Feminist Aspie

The Internet Is Real

on April 20, 2015

(Sidenote: I’m really off schedule for the next couple of weeks, so this blog will be too. I’ll try not to abandon it totally!!)

The internet is real. For some reason, we seem to have a tendency to treat it like some frivolous side-life that’s totally separate from the “real” world, but that doesn’t make much sense. It might not be a physical space – I’m writing this in one place and now you’re reading it in another place entirely – but you’re still reading my words. The internet is a method of communication, and it is real just like phones, radio and TV are real. Like everything else in the world, it has good and bad aspects, and shouldn’t be dismissed as some Awful Silly Bad Pointless Thing just because it’s relatively new.

Online social interaction is real. Maybe it’s a sore point, but I will not believe that Skyping my family regularly when I’m away at university, or long deep Facebook conversations with a friend, or having ALL THE FEELINGS over a blog post and sharing it all over the place, is arbitrarily less valid than frantically apologising face-to-face to someone I’ll only ever meet once because sometimes “sorry” is the only word I can just make happen on the spot, because the latter takes place offline.

Online activism is real. Personally, it was (and is) online activism that educated me on feminism and other oppressions and led to involvement in offline activism too. However, online activism shouldn’t be seen as a gateway to “real” activism – many people have no or limited access to physical protests due to disability, financial reasons, abusive partners, abusive parents, institutionalisation, the list goes on. Online activism in and of itself is a form of communicating your opinions and information to others. This is useful, and it matters. In the same breath, this (real!) communication cannot be accessed, fully or at all, by many people for the same reasons listed above, and this is an issue that we need to take seriously.

Online harassment is real. Online harassment often includes personal details that could be used offline, and can sometimes be part of a more general harassment campaign by someone known to the victim, but online harassment itself is no less real. It might seem less real to the perpetrator, because it’s easy both to do and to distance yourself from offline, but to the person on the receiving end, it is all too real, and all too scary.

Online boundaries, such as blocking, are real – and demanding people stop setting that boundary because you feel entitled to their time and energy is really creepy.

“SJWs” are real people. Many of them wouldn’t even consider themselves that much into social justice, they’re just people from at least one marginalised group talking about their life and experiences in those groups. People talking about their own experiences isn’t an online fad, it’s people talking about their own experiences. They’re just given a slightly louder voice now, very slightly more equal to that of their oppressors.

Tumblr is simply a website on which (real!) people communicate, and every community of people has its problems. But often, when people are deriding “Tumblr” (even if they’re Tumblr users themselves), they really mean “people in marginalised groups I can just ignore offline due to structural privilege, talking about their own experiences”. It’s just that “Tumblr” (as well as being less of a mouthful) sounds less bad, because we tend to see the internet as less than real. “Tumblrina” means little more than “online and female” – think about why that’s supposed to be an insult.

Trigger warnings are real accommodations for real disabilities. Just because they’re not visible in the physical world, doesn’t mean they’re not real. Seriously, are we not past that yet?

Lastly, when people tell their stories online, this isn’t a reason to dismiss them as fake any more than if they’d opened up offline. Don’t act like you would totally have believed them if they’d used offline methods when, usually, these same people aren’t believed either.

The internet is real, and we should treat it as such.

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8 responses to “The Internet Is Real

  1. thamesynne says:

    I have the same problems with online interaction as I do with face-to-face interaction. Particularly with conflict, which I simply can’t deal with at all! And with not self-censoring myself into silence.

    (So, sorry if this wasn’t a valuable contribution… my instinct remains to delete it and go away, and I’m forcing myself to pipe up anyway.)

    • Thank you – and well done for piping up!! 🙂 I’m much the same, I’m really awful with conflict. Not quite so much online as offline, because I get really overloaded by loud voices talking over each other whereas online stuff tends to be typed and silent, plus it’s easier to just turn off and walk away, but I’m still really not great at it.

      • thamesynne says:

        Unfortunately, by the time I get to the point of “no, I need to turn this off NOW and go and do something less frustrating” I’m generally already shaking and wound up, and end up remaining so for ages. I never learn… I think there’s an element of compulsiveness in there. The same thing that kept bullies coming back to me at school, because the slightest prod was guaranteed a reaction.

        Which wouldn’t be so bad if school hadn’t been done with 24 years ago…

  2. alcockell says:

    Thanks – especially when we had a Liberal Democrat Cabinet Minister tweeting “killallmen”… that means that Sarah Noble could theoretically get an armed policeman to shoot me in the head because I am XY, autistic and have a penis – summary “justice” or murder me for the crime of being born male.

    This scares me.

    • thamesynne says:

      And MRAs scare me. Now, out of white cis men and transwomen – who do YOU think lives under the constant threat of physical violence?

      Also, several facts you need to be aware of, becaue you’re clearly not:

      * Firstly, Sarah Noble is not a Lib Dem Cabinet Minister. She was, until a few days ago when the MRAs forced her out, a member of the Lib Dem executive committee – a body which has no governmental power; and given the degree to which the LD leadership ignores them, not even all that much influence.

      * Secondly, the tweets referenced by the MRAs (who laughingly call themselves “Justice for Men and Boys”, and I don’t think it’s because they’ve really internalised the degree to which being the recipients of vast measures of inherent societal privilege, advantage and positive discrimination damages men) were (a) 2 years old (September 2013), (b) clearly someone having a laugh with her mates, one of whom I know for a fact is anything but misandrist, and (c) TWO TWEETS FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE. Get some perspective!

      * Thirdly, you try living as a woman for any length of time. I promise – PROMISE, and from first-hand experience – you’ll be saying “kill all men” too. And looking in the mirror as you say it.

      * Fourthly, no cabinet minister is actually empowered to give any policeman, let alone an armed policeman, an order. The likelihood of an armed policeman shooting you in the head is basically zero, because you are white, cis and male – and mainly because you are white.

      Although admittedly, given the number of white men who commit gun crime, take hostages, and basically abuse other people, I guess it might go up a bit. And I don’t know of any research done on this, but I would hazard a guess that there’s a direct correlation between denying the privilege society confers on oneself and abusively exerting power over other people.

      * Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Being autistic is no excuse for failing to recognise the massive inherent privilege you have benefited from, undeservedly, by the amazing stroke of luck of being born cis-male.

      Sort yourself out, man.

      • alcockell says:

        Hate is hate. Bigotry is bigotry. And genocidal maniacs calling for the death of an entire demographic based on their biology belong far away from the corridors of power. Otherwise we have seen where it leads.

      • thamesynne says:

        Frustration is not hate, and venting is not bigotry, and saying something to your friend in a crowded cafe is not issuing a manifesto. And if you DARE use autism as an excuse for wilfully refusing to recognise the difference, you disgrace us all.

  3. sini@ says:

    Funny thing is they do not tell me why they are blocking me.They are supposed to.That s why I won t be posting anymore

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