Has TikTok become a modern day version of the freak show?
If you are active in disability communities, you have almost inevitably come across disability TikTok. Providing brief insights into the lives of disabled people, it is the fastest growing platform available for the dissemination of information, but is there a darker side to the virality of video’s relating to disability?
From Autism, to ADHD, to Tourettes. We are giving people our emotional label to see the world through our neurodivergent eyes; for no longer than 10 minutes at a time.
For many of us, it is a place to relate to one another and feel less alone, but what of those that watch us as “entertainment”? I myself use TikTok, and have been surprised at the number of people who clearly aren’t there to learn. I stay for those who are, but itakes me uncomfortable.
Our lives are not your entertainment.
We are real, human people, worthy of dignity and respect. Our attempts to show you this should not be fetishized and mocked. If you come to disabled TikTok purely to laugh at us; you are the problem.
I don’t exist purely to make you feel better about you’re own identity. I’m not your inspiration, and I’m not a museum exhibit in a cabinet of curiosities. My life has value, a value that can’t be measured in the monetisation of followers, or the number of people that use my struggles to inflate their sense of superiority.
If you come into disabled spaces sans disability, you need to be willing to sit and listen. My struggles are not an invitation for you to voice how grateful you are that you are not me. My strengths are not a source of income, or fuel for your secret desire that superheroes exist.
I’m not the concept of disability that you have in your head. I’m not a fucking concept at all. I’m a real person with a real life.
If you can’t treat me with dignity, then kindly stay out of our spaces.
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