Best Golf Handicap App Android in 2021
Handicap: Golf Tracker Pro
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Whistler Area Golf Handicap App
- View course information
- Click to call the Pro shop
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Golf Handicap Calculator Free -US Canada Australia
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Diablo Golf Handicap Tracker
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Golf Handicap Calculator
- You will need to enter 5 scores to get a handicap.
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- Add Score: Simple - Select your course and enter your score.
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- Create a golf group
- o Invite your friends to join your group.
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Golf Handicap Calculator
- Ability to add any course
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Handicap: Golf Tracker Lite
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- Extensive Help menu guides you through the features
GPS Golf Elite for USA - Android
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MISA Golf HCP
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An examination of my world within my handicap and the worlds around me...
I have had to overcome two distinct frameworks of my disability for at least 10 years, maybe longer. I had to become comfortable with myself as an individual with an unfortunate circumstance standing in his way. This may seem easy enough at first thought, especially if you are part of the public that sees me trudge up and down the halls and across campus at The Ohio State University at Mansfield. Truth is, it has been one of the most difficult journeys I have taken, and it will surely continue to present problems until I am no longer walking.
Do I realize my disability? Sure I do. I interact with it every day as I use the handicap-accesible bathroom stalls, or get into my car equipped with hand controls. But the degree to which processes and objects govern my daily life as a young man whose rhythmic, pendulum-like stroll seems to be the main thing setting him apart from the able-bodied world, is minimal than many others who sometimes suffer as I do. The public sees that waddle, and already (probably before they realize) they make judgements. Many don't get to see how I really go about my daily business, walking strangely being a very small part of that process. But that difference ends now.
As I see it, I walk a bit differently than much of the rest of the world. That's where my self-perception is paramount to my journey, and my mind is the beginning of that ride. I strongly believe that it is of the utmost importance to those individuals struggling with their disability to do your best to rid yourself of the mental confines it entails first, and then, if possible, work toward distancing yourself from your physical being. I realize, yes, that sometimes this isn't possible. That's okay. Every single aspect of my disability dictated by my physical self is necessary to my survival and daily function.
But, the fact that I do not walk as well or as fast as others does not under any circumstances mean that I can't. Spina bifida, like many other physical disabilities, is a daily roadblock to the body. It doesn't have to wear down on the soul. In those early years, I had to want to push myself, because my disability wasn't going to change, and the same is true today. No miracles happened then, and no lightning bolts will burst forth today, or even in my future. A change in perspective, not a miracle, is the key. "Who is for me?" Hillel wonders. I am. "When?" he asks. Now, before this pivotal opportunity in our living history disappears.
What does a disabilty look like? Should it look a certain way? Should it be treated in a certain way? Why do we need to ask ourselves these questions? It's not hard, in some ways, to see what a disability looks like, at least in terms of its physical qualities. There are lots of clues that allow able-bodied people to see a disability surrounding someone; from equipment like wheelchairs and crutches, to sometimes less-visible things like leg braces, which I have more experience with than the former duo. Part of my journey toward accepting my disability has been to come to reasonable terms with my daily interaction with these tools. But, as with any tool, it's only most useful when used in the most appropriate environment.
The difficulty of my daily interaction with these particular tools has proven to be that my environment, public life, is always changing, and often doesn't allow for much adjustment in public perception. That said, there have been many times when I have been out in public places on rather hot summer afternoons, and despite my rationale that "I am more comfortable in jeans," my real reason is often that I am still uncomfortable at times wearing shorts in public, mostly because I feel that many people unconsciously concentrate on my disability. Instead, I wear jeans because I would like people to see me for me, not the circumstantial me.
Interesting, this idea of "unconscious concentration." I wonder then, what its presence within my language practices as a tool does to the situation. Certainly it seems like these two ideas are sparring with each other, much like the ideas of disability and ability.
But why do these two ideas seem useful or not useful in this context? If you are able-bodied and "concentrate" on someone's disability, that seems to say to me that there isn't an avenue available to allow yourself to change your thinking. I think perhaps the ideas we have, the words we use like "stress the person before the disability," fall into this type of one-way thinking. The same seems to be true about "differently-abled." In these types of phrases, while the role we've assigned these language tools is to shorten the gap between ourselves, the part they actually play seems much different.
