Social Media: Can It Be a Force for Good?

Social media. Social media can often be seen in a dark light and as something that can hinder one’s wellbeing. It can be a source of comparison and a play a role in the décor of one’s rabbit hole if they let themselves be consumed by the tiny squares or life updates from others who pick and choose what they share. But there is also another side to this platform, which can be so positive if used in the right way.

The way that we engage and use the online world has changed dramatically from years ago when Facebook was mainly used, with people just sharing updates on their life. However, now there are many outlets and are often used to start conversations and express stories. So given that now social media can be used to shed light on things that may be left in the dark, can at least some of it be seen as a force for good?

I use social media as a tool to express my voice, my thoughts and views about my disabled experience.  My disability is something that I used to keep under wraps when I could, not really talking about it voluntarily. However after sometime, writing on this blog and by gentle encouragement from those around me I started to introduce my Cerebral Palsy. I found sharing my ideas in this way to be something that was so freeing, discussing my disability wasn’t something to be afraid of. Expressing this part of myself also allowed for connection with other disabled people and I learnt soo much in turn.

I wanted to know if others felt the same about social media-if others felt that good could come from social media, or if it was me just having rose-tinted glasses on. The responses I got reflected my thoughts that online can be used for good. First and foremost, sharing experiences an having a space to do this was something that I picked up from in one’s person response, saying how it “Gives a personal story of those whose voice might not be heard.” This was something that really resonated with me. Sometimes people may only be in touch with those who look like them, share similar interests and values and be part of the same community.  This was also reflected in one response who said how friends of theirs who have “Difficulty [in] communication verbally” “Feel like they have a voice that is paid attention to on here [Instagram], as opposed to in-person interactions where others may avoid communicating with them, or have difficulty understanding them.”  This is something that I could identify with, having a speech impediment myself.

It seems that by logging on to the online world, you are logging on to find lives away from your immediate one. One that could be informed and shaped in a way that otherwise wouldn’t be.

The freedom of expression was also something one person said to be a positive about using the online world, saying “Talking about the ups and downs and my ‘normal’ has not only helped me but also helped complete strangers who message that they feel the same way and even created new friendships.”   In some regard then, this outlet could be considered an educational tool too. It definitely has for me.  Reading/hearing perspectives from other disabled people allows me to better understand and reflect upon how I think about my disability.

The sense of gaining insight is not limited to a disabled person to another disabled person, non-disabled people can learn about disability too. One person replied saying how by listening to disabled people has “helped” them “destigmatize disability and tackle my own ableism”. Isn’t this what the platform should be for? To educate and shake up perspective ….and maybe the odd cute cat photo dump just to please the eyes?

Sharing experiences can be daunting, especially when you are unsure whether anyone will understand and/ or respect what is being said. Even now I still sometimes second guess myself when sharing some perspectives. And so, it is such a lovely feeling when people respond saying that they feel heard or understood. When I went to social media to find out what people thought social media was good for, the sense of community was something that a lot of people touched upon.  Someone said how it allows for “Making genuine friendships and being part of a community that understands”, followed by someone else who said how this platform “Provides community and understanding.” The feeling of support is something that I also deeply feel. Whenever I post something online about disability I receive such supportive feedback, in terms of people saying how something resonated with them or sharing their experiences. I feel held. I feel understood. I feel less alone when experiencing such thoughts. 

Even though social media can be a trying place at times and I do think it is important to step away from time to time- at weekends no screen time (or more limited screen time) is something I like to often do- it can also be used to bring about positivity. One person echoed how parts of this world can be a good thing, when they said “I have gained so much confidence especially in my body after seeing so many beautiful disabled women on here proudly posing in their wheelchairs, showing off their gorgeous selves and building up other women.”

I think we need to focus on using social media to create change and be a space that keeps starting helpful and useful conversations having even more reasons to celebrate the online world and work to minimize the harm created these platforms.

