Put your phones away

Here’s a modern brain exercise. I wonder if you can pull it off. All you have to do is walk down a busy street WITHOUT checking your mobile phone. Tricky, right?

Yeah, mobile phones. I can’t use them, and this gladdens me. It’s like being a skeptic in a world where the majority  follow one fantasy or another (imagine that). Everyone seems happy with a life of texts and notifications, and it is fun. I have an iPad which I now use more than my computer or my TV, but I’d never want to take it outdoors with me.

People annoy me even more thanks to the spread of the mobile phone. Why look others in the eye when you can swerve into them on a street corner while you text your friend about how much you hate your other friend? Why take in the lovely view from the hill when you can sit on the grass and slam angry birds against a cartoon concrete instead?

It’s worst at the cinema. Five minutes into the feature, the guy next to me starts texting. Fifteen minutes later he checks the time. In another five minutes he’ll send another text. Half an hour through he’ll check the time again. Firstly I don’t understand why you need to know the time during a film. Whenever I watch something long, something I want to become lost in, I cover up all nearby clocks because there’s nothing that can bring you into reality quicker than knowing how far you’ve made it through a film. If you’re in a rush or need to be somewhere after the film, here’s an idea: check the film’s duration before you buy the ticket. Secondly, how do you relate to or a film character when your mind’s half-absorbed on answering your friend’s latest question in your 5,000 word WhatsApp exchange?

Conversations and mobile phones. This is an interesting one. I think face-to-face conversations can work OK with a mobile nearby, so long as the phone is just used to add to or bring up a relevant thread of discussion.

‘Here’s a video of puppies. Do you like puppies?’ = Good.

‘I’ll get back to you in a minute, let me just finish surfing lemonparty.com.’ = Bad.

I don’t know. I’m not really that bothered about mobiles, I’m just searching for some new topics to address. I might start a new series of posts titled: ‘If I don’t do it then nobody else should.’

Let’s get rid of steps already

Steps and stairways. Who needs them? What are they good for? Nothing. Stairways are just ramps for wimps, the type of people who choose a golf cart over using their legs. Do we really want such people inside our buildings? Say overnight we paved over every public stairway in the country. People would moan for a bit but the majority would get on with it. Can’t manage a 90 degree ramp? Buy better-grip shoes. Better yet, just give up on life already. So long as wheelchairs have access to buildings, that’s all that matters.

This is meant to hint at how it feels to discover that a club or place you really want to go to doesn’t have appropriate access for your wheelchair. You email the company and they go, ‘We’re fixing the lift.’ Three months later you get the same reply. On top of this the club has started booking some of your favourite acts on a regular basis, and every time you pass the place you see another poster that stirs your interests.

You know they’ll never fix the available lift. Why? Because only you and a handful of others need it. Supply and demand, baby. What’s the point of building or fixing a revolving door when you know 95% of your customers are prone to traumatic dizzy spells? Fuck the 5%.

And this is in the UK where it’s law that all public buildings have to have good access for wheelchair users. It’s still a bigger risk for struggling companies to spend money on building a lift or ramp than to do nothing, apparently.

I no longer care about the building in question. I got over it a while back. You can ignore the posters, and if your love for a musician is that big you’ll have no problem traveling further to see them in action. It just blows my mind how many nibbling issues like this still exist, and you either learn to accept them or spend your twenties and latter years bitching and moaning, and I don’t want to spend my twenties bitching about first-world disability issues that I lack the energy to change (he says, on a blog in which he can’t think of anything positive to discuss).

Ooh look, all the disabled spaces are filled with sports cars with fraudulent disabled badges. Good. Fuck it.

The toilets are upstairs in this liftless pub? No problem, I’ll just have to piss into a sock again.

You have to remember that thirty years ago disabled people were so feared that they were hidden or sent away to secretive centres. Be thankful and all that. Seriously, my timing and location of birth was pretty flawless. I could’ve been born in medieval times only to be dumped into a river minutes into life (probably). Or I could’ve been born right now in ISIS territory, where disability equals terrible sin and you can guess the rest.

From lifts to ISIS in under 500 words. You’re welcome.

Re: Huffington Post’s “beautifuly touching” picture

The article

So a McDonald’s worker helped a disabled man by feeding him his food. Good job, Mr He. It’s a nice act, but whenever acts of kindness mix with disability, reporters spoil the moment by writing about it.

The reporter’s big mistake – apart from the article’s title – was featuring creepy diner woman Li Ting, witness to the event. Did she even get permission for that photo? She seems the type of person who’d insist on taking a photo regardless of the answer. Mr He doesn’t exactly seem thrilled in the photo and for all we know the disabled man just wants to eat his damn food.

‘People like this in society are running out.’

I hate Li already. We all have that friend who keeps mourning the loss of the good ol’ days, when everyone fed each other burgers whether you were disabled or not. I remember back in ’96 you’d only have to leave your front door and passing strangers were tossing chips into your mouth – the good ol’ days. Kind people will never run out, just as assholes will never run out. Most of us function sometimes with the heart and sometimes the asshole.

‘He was very loving towards [the customer] and patient when he helped him to bite the burger.’