Many of these phrases are much too superficial, and while they may look like they lessen the gap, they don't. It is the implicitness of phrases like those that is important, not necessarily so much the explicitness. We are, in a sense, by using these phrases, unconsciously concentrating on what we choose to see by in effect "stressing the disability before the person, and perhaps not the person at all. Sure, the explicitness is important, but I feel that the implicitness happens first in our minds, and thus should be dealt with before we get ahead of ourselves, as I certainly feel we have done. Could this sound nit picky? Perhaps. But I'd much rather be nit picky than not careful.
Laws like those found in the ADA also trouble me. Why? While these laws certainly were designed to give more opportunities to those with disabilities to live more freely and easily in an able-bodied world, I'm not convinced that that's what actually happens, or at least that's not the only thing that happens.
Laws, like their counterparts Rule and Regulation, despite the consequences, are broken. Why? You simply cannot make someone do something all the time. Especially if they do not consider the law, rule or regulation important. I wonder then, what it would be like to, for example, not simply print "Reserved for the Disabled" on a large blue and white sign on a parking lot. What if it said something like, "why are you parking here?" At least maybe then people will have choices, and within those choices opportunities to think, if only for a few seconds. If the answer is "Well, because I'm disabled," then that seems implicitly much more thought out than "Because I want to, or "Because I can." One required the ever-important reflection, the other mere refraction of self.
But like I said, we can't make people do something. We have to know that another possibility exists before that can happen. We can't know the answer until we realize that we have to ask a question first.
I don't believe that everyone with a disability will absolutely be able to be comfortable with the public's perception of their physical nature, but I do think it is possible, and I believe it is a part of the journey that ought to be paid some attention. I could have ignored the eventual change of thought within myself to try and become comfortable with showing my leg braces, or using my crutches or wheelchair within the throngs of able-bodied people. I could have given up and stubbornly worn jeans everyday for the past 18 years or so to hide my disability. But where would that have led me? Certainly not to writing this, I'm sure. It took me a long time, just as it is taking many others, to think equally of ourselves in a world when we may not look the same.
But I worked at it, and almost from day One I have accepted my disability in its entirety, and opted not to confine myself to the physical, and more importantly, to the mental traps of these tools, including my disability itself.
Furthermore, I asked myself if these tools had any mental effect on how I thought about my own disability, and how that differs from how others cope. To be perfectly honest, I discovered that they do often alter my thinking, and I am usually able to choose when I want to use tools like my wheelchair or my crutches (not very often, as I have come to consider them barriers in areas like non-verbal communication), or when I would rather use more immediate and hopefully personable avenues like humor, which I understand better, and don't have to take near as much time to assemble, for the only wheels are the right opportunities.
Many people I encounter are not comfortable with how lightly I treat my handicap, but I believe it is their limited experience wit this kind of treatment that allows that to happen. Perhaps it is my extensive use of this tool that allows me in some senses to feel more a part the able-bodied community than I am the disabled group, and unlike some with disabilities, I do not consider myself a person with a disability first, and often not at all. I believe that I owe the advent of humor some credit in that respect, as well as the pressure that the lack of effective communication has brought upon me to search for different ways of coping, which I have discovered many.
The current phase of this journey with my disability didn't happen when I was born, nor did it happen soon after. Day One, this new beginning, this rebirth in my thinking, wasn't always there. In fact, until I began to distance myself from my dependence upon others in handling my disability, I didn't have a very free life. I became somewhat shackled by those tools I use everyday, one of the most important (and most powerful) being my attitude toward my self as a person with a disability. For a long time, years in fact, I was simply "born that way," not bothering to explain to those who asked why I walked the way I did then, or why sometimes I walked out of the classroom in the middle of the hustle and bustle, only to magically reappear minutes later.
But as the years passed, "I was born that way" became "I have spina bifida," which gradually improved to "I can't feel my legs." As my language changed, the looks I once perceived to be tinged with uncertain fear as I plodded down hallways, sidewalks, and through shopping malls seemed to fade to curious glances. In the later years of this rebirth, I didn't care much for the technical details of my disability, so they slowly drifted out of my daily dialogue, replaced with much more casual banter.
I tossed aside my wheelchair, favoring my more natural two legs, despite the frequent exhaustion. Long gone became the familiar thud-clink of my crutches on pavement and the dirt of my favorite hideouts outside. Those devices no longer served such an important purpose in my life. I was the important one.