Seeing Yourself As Enough

Dear Reader,

Ever get that feeling that you’re not enough? That you’re not doing enough? That what you are right now and who you are is not enough? Well this is something that can honestly feel quite lonely and depletes one’s energy and when in such a mind-set….the hope of this turning round does not seem like a move that can be made. However it’s me who is writing this post and even though I can annoy the crap out of myself being a positive Polly and sometimes just wanting to see the volume of water that is in the glass in whatever damn way (without a psychological explanation being attached to this), it is true that this is not a feeling that is felt by a singular person- it is experienced by many.

It feels like I’ve gone off into the deep end, I didn’t mean to here but fear of not doing enough are thoughts that I have been experiencing of late. Back in May I shared on my social media that I had been experiencing pain as a result of my Cerebral Palsy, which meant I couldn’t do very much at all for a while, and for someone like me who always wants to be a busy bee this was kinda hard. Since then these aches have been on and off depending on how much I’ve been doing. It’s that knowing that I’m not doing, not continually moving forwards, which at these times are my more prominent thoughts, the insistent chatter of what I could be doing clogs up the ol’ mind. Somehow this has more of an importance than it did before. I guess it’s a classic case of when you can’t do something, you want to do things even more with the imagination running wild with ideas. Ohhh how the mind chatters!

Sitting there with all these thoughts was kind of like toying with someone else’s story-it wasn’t I who was living out that day, it was a character I created in my brain. A character with no flaws who navigated a flawless day-ironically, this whole idea is flawed! The thing is by participating in such creativity and building a picture of a person of who you think you should be kind of puts one into self-destruction mode, picking out parts of oneself that aren’t enough, that they should be more focussed- basically berating anything that makes one human-the mistakes, the getting things wrong, the going at a different pace to everyone else, the not living up to expectations people or even you had of yourself … the list is endless. All this obsession over what you think you don’t measure up to will only make you feel worse.

I do think now more than ever we need to be kind to ourselves as well as each other. This year has thrown everyone sideways in one way or another, yet we can find ways to tear ourselves down and tell ourselves that we should be doing more or that we’re not doing what we should be. There is no ‘right’ way to think, but if we just found a way not to be too harsh or expect too much of ourselves and be a bit more gentle maybe we would start to feel a little lighter in a world that already seems so heavy. I guess what I want to say is that it’s okay if you are not where you thought you would be, focus on where you are and the pathways that could lead from there. It goes without saying that everyone will experience peaks and trots and just because you find yourself at a low, up against a challenge, facing a flare up, it does not mean you can’t get back or that it will be like this forever. I am saying this to you as well as myself, do not let these not so great days define who you are.

There’s that saying ride the wave. Although this can seem like a fleeting statement, it actually does have some merit-stay with me here. Instead of fighting what you are experiencing and burying yourself down some dark rabbit hole, I started to realise, when I had to take a break from things that rather than focusing on whether or not I was measuring up to being enough or trying to justify to myself as to why I was not doing thing, I started think about how just resting and being more present could just help the future me: if I rest now, I’ll be able to do more later.

All my love XX

A Call to Change How Disability is Seen

Dear Reader,

It is funny (not the haha kind, more the stop and think kind) how the world is sooo pent up and focusing on fixing things, solving this by pretending they are not there instead working around them. I guess that would require too much ground work. This idea becomes dangerous when these things are not just things but are people and the outlook remains the same- the focus being ‘how can this be fixed’ or ‘made better’. Well, spoiler alert, this can’t be fixed, made better or be shunned away through any other ableist ideologies-how about…they you know…turn that frown upside down and realised that it’s more about people working with what they’ve got.
Sometimes disability is seen as some sort of disadvantage, and something that instantly categorises people with disabilities as ‘the disabled’ as if they’re a faulty model. As a person with a disability, it is all too familiar and expected that I will see someone’s eyes widening and their voice reach a new octave as I share a little about who I am, flabbergasted that I am just as human as them. However something in their behaviour says that this stereotype of disability is still being brought into.

Though I write and do my part to raise awareness of disability I do not know quite how to tackle one’s perception of this. Dating back to long ago people with disabilities were…let’s just say there was no voice that represented this community so I guess this stereotype was the only reference point. But this stereotype was only formed because there was no voice, still the only voice that was heard were men in power(sometimes I do wonder if times have changed). Even though the community of people with disabilities has come a long way, with campaigns around inclusions being had, it still feels like we haven’t reached our peak! When I ask myself how I can go about furthering my message, the only possible solution is to keep saying how things are for me, keep speaking out, keep writing stuff like this, call out when people show discriminative behaviour and do not let other people’s words and actions have an influence on how I view myself.

