Saturday, September 03, 2016

P. O. P. No More Tears

Some of you who read here are also connected to my blog through Facebook. Some of you resolutely do not use Facebook. I apologize to the second group right now because I'm going to write about a Facebook Fenomenon which I feel I really need to address. I do not wish to offend anyone, I do not wish to hurt anyone's feelings, but I also feel I need to, and have a right to, express my own sensibilities.

Facebook a while back decided that they would give people other options besides the 'like' thumbs up symbol as a way of responding to what people write. So they have emoticons, I think they are called, where people can react with a variety of different feeling faces. So you have the ability to express: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry.

I want to take issue with the use of the sad face. It's not just a sad face, its a weeping face:

Image result for facebook emoticons
Image description: Facebook 'Sad' face, mouth turned down, big blue tear under the left eye.

When I write about unpleasant experiences with discrimination or hostility regarding any of my identities: as a disabled mad, a gay man or a fat man, my own feeling regarding writing are almost invariably not 'sad.' I can be angry, frustrated, upset, concerned, impassioned, I almost never, ever, when writing feel sorry for myself. I don't feel sorry for myself because I don't view it as my issue or my problem. I get that it is my issue in that I have to deal with it, what what I'm dealing with is other people's issues, other people's prejudices and that makes me angry, or if not angry some variant of feeling wherein anger is part of the mix.

Let me veer off for a second and say, I hate pity. I hate it when people feel sorry for me. I don't need your pity and in fact it angers me. (There's that anger again, I truly do not spend my life angry!) I loved a tee shirt that was developed within the disability community with expressed my feeling exactly:

Image result for piss on pity tee shirt disability
Image Description: Black Tea Shirt with PISS ON PITY written in big pink letters.

Now here's the thing. I know that when people use the 'sad face' the 'crying face' they are expressing a kind of solidarity with me, saying that what I've written makes them feel sad. Even so, I need to say, my reaction is that people are expressing pity and it upsets me. I know it's silly that an emoticon can do that to a person, but it does. I don't want people to cry about my life in any way shape or form. Your tears scare me, it makes me feel that if other's cry about my life, my life might be determined as a burden to live and if it's a burden to live, I become a target of those who would relieve me of that burden.

The incredible thing is that what I've just said is not an expression of paranoia but a reaction to where we are with how disabled lives are valued. When I heard someone on television talking about a 'target demographic' I thought to myself immediately "That's exactly who disabled people are, a demographic with a target on our backs." We of the sad lives need rescuing by those with sharp needles and soft smiles.


I think it's possible to write about the disability experience without asking for 'pity' or 'sorrow' as a response. I think the disability experience, and the experience of any difference, is one that adds to the discussion of diversity and brings a different perspective to the table when the subject of equity is brought up. Our experiences matter, our voices matter, our lives matter ... and our concerns do not benefit by being watered by your tears.

Piss on Pity.

Again, I know that people who have used this symbol in the past in reference to my blog posts or my Facebook updates are doing so to establish a kind of kinship solidarity. But, I need to ask: Stop.

Don't cry over my life, it makes me want to stop sharing it.

Be emboldened. Be angered. React any way you want, but if you want to cry, maybe I don't need to know.

Is that awful of me?


Adelaide Dupont said...


a good way to express feelings and opinions on the Web is Squerb.

Jay said...

I don't know if I have ever posted a sad face, but if I have it wasn't pity. Pity is an emotion I don't feel too darn often. I cry when j get mad a lot. Which pisses me off because people think I'm weak but I'm not I'm just so pissed off. I also cry sometimes when I read about how people treat others and it's not pity, it's a deep sadness about the state of humanity. So, I cry often (even happy tears) but I do not ever recall pity tears. It feels a bit like you are shaming people for their emotions. I get your message, but I hope you can see some other points of view.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Jay, that was my worry, I didn't want to shame people for their emotions or how they express them - however I wanted to balance how those expressions my affect others. Pity, sorrow and tears are complex things in relation to or reaction to disability, I was trying to express how dangerous they might be. I am not happy with the end result of what I wrote because I don't feel like I captured completely what I wanted to say. I hope I do see other points of view and I was hoping that people would grant me the same latitude in expressing mine.

Jayne Wales said...

Never felt pity for you and never put sad on anything you've written
I just get very zngry too about how so much shit flys about

ABEhrhardt said...