My choice to see myself is to be totally me, not letting society or my disability dictate who I am going to be. Those tools are useless as far as I'm concerned. My journey is about opportunities, not settling for living within my disability and its many confines. I don't often see bars on the window to the world in front of me. I see a challenge to do better. My disability is an unfortunate circumstance (a 3% chance, to be exact) nestled amongst countless moments far more important to my daily life. Sure, my disability is a reality. But it isn't the reality. I have been reborn; scars gone, apologetic looks vanished.
The current dichotomy society has molded itself around has become a puzzle to be within those 10 years I have spent on this path. It seems to me to be exclusive in its form, just like any other two opposites; not seeming to allow for the opportunity for those within its tight grasp to think beyond its walls. Individuals are either disabled or they aren't. Much of society sees it that way. Otherwise, why would the issues surrounding disability even exist? We've created such a distance between ourselves that perhaps we may never be able to come any closer than we are. We together need to realize that such a gap exists before we do anything to solve it, and I don't think we're there yet.
We made a valiant effort with the ADA in 1990, but it merely served as a guide of actions, many of which did nothing to shorten that gap of perception, and more often than not kept the distance the same. We even try to alter out word choices by suggesting that we "stress the person before the disability." Yet, even with this path, the dichotomy reigns supreme, as long as we realize its there. Not only must we shorten that chasm between ourselves as a society, but we must work toward the same goal within ourselves, disabled or not. Equal treatment (there the dichotomy rears its ugly head again) begins with thought, not action. My hope is that I bring us closer (as I cannot and should not deny the gap exists) by stressing my journey as a model for better communication, not the answer to the problem. Perhaps one day, the saying will go something like, "Stress the person," or "We're us." But, we have a long way to go.
"We would rather be just like us, and have that be alright."
"Adah Price" The Poisonwood Bible
One tool that I discovered a few years ago that serves to both help me accept my disability more fully, and teach others about it (thereby allowing them the opportunity to accept it as well), has been writing about it.
When I was a senior in high school in 2003, I wrote a piece for my Advanced Composition class. At that time, I was at a point in my mind when I saw the able-bodied world in a more negative light than I do now. I was 18 then, but did not yet have a driver's license, mainly because I had not yet taken then steps toward getting a car with hand controls. Now, as is true with any individual similar to me, the ADA has allowed us the opportunity to park closer to public places. But, I had not a car, thus not the opportunity to actually use those parking spaces. The composition as I wrote it is as follows:
Let's assume for a few minutes that we are among the 40 million physically-challenged persons in the US. Now, imagine that we have pulled our specially-equipped car into the parking lot of our favorite store. Being the weekend, the lot is almost full of bustling shoppers. We search the lot for a few minutes, seeking out an empty "Reserved For The Disabled" parking space. We spot one shortly after, and start to pull our car into the space. Unfortunately, we fail to see the red 2002 Ferrari to our left, and before we know it, the intruder has stolen our precious parking space.
The car sits in the spot for a moment, stereo blaring with the wonderful tune of Eminem's "Without Me." A few moments later, the door opens, and exits a young man, probably in his twenties. Wearing a backwards baseball cap depicting a marijuana leaf, a white T-shirt with the words "Challenge Me" on the front, and baggy jeans with a long silver chain swaying from the pocket, he steps out of the car and tosses his cigarette onto the pavement beneath him. Most of us, whether handicapped or not, have seen this scenario unfold before our eyes countless times before, right? How would you feel?
I do, in fact, have a physical disability, so whenever the need for a designated parking space arises, I would expect to have one available. It really bothers me that the standards by which someone can obtain a handicap parking permit seem all too weak, at least from my point of view. I have also recently witnessed what I believe to be the most sickening misuse of a handicap permit. I saw someone who wasn't the least bit handicap pull into a handicap parking space. It was clear to me that they were just using their parent's car to park closer. If that wasn't the most disgusting gesture I had ever seen, then I have no clue what would be.
Some people, not only in my community but all over the world, have no clue what is publicly acceptable, or legally acceptable for that matter. From now on, I want us to think about the aforementioned stereotype with the red Ferrari, as well as the abuser of the permit the next time we see someone using a designated parking spot who clearly isn't disabled. We need to let the world know how we feel about those inconsiderate, ignorant people of the world. Trust me: those people will never park where they aren't supposed to if they know that the entire world will be watching, our fists ready to fly.
I think that I recognized my choice of portraying what I felt was the public's perception of disability within the actions of one character, that young man in the red Ferrari. Otherwise, I would not have chosen that specific an image. But what I don't think I recognized when I wrote that composition is that my depiction isn't necessarily the right one, and more importantly I don't think I recognized that it isn't the only choice.
