The issue is that Deaf depend on technology to communicate + connect with hearing people. Therefore, Deaf need Facebook more than hearing people. Consequently, the rules should be different for Deaf- it’s called Disability Accommodation. We don’t tell people in wheelchairs to use the stairs, do we? No. We have ramps. Facebook is like a ramp, helping Deaf be mobile with communication. Facebook is the modern hearing aid, helping us know what is happening in the world.
How can Deaf ‘know’ people, like hearing people, for whom it is so easy to meet each other on the street or neighborhood first, then they can ‘friend’ on Facebook. Deaf don’t know people the same way hearies know people- we depend on technology to know first, so we shouldn’t be held to the same standard of ‘knowing’ before ‘friending’. The current Facebook policy of ‘know before friend’ is like telling Deaf people we need to hear someone first before we can wear hearing aids to then be friends with them. Hearing people designed the Facebook policy. I understand it is to prevent spam, but the machine should serve people. As it stands, with the power of Facebook as modern day telephone, this new system subordinates people to the machines programming. It is inhumane to demand Deaf to know before friend because we need the damn technology (be it hearing aids, or now Facebook) to know in the first place! Dig?
Now, I also understand that Facebook can’t just change its friend invite policy just for Deaf people. would they require an audiogram in order to bypass? Seriously. I know. All you people who say Facebook does not discriminate against the Deaf are missing the point. Im not saying Facebook actively singling us out. No! By no means! Understand when I say that! I know! The deal is that Facebook is a representative microcosm of the whole dysconscious Audist structure created by dominant hearing culture. In the same way that everyday people get mad at me when I don’t hear them, now Facebook suspends my friend request ability. Facebook is mad at me for not communicating according to the standards designed by hearing people. Make sense?
Sexual Harassment in the workplace is defined as occurring based on how the victim feels, not the intent of the harasser. Likewise, discrimination is the same. How I feel is what is real, for me, and I know others feel the same. Hearing people can’t deny me how I feel. You don’t have the right to tell me how I feel is wrong. Do you tell women they are wrong to feel exploited? Or blacks they are wrong when they feel they have been subjected to racist attitudes? Or gay people when treated unfairly? No. Deaf, too, suffer- but we suffer on a communication level. And Facebook is a communication tool. Why adhere to a policy about communication rules when I have communication ‘disability’? I goes deeper. It is systemic. Time is nigh to educate society and end the ignorance surrounding how Deaf people feel. When Facebook suspended my friending, I felt my communication channel was cut, and so I get to decide if it was discrimination or harassment. Im tired of hearing people defining my reality! I have a right to legitimate + validate my feelings.
Facebook was the first tool whereby I was able to connect with other Deaf. Until Facebook, Deaf have been kept apart by LAW- if you don’t believe me- google the fact that we have been banned from using sign language, marrying each other, owning property, driving, etc. AGBell caused Deaf people to assimilate + mainstream but his method was epistemically violent because integration required destruction of self-knowledge of Deaf Identity, culture, and language. So, I feel it in my bones, the history of the Deaf being what it is, has residual carry-over into modern day information age that disallows Deaf to meet + communicate on our terms. Facebook says we are supposed to know each other first?
Do you see where this all comes together? Society has kept us apart and the tradition continues, just in another form. Just like slavery has gone from the cotton fields to cheap prison labor, discrimination of Deaf is now manifest in Facebook. We were banned from sign language, and now we are banned from communicating on Facebook. Sure we can join groups and send messages but thats like saying you can use voice phone but not text. Know before Friend? That is discrimination against Deaf because we don’t communicate on that same hearing paradigm.
Im not saying Facebook should let Deaf people friend before we/they ‘know’ people- Im saying it represents dominant culture assumptions about the due process of human social interaction that is Audist in its essence, albeit dysconscious.
To say the Facebook policy is for hearing AND Deaf is like saying these stairs are for walking AND wheelchairs. It doesn’t compute. Transport/mobility accommodations are accepted, yet even in modern information age, communication accommodations are still neglected. Consider Netflix, who demands customer service be conducted on voice phone, not email, and how they won’t caption unless forced by law. Historically, the Deaf have always been told by hearing people how to communciate… now Facebook is doing it.
Its all just semantics and metaphors anyway. Group, then message, then friend request? What is ‘know’? What is ‘meet’? Especially in age of internet. Deaf have always used assistive devices to ‘meet’. Again, I understand. It is like this game, and the issue we have is with spammers, and the Deaf are collateral damage. This is why I am going to be on Google Plus more because they don’t limit my circles. It is based on passions and interests, rather than who you knew in high school.
I want to end with a quote from “Deaf Subjects (Cultural Front)” by Brenda Jo Brueggemann, location 393 on Kindle: “And why are such devices, when used to aid the deafened ear, commonly referred to as “assistive” or “adaptive” technologies when, after all, technology/ies are- by the very nature of the definition of the term- assistive and adaptive to begin with? Why is it, for example, that a Blackberry in the hands of a hearing person suddenly sheds its adaptive or assistive skin and becomes instead just another device to fill up one’s airport or driving time or conduct one’s business incessantly?” So, in a sense, Facebook is an ‘assistive device’.
Please comment and share this post. Thanks. Also, here is part one of this article.