Well, it appears to be my lot in life, at least lately, to rain on parades.
Maybe I should quit reading Twitter, because that, again, is where this all started. I came across this article, and I was interested to see just what these advantages might be. Sure, I wouldn’t say blindness is horrible, and there are advantages to be had in everything.
Unfortunately, the advantages listed here aren’t, at least to my mind, advantages at all. Most of them are perceptions I see as actually harmful to our struggle for equal treatment and equal status.
I suppose it’s possible that I’ve had my sense of humor amputated. Read the article for yourself, and have a look at my thoughts below. You be the judge.
I hasten to add that I bear no ill will toward Max. I actually like Max and respect his achievements. He’s done a lot of interesting things. It isn’t everyone who brokers deals on amusement park rides, after all, among other things. I certainly hope Max doesn’t take my comments too personally.
OK, here we go.
16 Benefits of Being Blind
1. You don’t get asked to help people move.
You also don’t get asked to do much of anything else. Because apparently, there’s some disconnect between eyeballs and muscles involved in carrying and toting, at least as far as moving goes. The extension to not being asked to help move, or really much of anything else, is that it can make a fella feel kind of useless. When your job is to “Sit over there out of the way”, that’s hardly an advantage. You’re not asked to help because you’re not expected to be able to help. In fact, you’re probably incapable of being of much help at all. If you can’t help with something like that, how can you be expected to hold down a job or contribute in any other meaningful way? In short, you can’t. Not being asked to help move is more a symptom of a much larger problem of low, or no expectations.
2. You don’t have to be the designated driver… ever.
Well, you know, I guess it’s all right, after all, blind people can really put it away. Just go to a blindness convention if you don’t believe me. Unfortunately, you can’t be the designated driver. No choice there.
3. You can read in the dark – if it’s in Braille.
I really can’t argue with this! Now if only we could get more braille, not to mention cheaper braille, and a higher literacy rate. 10% literacy would be deemed absolutely unacceptable were it any other population, but it’s OK for us for some reason.
4. You don’t have to buy light bulbs or have a night-light on your bedside table.
My sighted family members, and even my legally blind ones, would object most vociferously to this! I guess this would be an advantage if you also never had visitors. Sure, it’s probably true that we’re so scary that we don’t get lots of visitors (seems to be the case at my house, anyway), but it’s only polite to accommodate the light dependent.
5. You save money on your Hydro bill.
I don’t! If you mean because of the lights, well…that will be less a thing with LED lightbulbs. On the other hand, I’ve got a whole pile of gadgets that unfortunately require electricity.
6. You get special treatment or bonuses.
I’d really rather not have either. You get special treatment because society feels sorry for you. I’d much rather society not feel sorry for me and treat me as an equal. That means that I wish to accept all of the rights, and the responsibilities, that this entails. I’d really rather not be allowed to cut lines or employ handicapped parking, for example. My legs work fine. I’d trade all of these “perks” for a much lower unemployment rate.
7. You don’t have to be the map-reader when traveling with friends on a road trip.
Because your friends don’t expect you to be. They don’t actually expect you to do much of anything besides sit your ass in the car. The really great news is that you can be the navigator now, with talking GPS and iOS and Android-based GPS and all manner of GPS. Not to mention your own perhaps formidable knowledge of how-to get around wherever you live. If I’m familiar with a place, I must say I can give pretty good directions.
8. You can avoid looking at unpleasant things, like a gory accident, or something else that’s disgusting.
While it’s true you can’t unsee something that’s been seen, assuming you’re sighted, not being able to see it doesn’t make those things less real.
9. You’ll never get asked to paint or wallpaper a room during home renovations.
I have been. Of course, I won’t be picking out colors, and I’ve never done it before, but I still have been. Actually, the same person who asked me to help move some stuff around her house has also asked that I help with some other bits of home improvement. I’ve already warned her that whatever I help with had better be unskilled, because I don’t have any skills, but it’s sure nice to be asked all the same, because my friend actually believes that I can contribute something. Really, it’s pretty nice to not be told to sit over there out of the way for a change. Again, it’s all down to general expectations. I’d much rather someone have some expectations for me, rather than thinking I’m incapable of contributing.
10. You’ll never get asked for directions.
Oh, how not true! See the map reading question above.
11. When you ask for directions, most people will be friendlier.
Really? Are people really friendlier to blind people who ask for directions? I don’t know if this is true or not. If it is, it sucks for others. Whether it’s true or not, the downside is that most people can’t give directions. “Over there” or “That way” are definitely not advantages.
12. You don’t have to decorate.
Nice to accommodate the light dependents. Decorating is certainly not my forte, but I fortunately have friends who are better at that than I am!
13. You save money when buying a smaller TV or phone, because all you really need is the sound, not a big screen.
Well…there’s actually some truth to this, assuming again you’re living by yourself and don’t have other people who like television.
14. You can’t see that spider on the wall. You know, the one that’s inching closer to you right now.
OK, that’s pretty funny right there. Until the spider bites you.
15. You can use your blindness as an excuse to get out of doing certain chores (even though you are perfectly capable of doing them yourself).
OMG. For real? Really? I know you didn’t actually say this. Say it with me, ladies and gentlemen. Low expectations. Do you really think that having people think you’re pretty useless is an advantage? I sure don’t.
16. You don’t have to put up with dirty looks from others. How can you? You can’t see them!
So they don’t much matter. They sure don’t to me. It’s not an issue.
