The practices within personal digital media concepts create a digital space that is primarily safe of unsolicited bias for many as long as digital space and media remain accessible to the public.
Within the realm of visual social media, an individual, regardless of the limit in one’s ability, is allowed the right of authentic self-representation. Media is adapting beyond textual and visual uses, which means the media sphere is ever-evolving to meet individual needs. In a way, we’re seeing media that can genuinely account for the many aspects of people’s identities, which are also ever-evolving in a similar sense. In our current year of 2020 alone, the amount of media outlets disposable on a global scale is immense, with numerous user personalization capabilities. This increase of capabilities is inclusive to those with disabilities rather than exclusive, as most of society might believe. Technological advances have allowed for progress in increasing access to social media to a wide variety of individuals with disabilities. For example, websites such as Usabilitygeek.com and Inclusivecitymaker.com offer a list of resources for individuals with a wide range of disabilities.
Visual social media plays the paradigm of both regarding how in its capabilities, seen within apps such as Instagram and Twitter, to name a few, have allowed the public to represent their respective social groups and their vices/ opinions fairly. Meaning that the power to change definitions within one’s visual media use actively helps reflect and create concepts of belonging and potentially helps connect and create social groups via the internet. This sense of belonging and community within visual media is how the integration of changing the societal view on concepts of disability begins.
However, this understanding of media leads to another aspect of encompassed duties, assisting in coping. A majority of visual and verbal coping techniques that are usually present in media is through humor. The use of humor as a coping mechanism has been of use for centuries, and in a way, helping us as human beings to frame and make light of a situation based on how we perceive what is happening around us and create a sense of belonging. This factor of belonging is essential when we consider how media plays in the lives of those with physical or mental disabilities in particular. Coping through humor can become an important tool for building confidence, and confidence in the community of those with disabilities potentially increases the volume of visual media as a significant benefit to those looking for ways of manifesting the thoughts, values, and ideas to those close and the general public at times.
Stigma is an ugly but common factor that this world has seen based on bias and misunderstanding. Visual social media opens the door to change these definitions for oneself and for anyone to take those first few steps to create a better space of representation through the lens of the individual experiencing the quoted disability. Through media, we see a normalization of acceptance and a gateway that can integrate critical aspects within many lives, including those with disabilities, to display and foster self-interpretation methods. These practices within personal digital media concepts create a digital space that is primarily safe of unsolicited bias for many as long as digital space and media remain accessible to the public.
by Spenser Staggers-Elmore
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