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Re: [LUG] Etiquette was Re: Lightening this morning ...


On 09/01/14 19:35, Simon Avery wrote:
Everyone has their drawbacks and problems. At least I've got a name for mine. It's great that nowadays much more is understood about it and kids get a lot more support and understanding, and the then accepted habit of grown men standing over and shouting at little boys who can't understand something for five minutes in front of a whole class has largely disappeared.
It's impossible for anyone on the list to know - unless I've mentioned it before and you have a better memory than me [1] - but I have Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, the most obvious manifestation of which is that I use a wheelchair full-time.  In that I suppose in a way I have an advantage over those with learning difficulties - apologies of course if that phrase offends, it is not intended to in any way - because my disability is blindingly obvious whereas you cannot see just by looking at someone that they are dyslexic, or have Asperger's etc.

This is one of the reasons I have always loved computers and electronic communication; preconceptions and stereotypes are useless.

Outside of a few basic exceptions, such as professional instances where your name is displayed and somebody might make a guess about your sex, race or heritage from that (and even there, Bad Apple demonstrates you can sometimes avoid even that), there's, well, nothing to go on until that person starts writing and even then, they have total control about what they reveal about themselves to you.

If I met you IRL without knowing you first, I would be unsure of how best to talk to you, and probably be awkward, patronising or insulting. Unintentional on my part certainly, but probably very irritating to you. Whereas in this realm, you, I or anyone compete in a purely textual medium without any such overhead. I consider the /typed/ language to be the purest form of communication possible.  (Typed, because bad handwriting has connotations too)

The only drawback is somehow the subtleties are easily mis-read, insults taken where not intended and feelings hurt unless excruciating time is taken to over-stress the respect shown. This is especially relevant in those who don't write much and type as they talk.  Not sure how that could ever be resolved.

(No insult about learning difficulties - it's a fact. I don't learn in a conventional way, so I have adapted.)

Not directly related to the disability but as a separate issue my left hand is only about 50% useful (and that's being generous).  As a result of the latter I commonly make typos [2] and as the hand issue only cropped up when I was 30 (I'm 43 now) it irritates the hell out of me, so although I am not dyslexic myself I can sympathise to a degree with those who are and are sensitive about typing errors.  With regard to remarks people make about disability in general, and mine specifically, I always try - not always successfully it has to be said - to be aware of the intent of the comment.  If someone is extracting a specific bodily fluid and/or being malicious I will most likely lose my temper, however if their intention is humorous - laughing /with/ me not /at/ me that is - I tend to laugh along with them.

That sounds remarkably balanced and probably makes you easier to be with than many people. Some years ago I read some words from a wise man; "Don't deliberately offend others".  An even wiser person added "And don't be easily offended yourself."   Good ideals, imo, although sometimes hard to stick to the second!

However, that is my own personal stance based on my life experiences which have been nothing like as severe as some of those shared in this thread, and it is /not/ my place - nor would I wish - to preach or criticise anyone who does not share my view.  Just sharing my way of dealing with comments about disability in general and mine in particular :)

And it's appreciated. I don't know what it's like to live as you, or you as me - but by sharing views and comments we both gain a distant understanding that perhaps has a benefit in everyday interactions with all people.
Best wishes,

Hi Simon,

Regarding humour I don't think there is anything that says just because I am a wheelchair user that if I do something stupid people are not allowed to find it funny and take the mickey, and I think being aware of that is an important factor, not just in my case or exclusively with disability, but in general.  For example one rather pretentious friend on holiday many years ago broke the front wheel of his chair, but informed us it was perfectly alright as the chair was well balanced and he couldn't tell in normal use.  What he consistently forgot for the whole holiday was that to get onto a pavement you need to put your weight on the front of the chair to push up onto it.  Needless to say he landed on his backside several times as there was nothing to take his weight on the one side and we were frankly merciless in reminding him.  It might be said that it was fine for us to do so as we were all disabled as well as friends, but I think the latter is equally important.  One standup comic asked me during his act 'Can you get done for drunk driving in that?' and I replied 'Only if I'm stupid enough to take it on the road!' and everybody laughed.  As I said in the last mail it's all about context and intent.

The last point you mentioned is an interesting one.  The frequency has definitely dropped off over the years, but I have fairly regularly received the ubiquitous 'you're so brave' comment which I find confusing and irritating in equal measure.  You're absolutely right that neither of us knows what it is like to live as the other, but I think that is true of a lot of people from different cultures and countries, not just disability related.  In my opinion it boils down to the definition of Normal.  To some people the definition of Normal is what the majority are capable of / believe etc, however I think there is a second definition more pertinent to this discussion, and that is what the /individual/ is used to.

Having been born disabled I have been a wheelchair user for the vast majority of my life (until six years old I exclusively walked with calipers and crutches, after six I had my first wheelchair so I had the option).  The upshot is that it is automatic for me to get out of bed into my wheelchair, into the bathroom, kitchen, and out to my car (when I was working a daily occurrence of course).  The only difference between me and somebody who can walk is the method of movement, and yet some would call me 'brave', really in my opinion without justification.  Granted there are some activities which do present more of a challenge, such as flying on my own to America, which I have done four times, but even those can be handled with proper planning, and I think that's a common factor to everyone; Proper Planning Prevents Particularly[1] Poor Performance.

Kind regards,


[1] Yes I know the original word was shorter :)
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