Welcome back! This week, I will pick up where I left off last time, talking about the situation facing people with Down syndrome, and realizing that there are some similarities with our own problem. Namely, how society has come to a strange conclusion that we: those who are neurodiverse, disabled, or diverse in any way, shape or form (I remember hearing about how the trans community got sick and tired of everyone thinking that just because they are different from the norm, their lives are somehow immeasurably worse. We hear you). Also the shared pain of driving in the city at night. Or during freezing ice, heavy rain, with other people who don't know how to drive. Driving man, it’s a struggle.
Ever stop to think that, on an almost daily basis, we are driving, or sitting in, large, fast-moving machines that have the power of a hundred horses or more, outrun any other land-based mode of transportation, is either made entirely of metal or plastic, and with the simple turn of a steering wheel can turn a fast moving killing machine?
So what specifically is the problem we, people who are neurodiverse, disabled, and other, is this: our society has a rather weird idea on what it’s like to be, well, not normal. And this idea is not new (and also a chance to show off some of what I learned in my media communications class! Hooray for showing off!). We all take something for granted, like for example, sight. Does not need a wheelchair, prosthetic limb, or the like. Or having a neurology that fits within society's definition (this might be an odd way of trying to mention neurodiversity, but I think we all know what I mean). And to someone who perfectly understands the rules of society, has sight, and does not need such devices like a prosthetic limb or a wheelchair, that way of life can seem like the best way, perhaps the only way, to live.
Than, when someone comes in (is born, immigrants from somewhere, etc.) that is not, in your view, lucky to have all the same abilities that you have, their life must be somehow worse with no benefits at all, and therefore deserves your undying (and incessant) pity. Or is a life form of lower stature than you, and plans to usurp you and everyone like you through their devious, none-normal way of life (shout out to the eugenics movement, you forcefully-sterilizing chums you). Either way, they’re not like you, and that's bad.
And this is where the which came first, the chicken or the egg/nature versus nurture debate comes in, concerning media-communications of course. See, there are a few theories about who is the bigger influencer of society. Either public personas (think local politicians, celebrities, popular media personalities) believed in these negative stereotypes of the diverse members in their midst, and used their influence on the common folk to teach them how to behave towards them, how to imagine them (poor, unfortunate, can't do what we can do), and on and on. From here, the media is influenced by the public personas, which is in turn influenced by the mass population (this, in media-savvy lingo, is called the 2-step approach).
Though, to be honest, it sounds more like a dance move than anything media-like. “Okay everyone, were going to learn how to do the 2-step approach now”.
The other major theory is this. The public personas decide to cut out the middleman altogether, and either directly influence the media themselves, or create their own media, and use the/their media to pass on messages to the public about how those who are diverse deserve pity because of, well, you know. The public than consumes these messages and acts on them, believing the messages in part or in whole (this is called the Hypodermic needle approach. You learn new stuff everyday, like how hypodermic needle sounds more frightening than it does educational).
You can see the dilemma. The point is, the bias that, from what I read, society holds towards people with Down syndrome seems to read parallel, word for word, the same bias that society holds towards people with Autism/Asperger’s and others. So, during this holiday season (or regular season but with just more snow and unforgiving cold), while you about your business buying groceries, working, keeping on top of school work or taking advantage of opportunities cropping up for you (Or both). Or even fighting to change your societies views of whichever oppressed group you belong to/sympathize with, spare a thought for others like you who are facing the same kind of problems. Perhaps even reach out to them, form an alliance, and push for social change together.
Strength in numbers. Until next time, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.