My current class is Sociology and we have threaded discussions, in the classroom’s online shell. We were discussing “nature versus nurture,” and in the course of this discussion, someone uttered the dreaded line “well, we’re all disabled in a way.” This simple-minded line of course nearly made my head explode with sheer outrage. Despite my extreme dislike of the line, I managed to be somewhat polite in pointing out that what she said was extremely stupid.
I think there are certain lines that are clear indications that the person speaking needs to stop talking. Generally, I can try to be understanding because at least eighty percent of anything I’ve ever said are also things I wish I hadn’t said, either because I didn’t know what I was talking about, or I got some critical bit of information wrong. However, it is often very clear to me that people occasionally need to be told that what they said was in fact stupid, so here is a short list.
Any variation of “well, we’re all disabled in a way.”
Unless we all become totally overwhelmed by environmental noises, extremely scratchy clothes and someone suddenly touching us for no reason we are not all disabled in a way. Unless we are all blind, deaf, limbless and speechless we are not all disabled in a way. Unless we all have the exact same problems learning to do simple or complicated tasks, we are not all disabled in a way. Unless we have to repeat every possible variation of a question in order to make sure we understood the answer correctly, we are not all disabled in a way. Unless we are all depressed, in pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia or other illness we are not all disabled in a way. When you say, “we’re all disabled in a way,” you are not being inclusive and understanding you are being stupid and ignorant. Shut up.
Don’t be so negative/just think positive/cheer up!
This is only moderately annoying unless paired with “we’re all disabled in a way,” in which case it becomes rage inducing. It is annoying because in many cases the person being told that they should be positive is not in fact being negative. They may just have a thoughtful, habitual frown. They might be thinking about a blog post they’re going to write. They might be thinking about something that has nothing to do with being negative.
If they are actually in a bad mood, what possible use would it be to tell them to cheer up? Granted it can be annoying listening to someone mope (and it can be annoying when you’re the one moping), but “cheer up,” isn’t exactly the best advice ever because when pressed the person saying “cheer up” can’t seem to come up with a strategy to do so. Thinking “positive” does not actually work if you are actually depressed and will probably result in feeling more depressed and guilty due to being unable to accomplish the task of “thinking positive.”
If someone tells you that he or she is not unhappy, him or her, if someone explains that he or she is not happy, be supportive without acting as if you think his or her unhappiness isn’t real because it’s inside his or her head. If you can’t do either, shut up.
Any variation of “you don’t really have a problem you know/that’s not a real problem.”
If the response of the person you are telling this too is any variation of “go to hell,” you need to not only shut up, but to apologize profusely first. Guess what, even if you were a professional doctor, since you are not that person’s doctor you actually have no say as to what his or her diagnosis actually is. Even if you were that person’s doctor, the fact that you can’t be bothered to listen to symptoms or comprehend that the person has the condition he or she says they do proves that you would be a pretty crappy doctor, so maybe you should consider shutting up. You should really shut up if you decide to imply that the person’s “real problem” is that they are lazy or lacking in some other quality you find important.