Furthermore, my other concentrated effort of speaking strongly upon what I saw as two competing communities, and how I thought the disabled community felt at the time (angry), prevented me from seeing other avenues of communication.
What challenges this thought process, though, is the way I see it now, the way in which I choose to write about it these moments. As I look now, perhaps my thoughts and feelings then were a perfectly normal part of this journey, at least in the sense that I may not have been the only one thinking that way in 2003. But, this is 2020 now, not 2003. What I hope happens in this moment in 2020 is that you see my difficulties in dealing with how to interact productively, and feel that the journey is worth your time.
After my senior year in high school, I didn't feel that I had an opportunity to write about my journey with my disability until I took a writing course my sophomore year at The Ohio State University at Mansfield. The course was called "Composing U.S Communities." Curiously, though, what could have been going on in my mind that allowed for that large valley in time to exist? Perhaps my self-perception changed.
As many individuals similar to me know, the challenges facing a disabled person when attending college, no matter how large the campus, are huge. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that I felt it necessary to become acquainted with those tools (disability services, etc.) and think of ways to interact with the inherent barriers, before I could write about my disability again.
True, I did in fact become acquainted with those opportunities and did my best to interact with those barriers I faced. Mostly though, I feel that it was that writing course that helped me think about my disability in different ways and the possibilities contained within that perspective, which led me eventually to where I am today.
"Composing U.S. Communities," the bulletin read. Communities! I'm part of those! I thought. That moment helped me realize that maybe I'm not really that different from everyone else. I took that moment in stride and set out to discover, since the class was structured as a rhetoric class, how my language choices within life with a disability functioned.
For instance, I illustrated how humor functions in my life as an individual who can't walk very well...
As I walk with my best friend Pete down the long open corridor of the Richland Mall, people wander to and from stores, in search of something, God knows
what. Pete and I are here for pleasure, not business. He strolls, I amble, both of us toward the bustling Food Court with stomachs gurgling.
Just before we get to that magic line between the Food Court and the rest of the mall, I awkwardly bump into one of the large white, round trash cans, enough
to make it wobble a little, and certainly enough to grab Pete's attention. Moments later, having resituated the trash bin, I glance at Pete, eyebrows raised, eyes
shifting and somewhat wide-open.
"Walk much?" Pete jokes, beginning to laugh, perhaps because he is anticipating my wry reply.
"Hey, just remember, dude. I can't walk, but I can get you a closer parking spot."
What is most interesting now, as I discovered then, is the difference that humor seemed to (and still does) make within my daily interactions with people when my being disabled happens into the conversation. First of all, the way I see it functioning now (as I did then) is that it serves to present a valid and attainable opportunity for me, and those around me who are in on the conversation, to refer to my disability in these humorous terms, which inherently seem more humanistic. After all, if someone says something funny, don't we often laugh? Sure, sometimes we do, but then sometimes we don't.
My intention then, when I am the one to initiate the humor (which isn't always the case, but given society's unfamiliarity with this kind of treatment, that seems to be the case most of the time) is to show the person next to me that yes, I am comfortable enough with myself, and that I am also willing to let them be comfortable with it as well, and laugh with me.
Secondly, I feel that the introduction of humor in this context is really not that different from when an individual uses it in the context of when they are struggling with an idea or a circumstance. Often times, when we're faced with a moment like that, we laugh about it, in hopes that it will help us deal with it more effectively. Perhaps the same is true when I laugh about my disability, and when others do. I cannot be absolutely sure, but I have to believe that such a possibility exists. In essence, when I make a joke about my disability, perhaps I am merely using an everyday, every-person tool to lessen whatever qualms I am feeling, and that tool of humor seems like a relatively effective and universal place to go. Does it always work? No. But it's a tool, and it has its inherent limitations, and those limitations in this context are no different than if I were using the humor in any other context.
In the fall of 2020, I took another step in my journey. For a second time at Ohio State in Mansfield, I enrolled in English 268, a creative writing class where the subject matter was purely the personal narrative, and that personal narrative only needed to be nonfiction. Otherwise it was up to us what we wanted to write.
While the essay I wrote ended up focusing on my relationship with my father, within it our story seemed to rest on the shoulders of my disability. Interestingly though, the first time through writing that essay, I didn't find myself elaborating much on the ins and outs of my condition, at least in its technical terms. Instead, I fell back on what by then seemed to me my stock opening line when discussing my disability: "I have lived with a birth defect called spina bifida." And I pretty much left it at that.