It is not only how people with disabilities are approached and talked to that needs to be addressed, but what is also needed is for society to be accessible and all round inclusive-some may call it ambitious, I call it essential! As I said above, the world can go around fixing things by pretending that they are not there, by this I mean by places STILL not accessible. Checking if somewhere is, for me, wheelchair friendly should not be a part of my ‘check before you travel’ routine. On this note: London underground! Now I know it is at the height of hustle and bustle but it is also the most inaccessible and my question is why? We’ve got technologies for the more unnecessary such as being able to see on your phone who is at your door, so why can’t some investment go into technology to engineer public transport to be just that transport for PUBLIC use, transport for EVERYbody?
I’d love to say that the physical form of accessibility that the only an area of that needs stark improvement but this is just the start: how institutions relate to people with disabilities, be it in education or in, or accessing, work need to undergo a major change in order for the same opportunities to be given to everyone. Therefore this means people with disabilities receive equal treatment to everyone else without having to go to extra measures to prove themselves, that extra thing that if disability was taken out of the equation these measures wouldn’t have to be taken. I do wonder if people without disabilities were questioned, were put through tests and were observed in the same way, what would be the response of these people? Would they understand the implications of ignorance? Would they finally see people and not what people have or haven’t got?

I am writing this as I no longer want to be silent and pretend that I am not moved by the inequality that is blandly obvious in society, a society that is fractured and unable stand in solidarity with those with differences. I am one of many with these thoughts and I hope that others who resonate with these words are able to feel empowered to share theirs. But not only do I hope these voices come forward, I also hope people who are on the other side of the coin, who don’t have a disability, that these words play a role in their understanding in how such judgement feels. Perhaps this understanding will also go towards changing their perspective and actions towards disability!

All my love XX

This will pass

✨ I hope you can find magic this Monday however small ?✨

Illustration by @emilycoxhead

Image description: words in black handwriting that reads: “It’s okay to feel flat you can’t ALWAYS bounce back CONVERSATIONS can be TOUGH doing the RIGHT thing isn’t always enough . We can’t have HAPPINESS without a little pain hard times will pass again & again- emily coxhead.” These words are on a illustrated lined piece of paper. This paper is on a blue background with a illustration of a rainbow in the center. Illustration is by @emilycoxhead

Honey I’m Home!!

Dear Reader,

It has been a real long while since I have posted anything on here and I have missed blogging, I really have. I guess it that good ol’ excuse of life getting in the way. But when thinking of it, it’s actually me getting in the way of myself…I mean it’s me who make plans and then break than again. So on behalf of me, that part of me that is the putter offer, that part of me that has made a big, brighter, endless list for tomorrow, I am sorry.

While I have be absent in here I must confess, I have cheated on you with other social media, namely Instagram. I have ever more ripped off the seal that was keeping shut tight the lid on my disability and my thoughts around this, as well as going a bit ninja (as my bestie would say) and have started to speak about things that do not sit right with me- the stereotype around disability and how stigma NEEDS to end. Now.

Now, don’t worry I am still full of rainbow fluffiness happiness and that will not change, but in order for this rainbow fluffiness happiness to continue things need to be aired, views need to be discussed and challenged and we need to stop being so darn polite and just say if something is bothering us- like can people just treat me as another human being and not treating me as if I am the disability? I still think in today’s society a lot needs to be done for it to be a place that is fully inclusive and rather than, or only, accepting differences but embracing differences too.

On here, on this blog was were my love affair with writing begin, and without sounding like Joe Goldberg from You (a Netflix series, surrounding a guy obsessed with, and a therefore “would do anything for” love-and this really does mean ANYTHING!), where I found you. It was through writing I found a way to express what I found difficult to say aloud. Reader this felt utterly freeing and found that the Queen of vulnerability, Brene Brown was right, vulnerability does pave the pathway for connection. Sharing parts of my story, expressing my thoughts on my disability, only allowed me to get to know others that have gone through similar things.

