Disabled Online Interactions | ft. Snapple and Cats!

Video: https://youtu.be/Tw1R28bMFqg

Collab time! Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. Obviously, today’s a collab. I’m doing it with Jaleesa, or as she’s known on YouTube, Snapple and Cats! She has Tourette’s, TS for short. We were talking, and we decided we wanted to do a collab based on our disabilities and how people interact with us, online versus in physical life. This will be the online interactions. On her channel, in physical life interactions. I will link that here (when it’s up). From now on, it will be more or less a transcript of the video.

  1. How do people react online when you tell them you’re disabled?

Jaleesa: I think most of the time, when I tell someone that I have TS, they don’t really know what that means. And most people don’t ask, which is weird. It’s very different in public. A lot of the time, I don’t tell people unless if it’s relevant to the conversation. Or… If I want to talk about that. But… Most people online just accept it. Not many people ask questions, that’s a little bit disappointing. Because I want to educate people. If I’m typing in a Facebook group, or something like that, people can’t really see my tics so… I don’t know, I guess that most people aren’t that interested.

Rogan: Most of the time, I don’t really need to them, because it’s pretty obvious on my profiles. It has “Deaf” on it somewhere, so… But most of the time, if we’re chatting, I ask them, “You do know that I’m deaf right?” They usually say, “Oh really? Okay, cool.” That’s it. Sometimes, I will get, “Oh I’m sorry.” I’m like, sorry for what? I don’t need your pity. I’m just letting you know of the fact that I’m deaf, that’s all.

J: Now, on my YouTube, things are a little bit different. Peoples’ responses vary a lot. Like in public, because they can see me. They can see my disability. And… There’s more variety of people on my YouTube than in a Facebook group. So it’s interesting in the comments. I think most of the comments I get are actually really good. Very encouraging, happy comments. People tell me they learned something from my video. I have some trolls. Yeah. I really don’t care right now because most of what my trolls say is really dumb. Sometimes, I read all of my troll comments for a laugh. Like, it doesn’t hurt me. I know they’re really ignorant people so… I don’t care what they think.

R: I tend to not really need to tell them because one, my YouTube makes it pretty obvious. I’m signing, my profile is labeled with deaf. And Twitter, Facebook, I have deaf in my bio. So… People should know. If you don’t, how you don’t know, I don’t know.

2. Do people forget that you’re disabled? How do they react when you remind them?

J: I don’t know, really. I don’t know what people think. I think I talk about my disability so much, my disability is a big part of my life. Most people don’t forget. I think they forget the specific things about my disability. Like, people forget that it’s hard for me to go shopping. But other than that, it doesn’t come up much. That, and I think most people I talk to online either know me, or they’re in a group for other disabled people or they know my YouTube. So I don’t think anybody forgets.

R: Yes, sometimes. Like Twitter or Facebook, somehow we connect on there. We chat and such, become friends eventually. Then sometimes they’ll say something maybe about music, or about, I don’t know, a movie or… I don’t know. And I’m like, “Remember, I’m deaf?” “Oh right! Sorry, I forgot about that.” Because online, my deafness is not visible. In chat, or Twitter, things like that when it’s only text, my disability is not visible. So people forget easily–it’s easy to forget, yes. Annoying, but it happens. On YouTube… I’m not sure how you could forget that I’m deaf. I just want to say: If you do forget that I am disabled, it’s okay. It happens. Just don’t make a big deal out of it. Say sorry and move on. Don’t go, “OH I’M SO SORRY I DIDN’T MEAN TO.” Don’t make a big deal out of it. Just. Sorry, I didn’t mean to forget. Move on. When you make a big deal out of it, that kind of makes it worse. So… Don’t.

3. How do you decide when to disclose your disability online?

J: I don’t know. *laughs* That’s something I’ve thought about a lot recently. Because I think, I don’t know if I will do this, but I think what if I want to do something like online dating? That, when it’s that kind of thing, it becomes complicated. It’s difficult to know. If I don’t know someone and I’m typing in a Facebook group, I don’t care. I mention it when it’s relevant to the conversation. You know, for some reason, online… I don’t care who knows and who doesn’t. Because I don’t know these people. But of course, if I try online dating, that would be very different. And I don’t know the answer to that yet. Because in public, everyone can see my disability. I can’t choose if I tell people I’m disabled or not. You know? But online, I have that choice. That’s difficult to know the answer. I wish I had the answer. If anyone wants to tell me what they do, I’ll be happy to hear that.

R: Like I said, it’s really obvious. Though if it’s on dating apps, I don’t really use them, but IF I happen to use it… I tend to tell them right away, upfront. I’m proud of being deaf. I’m not going to hide it online. I have no reason to hide it. Sometimes I’ll be talking and be, “Oh yeah, by the way, I haven’t mentioned it, I’m deaf. Just so you know.” Most of the time, I do tell them upfront. If like, we’re talking about what we do, or what school we went to… Or whatever. I will often try to find a way to “casually” mention that I’m deaf as part of the conversation. I don’t like, “Hey! I’m deaf,” first thing. No, I don’t do that. I will say it if it comes up at an appropriate time in the conversation. But generally, people know.

4. Because of the ability to decide when or when not to disclose your disability, do you feel more confident online than in physical life?

R: Hmm. Well, like I said, it’s really obvious online, I say it almost everywhere that I’m deaf. But… I do have more confidence online because I can actually talk with anybody online. In physical life, I have to use my phone, or gesture, or…not. Well, I said not because sometimes people just shut down and don’t want to try and figure out how to communicate. So…those people, I just give up on. I’m not going to try. But, the point is, I guess you could say that I do feel more confident online because I can talk with people that I wouldn’t normally be able to talk to in physical life. A good example: YouTube. I have a lot of YouTube friends. A lot of them don’t know ASL. They don’t really need to because… All of my videos have captions. We talk through the comments. It’s not that I don’t feel confident in physical life, but communication specifically. Communication is a lot easier for me online than in physical life. That is, if I’m interacting with hearing people. If it’s deaf people (signers in general actually), it doesn’t matter–online or in physical life.

J: Yeah, that’s an easy one. Because people don’t judge me online much. They can’t see my tics. I guess it’s more about my personality. When I’m online, I’m just like everyone else. And because people don’t know me really. And I…have the power to block them. *chuckles* I don’t care if they’re rude about my disability. And it is better when I can choose when to tell people. It gives me a lot more power and control over the situation. I don’t need to tell everyone about my medical diagnosis if I don’t want to. If I want to, I can. But I don’t NEED to. That’s really awesome about the internet.

So that’s all for today. I know this was a little bit long, but that’s what happens with collabs. I want to thank Jaleesa for joining me today, and make sure you go to her channel to watch the video and her other stuff! If you want to add to this conversation, go ahead and comment on the linked video at the beginning of this post, and on her video as well. Thanks for sticking with us through this whole post/video!

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Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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