But what happened in class during the workshopping session of my essay was that each of my classmates said that they wanted to know more specifically what spina bifida was all about. "I don't know much about it, and I'd like to," they said.
Wow, I thought. For once maybe people aren't so concerned about offending me by asking questions and wanting to know more about me. So I then took it upon myself to tell my readers more specifically about my disability. I think that at that point, my writing became a tool with at least two purposes, but maybe more.
In writing about my disability through the text of personal narrative and then through the lens focusing on its consequences, I was able to face head-on some of the more personal aspects of it, and as hard as it was, I was able to realize that I was wrong in choosing to neglect some of the details of personal care, like catheterizing myself as often as I am supposed to, and remembering to take my necessary pills. I had done myself wrong, and for the first time in 22 years, I admitted it.
Within that context, at times I wrote through the eyes of my father, and I think that by doing so I was able to deal more viscerally with the neglect I had fostered. I had convinced myself that what I was doing was wrong, so in this moment in 268 of reflecting again, I chose to take another point of view. And it turned out to be a really powerful essay. It seemed to serve as a teaching tool for my classmates who may not have known much about spina bifida, or disabilities in general (and a few didn't.) It also seemed to help me discover new paths of thinking and new ways of writing about my disability, as well as being rather therapeutic. Nevertheless, my goal in writing it was to allow people to consider another viewpoint, even for just a few seconds, and I believe that essay did just that.
One quarter later, in the winter of 2020, I elected to be in two classes, which at the time I signed up, thought were going to be totally different. As it turns out, I was wrong. There is the creative writing class for which (at least in part) this piece exists. But, I am also taking a class dealing with the history of the technologies of writing, one of those technologies being a book.
Our current project in that class is to try and discover what a book is, but more importantly, what it can be. The first step, or at least the first I took, was to decide in what "binding" I wanted my book to be enclosed. I chose autobiography. Secondly, I chose the "text" of my disability, and within that decided to twist around many of the ideas I have been discussing in this piece and reform them into a project where the reader has a majority of control over what his or her choices do when applied to making decisions about how to effectively work with their thought processes about disability. In certain moments, I have decided to use brief narrative (strictly words) to present an issue to my readers, and in other instances I have elected to toss in pictures of disabilities for my readers to ponder, and in still other moments I have chosen to mix both pictures and text within the "pages" of my project. In doing so, I hope to mirror the notions that the opportunities people have to think about these issues are not always going to be in the form of pure words, but may be in other forms, perhaps even some I don't mention.
I believe that in doing so I am illustrating how the world surrounding these issues within disability actually works, not just rehashing the idea that words are the only obstacle keeping us from thinking more clearly together.
My intent in all of these instances in which I have tackled my disability seems to be much the same as when we all face these kinds of questions outside of texts such as this one. Just like when we are thinking in our daily lives about what these issues mean, in writing these stories I hope we read them within the mindset of a cycle. First, we see ourselves on the outside and in turn challenge those initial perceptions, then we move inside our minds and lives and examine the tools we use to cope with our circumstances (whatever they may be), in hopes that we are able to become less dependent upon those tools, whether they be crutches, a wheelchair, humor or anger. Once that happens (or at least starts to happen), it's possible then to think more equally of ourselves (as we may not be able to totally get past our differences). Finally then, before we start the whole cycle of thought and self-reflection over again, we simply must not be afraid to try out our ideas, experiment with them, whatever they are, just as I have done here and in years past. If they don't work, well, then they don't work. What seems to be happening now is that we're stopping after our first trials with these ideas. Once we try them out and they don't work, we need to ask ourselves why that is, and challenge ourselves to figure out a way to keep moving forward.
Hypermedia and My Disability: A Different Conversation?
One of the things that I find myself doing, albeit often willingly, happens when I move from orally "bashing" myself (as some may see it) in a one-on-few conversation with friends and family, to continuing that conversation in a different medium such as Myspace.com. With Myspace, users have the option of (or opportunity) to fill out hundreds of on-screen surveys, many of them asking us certain things about our personal lives.
More often than not, I use these certain questions as containers for the opportunity to make fun of myself, more specifically my disability and my daily life within it. True, my words don't often seem, sound, or feel different to me in these cases. But, the particular context here seems to add a new wrinkle to the journey of communication with which I am involved.
