Disabilities & Chronic Illness : Swept Under the Rug

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So last month a few articles broke and were shared on social media. I found it first on The Mighty. (If you haven’t checked out The Mighty, please do!) I read it and shared it but got virtually no response by anyone who is “healthy”.

How Social Media Monitoring Would Harm People on Disability Benefits

It also made other sites, but it wasn’t readily seen on Facebook, Twitter and the like, not like the Kardashians or Trump.

U.S. Government Wants to Use Social Media to Decide Who Is ‘Disabled Enough’ for Disability Benefits

However, Forbes picked up the story, and republished it about a month later. Better late than never I guess.

How A Trump Proposal Could Reduce ‘Happy’ Disabled People

Now before going on, I do ask that you actually read the above article, that way you’ll see the point of this blog entry, and why I’m so irritated. Either way, the sum of the article is that it has been proposed to monitor the social media of people who receive disability benefits from Social Security.

All of the articles I posted are very nice, and point out the downfalls of why it’s a horrible idea to judge whether or not someone is sick or disabled based off of their social media. Ie: Cutting someone’s benefits off because of a smiling selfie, or family vacation photos. It’s very hard to post “sick” pictures on social media. I’ve been chronically ill for almost 12 years now, and I can count on my hands how many pictures I’ve posted while I was sick. It’s hard to show your vurnerability on the internet. Instead we post pictures of us smiling, doing the things we are able to do, pretending.. we are healthy, or in the very least drawing attention away from the very things that plague us. Anyway.

Unfortunately how I found this article was not in a way that I liked.

Disclaimer: I believe that every honorably discharged veteran deserves any retirement, healthcare or disability they have earned. I also believe the VA needs vast improvement, and that the Trump Adminstration has stated shameful things re: veterans & VA disability. This blog is NOT to defame veterans who receive disability benefits through the VA or SSI. 

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Now Dylan Park is a veteran, and an activist who has spoken out for and against some very worthy causes. He has quite the following on Twitter, as well as pretty much anywhere liberal or veteran related.

However. When he saw an article that was relating to SSI and every day disabled citizens, he took it upon himself to use his platform not for voicing how dispicable the Trump Adminstration’s proposal is for disabled persons, nor how disabled or chronically ill people face many obstacles in trying to receive their disability payments.

He instead misconstrued the article in many tweets to say that the adminstration is doing as the article says but to veterans regarding their VA disability payments and pensions. Which while the first is simply untrue, pensions aren’t altered by your health. Maybe he meant payments? Or benefits? Either way. None of which, nor the VA or veterans for that matter is brought up in the article.

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Again, I’m not arguing that Veterans do not deserve disability from the VA regardless of the percentage, nor am I arguing against veterans who get SSI. I’m arguing that you shouldn’t use your platform to steal what little awareness of an issue disabled persons, every day citizens who have not served, have to face and potentially will have to face when they are applying for or being reviewed on SSI.

I commented on the thread pointing out that it wasn’t about the VA or Veterans but rather SSI, and beyond two responses from random people, everyone just kept commenting things along the lines of “Trump doesn’t care about vets!” or “Respect veterans!!” Nor has he even revised his original statement, because he’s getting his Twitter fame. As of right now that thread has been favorited 9.8k times and retweeted 8k times.

The problem with that, is not only that he has stolen awareness from the chronically ill and disabled, but he is pointing the finger at the Trump Administration using an unrelated article. He is making an accusation with no sources. He is spreading fake news. Fake News. He is living up to what the Trump Supporters chant, and feeding into it the longer he doesn’t correct his statements and continue using his platform to misdirect all of his followers.

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I guess I’m just disgusted. The proposal by this administration has been weighing on my mind as eventually it’s something that I will have to face. Like a lot of other ill people, I’ve been told “You don’t look sick” or “should you be doing that? I thought you were sick.” and I don’t want the government deciding how sick I am based off of selfies. I’m disgusted that someone who is priveledged enough to have such a large platform is using it to spread misinformation and generally ignore that actual issue the article is about.

I’m sure I’ll catch some flak for this post, as I will my posts on Twitter.. but I write for and speak out for people who are sick. I write for people who are chronically ill, and I write for my own struggle with my health. When I saw this parroted over Facebook and Twitter, it bothered me enough to write about it.

Hopefully I’ll be able to update with a correction of mentioned tweet, but I’m doubting it. Disabled persons & the chronically ill tend to be just swept under the rug.

 

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