Never have I had less pity for a person than for you! It would be like pitying a Giant Redwood for not being able to go for a hike. Yes, it can't. But pity is the entirely wrong response to that fact. It'a a GIANT REDWOOD, for heaven's sake!

Glad you spoke up - I think they should provide one for 'groan,' the universal reaction to a bad pun, but they didn't ask me.

I don't think I've ever reacted to something you wrote by feeling sad. Angry or disgusted, sometimes, and always wishing what you had to write wasn't necessary to write about. But not sad. Sad keeps people from DOING something.

Unknown said...

Disabled/minority group person speaks up, says a particular emotional reaction to their stories makes them uncomfortable...and gets told they're "shaming" the people making them uncomfortable. Just why? It hurts no one to avoid using the sad-cry emoticon on someones facebook page when they've said please don't, and its not shaming anyone for a person to explain that a certain, unwarranted,response is hurtful to them. When did over-defensiveness to being challenged about things that need to change become more important than listening to each other?

Unknown said...

I don't use those new emoticons - I'm afraid they will be misinterpreted. I'll stick to "like" use words to share a response on FB.
I don't know what your FB posts are like.
I am one of those folks who cries much more in frustration and anger than in sadness is more internally expressed.
Your writings here stir complex emotions, including sadness, in me.
Sadness is a basic emotion, and like the others has many many shades...sorrow, disbelief, loss, grief...
Pity is not a basic emotion, it is a sham...a tool for distancing one's self from the reality of another person's experience.
It denies the authenticity of the person having the experience, and shifts the focus back to the writer or speaker.
Pity is toxic.Pity prevents the human connection that leads to change. Pity is not part of my vocabulary.
AND I do not ever hear your words as a plea for pity, Dave.

Jay said...

That's a silencing tactic. Because a person had a disability, one cannot engage in conversation to explore ideas? Wow, how patronizing! How do you know I don't have a disability as well? Who's disability trumps? Who is allowed to have an opinion? Is this disability wars?

From everything I have ever read from Dave, I don't think he's afraid of differing viewpoints it would want peoe not to speak up because he has a disability. Quite the opposite I think.

Unknown said...

Hi Jay, it doesnt matter whether you have a disability or not. It matters that you responded to a disabled person asking people not to do something entirely avoidable because it made him uncomfortable, by suggesting he was shaming the people making him uncomfortable. That happens All The Time to our community and its not ok. Calling out things that are not ok isnt a silencing tactic its a push for awareness and change.

But I'm confused. And not meaning this in an argumentative way, just a curious one. From everything you've ever read from Dave, why would you think his intention in writing this post was to shame people? Does that sound like something the person who writes this blog would do? And why do you think that saying 'I dont want your pity' and 'please stop responding to my posts with the sad-cry face emoticon because it makes me uncomfortable' is "shaming people for having emotions"? You wrote that you dont do pity so youre clearly not one of the pity feeling people the post referred to, and you also say you dont tend to use the sad-cry face emoticon so, if youre not any of the people Daves post is talking about then how are you getting "shaming" from what he wrote? Am I missing something in the post?

I think people use and see emoticons in a very personal way. I wouldnt use the sad-cry face to express pity usually because thats not what it represents to me. But if someone told me that was what it meant to them then I wouldn't use it with them unless pity is what I wanted to express. Because thats what communication is, learning each others languages and compromising so that we can minimise misunderstandings. If the sad-cry face to me meant "I empathise" I could find other ways to convey that to someone who didnt hear that from that emoticon. As long as I knew, because the other person had spoken up and said what they were feeling. Which is what Daves post is doing

Unknown said...

I use the sad face to mean something like "that sucks bro" or "that is upsetting, but the angry face doesn't feel right". For me as an autistic person sometimes the picture responses- be they stickers or the images in the new like buttons- allows me to engage socially even when I can't access the words to articulate things. Even though the images aren't always available to get things exactly right.

geekmaker said...

Thank you for writing this as it has shown me a perspective I hadn't considered but certainly will now. I use the 'sad face' from time to time when I read anything where people are being mistreated or have something unpleasant happen but it never occurred to me that it would come across as pity. To me it's a feeling of sadness that the world can so often be an ugly place but I definitely won't use it on your posts now that I understand how it feels to you.