Saturday, July 16, 2011

An Ugly Place

The internet can be a really ugly place.  Most of the time for me, it's for research, friends, meeting people, and sharing experiences.  Ok, I admit there is also a piece there for time wasting funny sites and games, but mostly I use the internet constructively.  So when a Mom I know from a support group was upset at the treatment her child received when he attempted to enter a store using his walker at a business near her, many of the group members were upset in turn.

A news station local to this person picked up the story and ran it on the news and their website.  Websites are open to comments.  Sadly, a lot of these comments were either intentionally mean or really ignorant.  When I voiced my opinions, a person claiming to be a relative of the business owner actually blamed me for my son's Spina Bifida, saying that according to other sites I have, I drank and did drugs and it was probably an unplanned pregnancy.  While that is certainly not true, I couldn't believe someone I don't even know could be so upset by my opposing opinions on the internet that they would lash out so personally.

It seemed impossible to me that people were getting so vicious regarding what I see as a clear cut issue and regarding a child.  How can people NOT understand this is discrimination?  My point of view is up close and personal so I took a step back... am I being overly sensitive about it?  The conclusion I came to is that no, I'm not.  ADA guidelines require businesses to be accessible to people with disabilities, it's Federal Law.

Then I realized that I'll be facing this sort of attitude on my son's behalf for a long time, but he'll face it for the rest of his life.  I'm profoundly saddened at the thought.  He's a sweet, lovable baby right now and with a lot of work and a little luck, I hope to see him grow into a bright young man of good character.  But there will always be people who will think of him as "less than" a person.  Those people are wrong, their attitudes stink, and a little education, if they are willing, would go a long way.  That won't always be an option, I understand that.  It's unfortunate that so many are comfortable with their closed minds and ignorance.

While the experience has led me to realize that anything can be taken out of context, some people are just jerks, and being open leaves you exposed to those jerks.  I'm thankful for the thick skin I'm developing, but I think I'll lay off the comment boards for news stories as I've found that the loudest voices there are the ones with the most tightly shut minds.