The closest possibly-relevant group is well over an hour away and meets infrequently. Were it not for those online communities, I'd be very alone in this aspect.

Aside from that, certain common features of internet communication makes my cognitive disabilities less obvious. Reading and typing are almost always easier for me than listening and speaking. And I'm generally places where response isn't expected to be immediate, so my slower processing and production speeds aren't often an issue. Like how there's no need for anyone to know how long it's taken me to write this comment, not unless I choose to say. It's nice. Better still, communities are so diverse that I'm part of private, friendly, accepting group where I can be however I am at any time. Even when my condition is severely affecting language. A community I can take part in ALL the time. Now I have to go tell them just how awesome they are.

Anonymous said...

I am in the middle of this. When I had my accident and became disabled, I was (and continue to be) so thankful for the internet and other communications. I was stuck at home, but I wasn't stuck for community. Yet, I too get annoyed that people will chose to be on their devices instead of engaging with other folks that are with them. I am also annoyed that unless you are on Facebook, you can't participate in/with many things. I find that controlling. I like the idea that I can use the technology, but it doesn't use me. I would enjoy being away, in the nature, but would also be frustrated that I couldn't enjoy it to its fullness (hiking, boating, etc.) It is a balance, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I am looking for information on the impacts of false allegations on ordinary people. So far I know the victims of slander and defamation may fall prey to family breakups, loss of job, loss of social standing, homelessness and sometimes suicide.

Is there a way to search your blog for all your articles on the subject of false claims and how they impact the falsely accused?

It seems we live in an age when people ignore defamation and delusion and seem to insist that every claim is true, which as you know is not possible. Anyway, since you are an expert and welcome spirited debate.... is there a way to search your archives for related articles on false claims and how they impact innocent people targeted by liars?

Thank you, by the way, for your contribution to clarifying abuse issues for your readers.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anon at 21:47

I don't believe that the blog has a search engine of any kind. However, you won't find any articles written here about the topic because I'm sure I've not written about it on the blog. As I mentioned before, this is a personal, not work, blog. I'm not sure where you'd find that information but it must be available somewhere.