Perhaps the namesake of the site creates the many different feelings, reactions, and questions I have when thinking about this type of communication. It is, after all, my space, so shouldn't I be allowed to contribute to its pre-molded form as I choose? The answer is, obviously, yes. But I don't think that it's that simple. In the moments out in public when I poke fun at my disability, someone usually doesn't react the way I had planned. I have discovered the same to be true of the largely-public world of Myspace.
Of course, the vehicle for those aforementioned surveys on Myspace is a "bulletin," and because of the hypertextual construction of that bulletin, only my "Friends" have the opportunity to read the surveys, likewise the moments when I have made fun of my disability.
Before we explore this new communication further, I think it's important to look at some of the language choices that the creators of Myspace made in designing the layered surfaces of the site, because I think there are connections we can make within how we think about these choices and how they affect our actions. Upon reaching "your" homepage in Myspace, many of us have chosen to be able to view a list of texts that our Friends have posted. While the content of these texts is often random and diverse, the creators still chose to refer to them as bulletins.
What can we make of that, you may be wondering. I think that has to depend on what the word "bulletin" conjures up in our minds, because those nuances can show up later in our thinking and reactions to these texts on this site. When I think of what a bulletin can be, contexts like church bulletins come to mind. What follows then, is a quick realization of how I think those function in their own context. Church bulletins are public in that there is the possibility that everyone will read them (because of their prevalence in society), and I think that is partly their intent. However, churches often function as a more private endeavor, thus those bulletins are often read by a smaller group of people than some may think, and within that idea, the views in those church bulletins can be cast aside, viewed as different from what the public thinks. I think that in this respect, that same thought process is possible with disability. Despite its public intention, the "different" connotations of disability somehow overshadow and hide the idea that maybe we're not that different from each other.
Is it possible, then, that the connections I have made with church bulletins (seemingly available to all because of their sheer number, but perhaps not so because of their context) to disability hold true in the case of a seemingly-private context like a Myspace survey? Well, let's see.
In my point of view, when I see one of these bulletins on my Myspace homepage, I am under the assumptions that 1) the content of this bulletin posted by my friend has been deemed important enough that I should read it, and 2) the content will in some way allow me to interact with my friend in some way. But, sometimes that idea of a bulletin in its "public, therefore important" context becomes cloudy with some things I find posted in that allotted space. However, it isn't very often that my second assumption of connecting with my friend doesn't hold up in one way or another. When those bulletins are surveys, that connection of continued communication between us is often at its strongest.
This leads to the idea of accessibility, which, in the case of communicating about disability, is paramount. While the public-private push and pull behind the idea of what the word "bulletin" entails is complicated, the context of a survey is a bit more accessible, although it still presents its own challenges. Add to that fact the qualms many have when faced with reading surveys in which I poke fun at my disability, and the consequences are greater still.
I cannot account for everyone's reaction to a survey with these moments of humor in it. When I post or re-post a survey, yes, I often make fun of myself. What puzzles me, though, is why virtually no one else seems to be doing so? We know that the Internet is a largely public world, one in which much of what we say can be seen and read by almost everyone. Yet, a place such as a survey on Myspace is largely (perhaps purely) private, at least in the sense that "only your friends can see what you've posted in the bulletins." Is it possible that the "imposing" presence that a hypertextually-public world like the Internet could be keeping us from poking fun at ourselves, even if we do so in a private place like Myspace, which was designed as such in this sense? Have we become so inundated with the idea that no matter what, everyone will see what we write, so therefore when we see it done, even in a private setting, it still doesn't seem acceptable or appropriate?
I'd like to believe that I realize this, and that's why I don't announce to the world (unless you have been reading this) that I have a disability and make fun of it, but instead limit my online joking to those surveys. So you see, I am still going through this battle of trying to fit into these both equally alien worlds. I want to allow people to see how I interact fully with both, yet I limit myself in the case of those surveys. So, perhaps it is that idea of the Internet making me feel as though the only appropriate place in cyber-spatial terms to make fun of my disability is within the privacy of Myspace.
Furthermore, within the scope of this cybertalk, an advantage we have is that there is the illusion that what we say or do online becomes unimportant once we log off or shut down our computers. If we close that window, do the problems still exist? I think that's an important question to ask. Once I post a survey in which I have made fun of my disability, often times I think about it for a couple minutes after (never during) the time I have posted it. Then, I switch gears (entirely too easily in my mind) to a different site, and there in cyberspace is my written joking about my disability, seen through my eyes, yet virtually forgotten in my mind. Do others simply laugh at my jokes and then forget about them when they log off? Would the same happen in less-private contexts?
