I hope that I am a person who can enjoy and contribute to a healthy debate. I believe that if I do not understand or agree with someone, I would try to break down the issue to establish the heart of the matter. I hate when people make sweeping statements and are then unwilling and unable to explain them further.
Twitter çan be a useful forum for intellectual and stimulating discussion, but it can also be a platform for aggressive soundbites, close minds and collective ranting. I often read tweets where I simply despair at trying to understand if the author is fully aware of the consequences of what they are saying. And this can lead to fits of ‘twitter rage’, where my general stress and anxieties are released and focused on this stupidity my mind at that time can not compute. I am very aware this fits of rage are a bit of my mild bipolar and something I keep an eye on as a sign of my level of overall stress.
Going back to an assumption of calmness, I do like to challenge people on Twitter, especially those who I feel have flexibility in their viewpoint in a way I believe I have. When I read a tweet I find contentious, I have got into the habit of checking their profile biography before responding. If this biography appears aggressive, then bitter experience has led me to conclude that it is probably best to leave them to their rants as a rational discussion is unlikely.
When I challenge people to understand my perspective by building a pathway to my thought process, I expect them to do the same, trying to win me over to their understanding, which is always possible if my understanding of the situation is improved by the discussion. However, we live in an era where rational debate as been replaced with ‘post-truth’ and aggressive posturing. And this means the response to my challenge to their viewpoint is to insult my mental health in one or other ways.
I am not an over-sensitive person, who is used to criticism and hostile response, but I am getting concerned at even amongst other people with impairments that insulting my mental health is used as a means to discredit my viewpoint whether they are aware that I have mental health issues or not. Terms like mad, crazy, irrational and so on are used to simply close down the discussion. I have too often been told publicly that I need to ‘seek help’. And when I picked people up on their disablist insults, it is dismissed as an overreaction.
If someone communicates with me in a manner that is out of character for them, I tend to wonder if they are currently experiencing something stressful or distressing in their lives which is manifesting in the way they are discussing issues and make allowances accordingly, as well as asking if they are okay. While I may wonder if someone is experiencing difficulties with their mental health, I see it in terms of what support I could provide, not an opportunity to close down a discussion.
In an era where hate crime, bullying and other abuses towards people with impairments are supposedly receiving public recognition, why are many people with impairments, including apparent leaders against hate, are still using mental health to insult other people? I have no problem with people disagreeing with me but I find their need to discredit my sanity unnecessary. I further find it unacceptable when they say I am over-reacting about how what they have said has made me feel, which is the trick of any bully.
People demand that I take account to their ‘invisible’ impairments but when I ask for the same respect towards my own invisible impairments, I am often further insulted. It is this hypocrisy and double standards that lead me to question the credibility of ‘the disability movement’. If you are unable to clarify your viewpoint without insulting the other person’s rationality, is it really a viewpoint to be trusted?