Look Up.

Irony at its best.

Irony at its best.

The very first time this video by Gary Turk appeared on our Facebook group, the consensus was one of which “Ah this is nice, Thank you” as if to say “Thank you for the reminder”.

Whereas the second time it paid a visit, the reaction was somewhat mixed. It provoked thoughts, emotions from within and flashbacks of the past.

A member who shared their thought “He makes a lot of interesting points about the socially isolating aspects of social media and technology, which I agree with, but it is very one-sided, from his point of view. He ignores the positive aspects of it, such as how technology can improve and change people’s lives and how powerful social media can be to share and exchange information rapidly and widely and how people can feel connected and part of an online global community. Nothing will ever replace physical interaction and real-life experiences but social media, if used sensibly and well, can be a very powerful means of communication. The internet has been revolutionary for everyone.”

Another member remarked “The Internet is the best thing to happen to deaf people for centuries. For the first time ever, we can talk to one another on an equal basis with hearing people. It has been hugely empowering and that is why I get so angry when people misuse it for bullying and manipulating others. We have never had a chance before to discuss ideas that matter deeply to us on a national and international basis.”

Before the internet and mobile phones were readily available, many deaf parents had to ask their relative or child who happened to be hearing, for their assistance in making important phone calls for them, translating and so on. The first sign of freedom came in the form of pagers, receiving communication and to be reassured in my mum’s case for example:  “I’m on my way home” or “Please can I have a lift?” et cetera. Next came the internet, mobile phones and now smart phones…. Deaf people could now be more independent and sort out their own finances online, correspondence could be sent instantly and we could keep up with one another in real time. No more waiting several days for the postman and no more waiting until the next deaf pub to see friends in order to make arrangements.

Perhaps, the internet has played a part in the decline of deaf pubs – a place where masses of deaf people could commune and catch up with one another which for some, was as little as once a month. People were now able to text one another to make arrangements, use Skype or Facetime to have that crucial face to face chat. We were now on a par with the hearing society. Having access to a visual platform gives us the independence and means we very much needed.

Social media then exploded. I was very hesitant to sign up and in the beginning would only use it for family. Eventually old school friends arrived on scene and with practise came experience and confidence. One day this was quashed by a bully who thought he could manipulate me. The internet and mobile phone services gave him a confidence that he was anonymous to me from behind a screen and a mobile number. Being me, I managed to work out who he was and he fell into a trap by confirming his name. He panicked and relatively sent me death threats. Which I kept as evidence for the police who gave him a warning. Since then, I had learnt to keep most everything as evidence – just in case. I became ultra-cautious of everyone but on the other hand, I have met and made some new friends who I cherish and look forwards to making more although, I believe in quality rather than quantity.

Without the internet, many of us would not have found several of our long lost relatives and childhood friends yet without electricity, this would not have been possible.

But… There are social media groups and people who use social media (in other words is just a platform for them to use) who abuse the guidelines which are there for a reason – to protect the users and the members. Dangerously, the delusions of grandeur and power trips which feed their ego and their characters determine their fate because with actions comes consequences. It is only those who can remain true to themselves and retain a level head that will in time see past the falseness, the drama and people’s manipulative ways, succeed due to experience and honesty – which is the best policy.

For most, the internet has its pros and cons. The cons of which I have mentioned and conclude the internet is a very dangerous place indeed. It has at one point managed to destroy my heart and soul but here comes the pros because as always there is a balance – it has also saved me from disconnecting with my family and friends, some of whom have proved very inspirational to me and are the main reasons behind why the Tree House was built and especially why, it keeps on growing stronger. Healing my heart and soul with love and laughter.

In order to get the best you deserve, you need to give your best otherwise you will get what you give. Fate works in mysterious ways and decrees what we do, who we are and teaches us how to be so “Look Up”, find the balance and enjoy life – it is what you make it.

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

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5 thoughts on “Look Up.

  1. You would be a fool to ignore the impact f social media (I am one!), but it is no substitute for real face to face, and can only encourage isolation and more anonymity in people, and justify the fact you are sitting in some darkened room on your own pretending to be a member of a community you have never met or interacted with personally ! People polarise and form clique’s very quickly, if you allow that to happen you are done for, it destroyed ‘Deaf’ sites and forums, zeroed clubs and pub meets. At the first power cut or flat battery, a lot of people will find out they are sitting on their own facing a blank screen, maybe then it will hit home. Fact: NO campaign for deaf has ever succeeded on social media. NO feet on the streets has ever been organised since 1995 either, and any social media dedicated to real campaigning will find no-one wants to ‘follow’ them, insistent campaigners get blanked. Petitions are a waste of time, since only 100,000 contributors will get a look in, and the respective HI/Deaf communities could only muster less than 50 for a BSL act. You’d get more for a dog with a bad leg or something. Social media exists via whims, and trivia. A pretty poor reflection I would have thought on the abilities and capabilities of people. People shy away from the confrontations issues brings. This means TreeHouse cannot succeed in unifying people either, if you take away comments and input NOT about the issues that confront us, it would look pretty bare.To get progress you have to be single-minded about things, and indeed not rely on social interaction via a computer or iphone to replace face to face. Worshiping social media may well be a huge error, I’m equally sure no-one will take the least interest in that.

    • Hi Mervyn, thanks for your comment. It was definitely food for thought. I don’t think social media can replace face to face interaction either, especially not for campaigning. It is a necessary thing in this age of social media and viral campaigns though. When harnessed well it can be powerful. Some of our members have commented that the Tree House has helped them feel less isolated and we have already had a few meet ups, and it has been empowering to meet each other and discuss the direction of the group and campaigns in person. The strength of a campaign and projects that people get involved in is only as strong as the people willing to give their time and energy to something. I disagree that social media, petitions and other such campaigns are a waste of time – for example, look at the success of Stephanie McDermid’s LOVEFiLM petition and the campaigning that people did around that. There was a response from Amazon about rolling out subtitles.

      The Tree House has a pan-deaf/HOH approach, this seems to be working so far in uniting people who want to make a difference. I know that you might find it hard to believe that a campaign involving everyone could work, but it’s early days of the group and we are looking into lots of different ways to get people participating. Maybe I’m a naive generation-Y social-media person, but it has helped me so much – both in terms of confidence as a deaf writer and in meeting (face-to-face!) people who have changed my life for the better, such as those I have met through the Tree House and Deaf Unity. Uniting people is possible. I think it’s hard to change entrenched mind-sets of people and to encourage a more open and less combative approach to communication, but so far it seems to be working. Each to their own – I understand what you are saying, but I still have hope.

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