Public Shaming – Shifting Perspectives

Public Shaming – Shifting Perspectives

Public Shaming – Shifting Perspectives
Is Social Media the best method in which to raise awareness? appa looks into a recent case of mistaken perception and the immediate negative implications it can have for disabled and Deaf people in the wrong hands.

You may have seen the news this week when a well-known rapper, ‘50 Cent’ posted a video of airport worker Andrew Farrell on Instagram. In the video he made comments on and ridiculed Andrew’s behaviour who he perceived as being under the influence of drugs. Only later finding out Andrew was not high, but was going about his daily work whilst managing the effects of diagnosed autism, a social anxiety disorder and a hearing impairment.

50 Cent I suspect would not have posted such a video had he known about Andrew’s condition, or perhaps he would, I don’t know so him so I can’t tell. Certainly in his video he made no mention of disabilities and was insulting Andrew for what he believed were Andrews personal choices. The media sensationalised it as if it was a deliberate act of ‘bashing the disabled’ and, I suspect, would have said nothing or congratulated 50 Cent if his perception was right and Andrew was high as a kite.

As a celebrity, social media is used constantly, it’s the lifeblood for the current celebrity lifestyle fuelling their exposure and fame. They know what to expect and even have people to handle negative publicity for them. But what if you’re an every day person like Andrew? The sad reality is that Andrew probably puts up with ill-informed and ignorant people all the time. It’s a testament to him for working in such a public domain, it shows his character and determination to not allow a disability to affect that.

There are serious questions we can ask in general about such public shaming. Should we have the rights to privacy and anonymity, even in public places? Should we be able to go about our daily business acting lawfully without the fear of having our image spread across the internet?But what can we actually learn from this?

50 Cent learnt that not all young people go to work on drugs, even if they exhibit signs of being high. He learned that symptoms of autism are varied and don’t preclude the individual from doing an honest day’s work.

Did you reflect on how you reacted when you first saw the clip? Now knowing what you do, which is only a snap-shot of autism, how do you feel? What would you do differently? Are there other symptoms we should look out for, and not just for the sake of pity. Andrew wasn’t working in a public place for pity, but to make his way in the world.

Are you readily accepting of others? Do you look at someone slurring and think it’s a bit early for alcohol, or do you consider the back story? Is that person managing strong medication to combat a disability symptom that prevents them working? Could it be they would rather deal with the medication than be excluded from working and earning their own money?

You may have already carried out some research, but to help you shift perspectives we’ve created a simple chart with some disability characteristics you might never had heard of, just to give you a more informed perspective on fellow beings:

Behaviour / Characteristic Perspective Potential Reality
Slurring speech Could’ve been drinking, might be having a stroke Cerebral palsy, can affect speech as well as physical and cognitive function
Ignoring you Rude person, ignorant person Deaf is often labelled the hidden disability, as until you are facing the person and they tell you, it’s hard to know who is and isn’t Deaf
Shouting intermittently Laddish behaviour Tourette’s can cause a person to involuntarily call out when feeling under pressure, stressed or focused
Strong body odour Person hasn’t washed Severe Dermatitis can create body odour which is hard to mask, as it can be all over the body


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