Looking back at the consequences of being subjected to the views on bulletins everywhere we go outside of cyberspace, like church or down the halls of colleges, perhaps when dealing with as sensitive a subject as disability, maybe the world isn't ready for us to take our circumstances more lightly. For now, sticking to the privacy of Myspace bulletins (or elsewhere) seems the safest route. But it's up to us to take that chance to try something different.
"I can't walk, but I can get us a closer parking spot." -- Me
My interaction with both the world of the able and that of us with disabilities seems to take on a new form when that interaction is set within the parameters of Myspace or facebook. However, when I really examine my web pages in those sites, I wonder if they actually are that different from others. Let's take a look my pages on those sites for a few moments, starting with my Myspace profile page.
One of the first elements you'll probably notice is my profile picture, which nearly every member's Myspace page has on it. In it, I am sitting in a pose for my high school senior picture in semi-formal clothes, smiling. I want to point out that that particular picture heeds no obvious notion that I have a disability. Under that picture, there is a link to more pictures, and if you were to activate that link, you would see that there is only one picture of me that shows any connection to my disability whatsoever. How does that or would that make you feel, I wonder? Does it make you wonder if others on Myspace have pictures of themselves showing their disability? I wonder this same question, and if I assume that there are other members who have disabilities, I also wonder why they choose to (or not to) show those pictures, and if their reasons reflect some of my own. I find that an important thing to wonder, because if our collective goal is to somehow unite in some way, I think that if we're all posting or not putting up pictures of our disability for the same reasons, then that gives us (as a whole community, not just those with disabilities) an opportunity to examine those reasons, and either praise ourselves for those reasons, or have a conversation about the reasons we hesitate which we can then use to help us work through the difficulties. Also on my page are the commonplace "Interests," "Books," "Music," and "Movies" categories I filled in, just as other members have. Still, so far it doesn't clearly seem like I make a point to concentrate visually on my disability, thereby creating that same concentration among my space's visitors, does it?
Only when a visitor to my Myspace page gets to my "About Me" section is there a reference to any difference between us as participators in this new online community. There in that section, in rather small print among a few borrowed lines of a quote from Steve Carrell's movie 40-Year-Old Virgin, is the descriptive "mentally-retarded." Could some people see this as amusing? I think so, myself included, simply because I know it exists within the context of a comedic movie, and I understand (as most of us do) that it isn't meant to be taken seriously. It's meant to make us laugh, then forget. In my case, that is my intention. However, as is true in some moments in public when I poke fun at myself not everyone is going to think it's funny. But that's okay. I want people to be able to feel uncomfortable. It's going to happen anyway. What I aim for that doesn't always happen in these moments is for the uneasiness to remain as just that, and not grow to avoidance. I want visitors to my page to take that moment when they see the quote, and rather than make assumptions of its intent, ask why it might be there. Perhaps in another case it could be construed as malicious (and sometimes it is), but take the chance to actually see if there could be another possibility.
I constructed my facebook page in much the same manner as I did my Myspace page. My profile picture is exactly the same, and many of my pictures are the same in both worlds. There still, only one of my pictures gives any hint toward my disability. Here, in facebook, the environment appears much more ordinary and unified, as opposed to the multitude of designed pages on Myspace. On facebook, everyone's life looks exactly the same, at least in the background. In this online world, we're only given the opportunity to change our information on the surface, the way we want to be seen, not our past, the background. Perhaps our backgrounds do not matter so much.
In my case, much of my background has, by my choice, been weaved within what's on the surface of the webpage. I say that my friends, family, music and nature are all important to me. My favorite movies, music, and even my heroes are in plain sight. Yet, virtually no inkling of the disability exists for people to see. Only momentarily is it there, nestled within my other pictures. What's more, the picture giving away my secret is obviously taken from my past. What is there is an implicit growth, a cycle of my life in pictures and words, all contained within that layer of text. My past, my disability, is a mere blue-gray shadow on screen, yet still a part of me wherever I go. Through my thoughts and perceptions have I grown; in part because of my friends and family have I changed and continue to; and through my writing have I seen most clearly and likewise taken a different path. I invite you, whether or not you have a disability, to take a journey through yourself.