bio_dave_hingsburgerSome of you who read here are also connected to my blog through Facebook. Some of you resolutely do not use Facebook. I apologize to the second group right now because I’m going to write about a Facebook Fenomenon which I feel I really need to address. I do not wish to offend anyone, I do not wish to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I also feel I need to, and have a right to, express my own sensibilities.

Facebook a while back decided that they would give people other options besides the ‘like’ thumbs up symbol as a way of responding to what people write. So they have emoticons, I think they are called, where people can react with a variety of different feeling faces. So you have the ability to express: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry.

I want to take issue with the use of the sad face. It’s not just a sad face, its a weeping face:

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Image description: Facebook ‘Sad’ face, mouth turned down, big blue tear under the left eye.

When I write about unpleasant experiences with discrimination or hostility regarding any of my identities: as a disabled mad, a gay man or a fat man, my own feeling regarding writing are almost invariably not ‘sad.’ I can be angry, frustrated, upset, concerned, impassioned, I almost never, ever, when writing feel sorry for myself. I don’t feel sorry for myself because I don’t view it as my issue or my problem. I get that it is my issue in that I have to deal with it, what what I’m dealing with is other people’s issues, other people’s prejudices and that makes me angry, or if not angry some variant of feeling wherein anger is part of the mix.

Let me veer off for a second and say, I hate pity. I hate it when people feel sorry for me. I don’t need your pity and in fact it angers me. (There’s that anger again, I truly do not spend my life angry!) I loved a tee shirt that was developed within the disability community with expressed my feeling exactly:

pisstn

Image Description: Black Tea Shirt with PISS ON PITY written in big pink letters.

Now here’s the thing. I know that when people use the ‘sad face’ the ‘crying face’ they are expressing a kind of solidarity with me, saying that what I’ve written makes them feel sad. Even so, I need to say, my reaction is that people are expressing pity and it upsets me. I know it’s silly that an emoticon can do that to a person, but it does. I don’t want people to cry about my life in any way shape or form. Your tears scare me, it makes me feel that if other’s cry about my life, my life might be determined as a burden to live and if it’s a burden to live, I become a target of those who would relieve me of that burden.

The incredible thing is that what I’ve just said is not an expression of paranoia but a reaction to where we are with how disabled lives are valued. When I heard someone on television talking about a ‘target demographic’ I thought to myself immediately “That’s exactly who disabled people are, a demographic with a target on our backs.” We of the sad lives need rescuing by those with sharp needles and soft smiles.

No!

I think it’s possible to write about the disability experience without asking for ‘pity’ or ‘sorrow’ as a response. I think the disability experience, and the experience of any difference, is one that adds to the discussion of diversity and brings a different perspective to the table when the subject of equity is brought up. Our experiences matter, our voices matter, our lives matter … and our concerns do not benefit by being watered by your tears.

Piss on Pity.

Again, I know that people who have used this symbol in the past in reference to my blog posts or my Facebook updates are doing so to establish a kind of kinship solidarity. But, I need to ask: Stop.

Don’t cry over my life, it makes me want to stop sharing it.

Be emboldened. Be angered. React any way you want, but if you want to cry, maybe I don’t need to know.

Is that awful of me?