Benefits of Having a Blind Friend
You can roll your eyes as often as you want, and not be judged.
You can flip your friend the bird (give him/her the finger) when you get frustrated with him/her… and you can even laugh about it.
OK, so essentially, what you’re saying is that you can be a rude asshole, and your friend won’t know any better. That isn’t very friendly, and I’d be very, very disappointed in any friend who treated me with so little respect or regard, because I never would do that to someone else.
You can lie to his/her face about the new outfit he/she loves, even if you think it’s hideous.
Again, you can be a rude asshole. And disrespectful. And, in the long run, hurt your friend’s feelings by lying to him, rather than tactfully saying that the outfit s/he loves is probably not appropriate or is ugly or whatever. You really think that’s OK? You’re a shitty friend, and eventually, your blind friend will hear the truth and be really hurt by the fact that you’re a shitty friend.
Benefits of Dating a Blind Man
You never have to worry about a bad hair day, or wearing make-up.
Hell, you don’t have to worry about those things anyway. It’s a choice. While it’s true that the blind person will love you anyway, it’s equally true that unless you’re going on a date to a cave because you’re embarrassed to be seen with a blind person, you’ll be seen by lots of other people. Do you care what they think? Again, your choice, but do you really think so little of yourself, or your partner?
Your socks don’t have to match.
My friend Andrea tells me that this is actually a thing these days. Do as you like.
You can walk around naked without being self-conscious.
What’s stopping you anyway? And why should my presence make any difference?
You can pretend to be taller by wearing heels.
Really? Shallow much?
You can say you’re a blonde, even if you’re not. How’s he going to know?
And who cares? Again, you think he’s not going to talk to other people ever? Damn…I’m sure glad you’re not my girlfriend! Grow the hell up…this is high school shit.
Benefits of Dating a Blind Woman
They are pretty much the same as the benefits of dating a blind man, but when you date a blind woman, you don’t have to wait forever for her to fix her make-up or her hair, or try on 50 different outfits before she decides upon one that is simply “perfect.”
I ask you. How many blind women have you dated? I’m here to tell you, blind women are as obsessed with their appearance as sighted women are, maybe more so because they’re expected to not be put together very well.
You also don’t have to wait for her to apply polish to her fingernails. She’ll have already had someone do it for her. (Of course, that person might be you!)
Umm…really? So blind women don’t do their own makeup? Many do, and without your rotten help, thank you very much. Again, low or no expectations. Definitely not an advantage.
If you have a lot of pimples on your chest, you can play a game (or trick) on her. Just tell her you created a special love message in Braille for her, and see if she can decipher it!
This seriously doesn’t even merit comment, it just doesn’t. It isn’t even funny.
You will never awaken to screams for you to kill a spider. (Unless she feels one crawling on her!)
What’s with the spiders anyway?
Anyway, lest you think I have no sense of humor, could be you’re right. I sure get a chuckle out of boneheaded things I do, or things that happen to me. I think my friend Holly said it best:
I also think that the distinction is between being able to laugh at things that are actually funny, and things that are always, no matter how you look at it, damaging. If I walk into something I might laugh with my friends, it was a mistake and I was being careless. But a lot of these things, like, people never asking you to help, they actually prevent blind people from having employment opportunities. If someone doesn’t think I’m capable of helping them, am I also not capable of working? Of getting an education? The fact that people don’t ask us to help them move, or to do chores is a direct result of them believing we are less able, which, as we know has very real implications.
Couldn’t have said it better.
By the way, my friend BlindBeader wrote this blog post sort of indirectly addressing this same topic. She’s a lot less ranty and has a lot more class than I have.
Update #2: In the interest of full disclosure and “fair and balanced”, Max has responded to my post, which I sent a link to on his blog. He rightly points out that just sending a link with little commentary (I just said my reaction was different than others on his site) would probably be labeled as spam and not read by most bloggers and would be marked as spam. He’s right of course, but I also didn’t think he’d like me putting my whole response in a comment. Anyway, his response is on the comments section of the blog, linked above. For your convenience however, here’s his response in its entirety:
Hi Buddy; I actually read your post objectively, and you will notice that I haven’t deleted the link to it. Most web masters would have seen this as spam as the point to comment luv is you enter your url and then your latest post is automatically displayed. However, my point is that you wrote a great post. You gave me credit for my own achievements and then spotlighted the flaws you see in it. I should mention two things. One the post was written in fun. It was never intended to be a serious look at advantages and disadvantages of being blind. And since posting it I’ve had many people tell me that they will no longer omit their blind or otherwise apparently disabled friends when needing to move, getting directions, choosing colors, etc. I should also mention that I used to help move a 45 by 75 ft. roller coster 40 weeks out of the year so everyone in my family knows I can help move. They actually look for me first when heavy lifting is needed. They leave me out when fragile delicate items are involved. 🙂 I chose the colors for my website. They were exceedingly bright but lead to conversations rather than getting in the way of sales. I get your point. I’ll try to be more serious, you try to be a little less so? What do you say my friend? And don’t get down on twitter. Blogs need comments and twitter is one of the best ways to get them. After all would you have seen this post without twitter? Many blessings to you, Max
I should note here that it’s highly unlikely that I would actually stop reading twitter. Sometimes doing so is a bit like watching a road accident, admittedly, but other times it’s not and generates interesting discussions.