I guess I wanted to remind you that letting people see who you are is important. Why? Because it means that you don’t have to continue to hide and make up this idea of someone who is not you. Because you can start to see who you are and feel your power. Because by doing so you will feel less lonely; in this world of social media and by sharing your experiences there will be people reading/hearing your words and will resonate with them and maybe reach out. At the back of this they will also feel less alone in the world, finally finding someone with a similar story to them.

I want to ask you not to be afraid to using your voice-your voice is your power. It is your weapon that no one can destroy. Use it well dear Reader. I am right behind you.

I intent to show my face on here a little more this year. I hope I will see you here too, hoping we can thrive together.

Until next time

All my love XX

It’s a double whammy!

? It’s a Happy double whammy today?? Happy Magic Monday and also Happy Sticker Day ?

I love me some fun stickers to spruce up my calendar… it’s adds a inspiration for the month (as any rainbow unicorn hearts or little positive words would ?)? Sooo get fun when your organising it might takes the edge of things that feel a little weighty, especially at the start of the year!

Also my writing is a little different than most but that’s ok. I can understand what I have wrote and that what matters, right? If you have a similar writing character, don’t let it stop you from creating your writing artwork ???

Reframing Disability

✨? And don’t be made to think differently.

Happy Magic Monday My Fabulous Ones?✨

Image description: words on a yellow-green cut out piece of paper that reads “A disability is something that you have, it is not you.” The paper is placed on a pink and green background

You Can!!

?✨Happy Magic Monday my Fabulous Ones ✨?

This a reminder at the start of the week, that you, yes YOU, can do anything ?? Turn them thoughts into reality and make yourself proud???✨

Illustration by @soolooka

[Image description : There are two illustrations of plant pots. On one plant pot there is writing that reads ‘I can’t do it ‘ with a small bud. The other pot has writing on it that says ‘I can do it’ with a tall flower with smiley face drawn on the flower head. There is an illustration of a person turning towards the pot with the flower with a magic wand in there hand. Above this illustration reads the words ‘everyone has magic power to make a thought grow’. And underneath reads ‘make sure you choose the thoughts that make your life better’. The background of this illustration is purple. This illustration is by @soolooka]

Stop Hiding!!

? Happy Magic Monday my Fabulous Ones?

There’s a saying never be afraid who you are. I for one am a huge advocate of this. There was a time when I would ask “ Can you not get my wheelchair in the photo?” But really what is there to hide? Why should I hide apart of myself? Why should I fear the behaviours of others?

Ignoring apart of myself will only lead to misery, to fixate on a unhealthy desire to be someone that I’m not destined to be and really who I don’t want to be. The thing is this hiding thing came really from a place of wanting rather the needing ??‍♀️ and who honestly wants to hide?-unless you eat the last sweet in the packet and you feel all eyes glare at you ??

So for the last few years I have dropped this want to hide and have allowed my wheels to be seen …and they do also say give credit whet credit is due and my chariot really does need this after all where she have taken me!

Let us not be afraid of who we are, let’s try to acknowledge all parts of ourselves . If we just try and not let those naysayers pollute our perception and force us to believe that we “should” be a certain way. Would we really want to be around these people?

Show of them beautiful peacock feathers and don’t be afraid in doing this … and just a heads up make sure no one is around as you devour the last sweet ??????

[Image description: Rebecca is sitting in her wheelchair. Rebecca is smiling at the camera. Behind her is a grass area ]

Self-belief

?✨ Happy Magic Monday My Fabulous Ones ✨?

This is your Monday reminder, via the wonderful @stacieswift, to always try and go after what you believe✨✨ It is not a easy thing to do at times, but it is always worth it! Believe in your lovely self ???

[Image description: the word ‘HAVE’ is printed in white in the centre of the image. Underneath is the word ‘COURAGE ‘ written more bigger and bolder. Underneath reads italic words in brackets ‘EVEN IF YOU FEEL A BIT WOBBLY AT FIRST’. The background of this illustration is pink. This illustration is by @stacieswift]