Maybe this is a bad translation from the original Mandarin, but I can’t replace the image of the poor customer needing to be taught how to consume basic food. Unless He really did help him bite the burger by manipulating the customer’s jaw. She goes on to say:

‘Thank you for helping him to eat a full meal so he can continue with his life.’

No. Thank you, Li. Because I’m sure the unnamed disabled guy didn’t think to thank He himself. His life depended on one man that day and He delivered.

I like to imagine Li misread the whole situation. Disabled man was really holding He at gunpoint, sick of asking to be fed week in, week out and hearing ‘I’m busy cleaning toilets’ as the response. Either that or He wanted to look good near the new blonde manager – disabled man actually resents any sort of assistance. Nah, a manager wouldn’t approve of such an action from a business perspective, so there’s that.

It was probably just a sweet gesture, although if He did nothing to help would he now be considered an asshole? You have to be careful when interacting with disabled people because by the end of the exchange you’re either going to be Prince Charming or President Putin. It might’ve been a trickier decision if He was specifically told to ‘stop working and feed me’: who would dare say no? And now for the question nobody will ask because who cares about passive disabled man: if the customer can’t feed himself, why did he go to the restaurant alone in the first place? It’s an interesting question that may have an interesting answer, but we’ll never know because it doesn’t matter what the disabled person thinks in this article. We only care that disabled guy was taken care of.

I’m not taking anything away from the deed here, it’s just an odd thing to report especially when the two main people involved aren’t around to discuss it. I do like referring to the worker as “He”, though. Don’t they have name badges? Maybe it was God who fed the customer: ‘He asked him to wait upstairs.’ Hang on, did the customer ever exit the restaurant? Maybe he’s still upstairs, chewing on an infinite Big Mac.

If you’re wondering what I aim to achieve by bitching about this mediocre article, welcome to the club. I guess it’s to do with the fact that the witness comes across as the real hero here. Li was the one who took the dodgy picture, who spread the news. It sounds like the writer didn’t bother clarifying He’s view on having his face over the Internet, and as for mysterious disabled guy – who cares? Why wouldn’t he want this private moment shared with potentially millions of people? Next time somebody holds the door open for me, I’ll thank them by taking their photo with my handheld perv-cam and posting it on my very public Facebook. They’ll be grateful, I’m sure.

Sometimes it feels as if newspapers treat disability as a guaranteed sell. If the story contains a disabled person and an act of kindness, the readers will be happy. And this makes sense. But I do wish reporters would challenge general assumptions within their articles. Assumptions I’ve already examined include being perceived as innocent and cute because you’re disabled, having low or no intelligence, disability as an unbearable misery. And this doesn’t have to be in-your-face stuff. All we know about the disabled guy in this article is that he struggles a lot. OK, but what other information do you have? Did he at least appreciate the assistance? Did he want this event publicised? Did he and He get along well? This is the irony with mainstream media – they love those who say they don’t let their disability define them (whatever that means), then they publish countless pieces wherein the disabled person has all the definition of the new disabled Lego figure.

Talk to customer and worker, give us their views, get their names and confirm that they’re both OK with the photo – then you’ll have a mildly uplifting, less creepy article.

No, I won’t tweet your ad

TV adverts are getting worse thanks to social media. It’s not social media’s fault, Twitter and Facebook just highlight how eager people are to discuss and associate themselves with brands. Before you’d just hear about an advert at school.
‘Hey, have you seen that advert where those guys shout at each other through a phone?’
‘Yeah.’
‘Funny, isn’t it?’
‘It’s OK.’
‘They’re meant to be ordering food but instead they dick around with their friends. It’s hilarious.’
‘It’s OK.’
Now everything on TV has a hashtag on it. I avoid Twitter whenever a big ad campaign comes out. It’s usually from a brand who could live off word-of-mouth for at least a hundred more years. It doesn’t need anymore adverts. Yet there’s the hashtags. #talkaboutus. #telltheworldhowgreatweare.
I’d rather they just tell us to print out their logo and stick it on a wall of your choice. Graffiti it over with a ‘You suck’ if you want, create a bit of controversy for us. So I avoid Twitter because I’d rather not know how many people are actively dissecting these shallow, boastful one-minute clips from often child-whipping brands, or buying tattoos professing their eternal love for a product in the hopes of winning a free cup.
‘We want to see photos of you enjoying our product.’ Give me £3,000 and I’ll post a pic of it wedged up my ass.
Recently there’s been this trend where every Christmas each of the big UK supermarkets have a competition: who can create the most discussed advert? It’s hidden behind the idea of art and emotion. Marks and Spencer’s is aiming to move the masses into changing their actions for the better, so long as you remember that it was Marks & Spencer’s who gave you the idea in the first place. Here’s a lonely old man. Isn’t that sad? Boo-hoo. NOW BUY SOMETHING FOR HIM, IT’S THE ONLY WAY FORWARD.
I have never cried over an advert and probably never will. No matter how intimate the story, no matter how much thought and craftsmanship has been invested into the camera shots and whatnot, you’re never going to disguise the fact that this video exists to attract consumers to a big building. The only adverts that have come close to affecting me are charity ads, just because it makes sense that they’d be pointing out world issues. I fear that in fifty years time we’ll be relying solely on adverts for moral guidance. B&Q believes that if everyone owned a quality drill there’d be world peace: tweet and help change the world.