Disability Topic of the Month: Social Media
Hello Readers! I am pleased to be back after a short break! My name is Toni-Marie. I will tell you just a little bit about my disability as I feel it is relevant. I have cerebral palsy quadriplegia and scoliosis of the spine. This means I am a full-time electric wheelchair user.
Social for Good!
When I think about the whole issue of social media, I am bombarded with a mixture of feelings and emotions. Largely because it is undeniable that social media is an unbelievably powerful platform within our society and the world today.
Take a minute to think about all the positives regarding the role social media can play in our lives. There is no doubt whatsoever that it can most definitely be instrumental in enforcing change for the good on a global, societal and community level. It is incredible just how fast society will get behind a particular issue that is brought to light using social media. Especially if, we as individuals have some personal “lived experience” of the same issue or cause, or if the issue pulls the heartstrings somehow. And even more so if it is backed by a royal, political, religious or celebrity figure. Marcus Rashford’s FareShare campaign is a prime example of that.
I always commend anyone with some kind of status, for putting themselves forward to achieve a potentially life-changing, sustainable, and the hope is everlasting positive change. Although, I do feel that to achieve global change for the better, it is perhaps more successful if someone already has a status of some kind. So much good can come out of the ability to connect with others easily. Not least the sharing of information, connections, advice, articles and building on new and existing friendships at the touch of a button!
The use of social media when thinking in terms of those with disabilities can most certainly be a gateway to a much richer life in general. Social media can put an end to social isolation, and in doing so it can instead be used to promote the ultimate feeling of inclusion for all. If used in the right way, social media platforms can also be life-enhancing for many in terms of business, promotion and economic growth. It has the power to do so much more good than I can write here!
The Dark Side Of Being Social Savvy!
That being said, there is also a devastating, heart-breaking and life-changing dark side to the whole issue of social media. Situations whereby the use of social media has led to bullying and in the most devastating of scenarios, to suicide. At this point, my mind is immediately remembering people who were either in the public eye already or those who found themselves in the middle of high-profile cases as a direct result of what happened to them. In each case, I am reminded of the fact that they were most typically young people who were bright and engaging, with their whole lives ahead of them. For the sake of the families left behind, we should all continue to make a huge effort to be mindful of how we conduct ourselves when using social media.
Not forgetting that there is an immense amount of pressure that can become a very real reality for many. Particularly concerning the desire to want to portray living their best lives through social media. Ironically, this is a feeling that is also perpetuated by the very use of social media platforms themselves. I for one know, that my inner confidence is an ongoing battle as a woman with a complex physical disability. And that is a battle that rages on – even before I introduce the whole aspect of social media. Perhaps we should all take a little more time and effort to celebrate exactly who we are regardless of any outside pressures.
Personal Plea To Facebook/Meta
On a personal note. I very sadly got locked out of my Facebook account well over a year and a half ago. This was and is due to my severe dexterity problems relating to my complex physical disability. At the time I was unavoidably separated from my family, and without any of my usual forms of communication. Which of course made it so much harder for me to do any necessary tasks with my usual amount of ease.
I am still residing in a different part of the country until further notice. And my problems with this issue started at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic. As requested at the time I sent all forms of identification that I had with me, to verify who I am. It is most certainly not helped by the fact that my account was linked to an email address that I no longer have access to, as well as other misinformation. I sent the requested information to all those responsible for access on more than one occasion. As well as contacting Facebook/Meta through my Twitter account to plead for their help but to no avail. Perhaps the most devastating part of all this is that I have photographs and memories there with loved ones who are no longer here with me on Earth. They are simply memories that I will never, ever be able to replace. Facebook/Meta have always played a massive role in my own life up until the point at which I could no longer access them. I used it to share information that could potentially help others with disabilities, their loved ones and/or their carers. As well as helping friends to put out gig information. And perhaps most importantly to reach out to those closest to me.
In a dream world, I suppose we would all have the ability, the car and the finances to be able to see everyone in person. This is where Facebook/Meta and all the other Apps and social media platforms do change lives most magically
I would dearly love to be able to work with forums such as these to improve the accessibility for those with any kind of physical impairment which makes accessing them so much more difficult if and when things go wrong.
So Facebook/Meta, if you are reading this, I am sending out my last heartfelt plea for your help to access my original Facebook/Meta account.
Always see your ability in disability.
Thank you so much for reading!
Disclaimer: The views expressed are the author’s own.