I’m sitting at the computer working, and I have the TV on Discovery II in the background. They’ve been running these shows all morning about super humans, people who can do all this amazing stuff that normal people can’t do. And sure enough, we’ve come to an episode with a superblink, one of these blind people who are just so damn amazing. This guy’s apparently superhuman because he uses sonar and makes clicky noises with his tongue in order to determine what’s around him.

I really, really hate this sort of thing. Maybe “normal” people find this amazing, but I, and most of the other blind people I know, find people who do things like make random noises for whatever reason, (specifically, going around clicking with their tongues), to be incredibly annoying.

Why is it annoying, you ask? Because it’s the exact opposite of something I posted on Facebook the other day that discussed the irrational fear by others that blind people have to deal with and combat on a pretty frequent basis. But where this article portrayed the feared blind bogyman as being extra stupid or extra poor or extra afflicted, this show flips the coin and puts blind people on an unnaturally high pedestal. But either way, we’re dealing with objectification of the blind, which is bad, and, whether good or bad, it’s something that’s dealt with by blind people all the time. We’re either incredibly stupid or so awesome that it defies explanation, which spirals into “you’re just so inspiring, I don’t know how you do it, Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God,” porn for the light slaves.

This might be cool if we could use it to our advantage, like maybe convincing sighted people that we’re all gods in disguise and therefore we need all sorts of offerings or whatever, and those offerings had to consist of lots of money and tech and big houses and such. But since that’s not the case, I figure we should just keep it at normal for all of our sakes.

As blind people, a lot of us complain when others treat us differently from “normal” people. And in a lot of cases, those complaints are justified. But we’re not doing ourselves any favors by contributing to that mistreatment. There’s a Hebrew phrase that seems apt here, Kol eravim zeh l’zeh, which basically means “we’re all responsible for each other.” It means that what one of us does has an effect on everyone else in the community, whether good or bad. In these cases, where the blind community meets the press, it isn’t the good we do for each other that gets the influence, it’s the bad. And that means every time someone puts themselves out there to be revered by sighted people, the rest of us are expected to either do that, or we’re assumed to have special powers, (which we don’t), or it goes the opposite way and it has adverse effects on our daily interactions, our travel, our business dealings, and anything else it can possibly touch. So I’m asking my fellow blinks to please keep that in mind if you’re ever tempted to put yourself out there for sighted awe, because the benefits just aren’t worth it.

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64 thoughts on “Not Another Super Blink

  1. My friend sent this post to me and I just have to tell you, you speak my mind totally. I am just an ordinary person trying to navigate a world over run with “light slaves” as you call them. 9 months out of the year, I can do that pretty well but in the winter, it just sucks. Thanks for being honest.

  2. I agree that any type of media attention that portrays us as either amazing super humans or pathetic sub humans deserving of sympathy is not helpful or welcome.
    I hesitate to hold the blind individuals that are featured in the media completely responsible. I didn’t see this particular piece, so I don’t know what was said, but anyone who has been interviewed by the media probably knows how what you say can be distorted.
    I tend to think clicking is annoying as well, but I think my feeling about it is totally irrational and unacceptable. Why? Because then I am judging another person for using an alternative technique they find useful. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just because I’m uncomfortable with it doesn’t mean it is bad. If I allow myself to judge other people with disabilities, then I have no right to be upset with sighted people who are uncomfortable and disdainful of the alternative techniques I need to use, just because they are different from theirs.

    • Hi Sarah,

      I don’t have a problem, necessarily, with people using other skills to do what they need to do. But as a blind person, I do have a problem with people who do things like click, or rock, or whatever, because it’s not a way for people to get around, it’s a mannerism they’ve developed at some point in their life that detracts from not only that person being seen as normal, but also the rest of us. In this particular case, this was a show about superhumans, not something that got picked up by some local newspaper because someone called a reporter to say look, there’s this really awesome blind guy we think you should write about in your paper. The man on this show was also an adult, not a child. So yeah, I do hold him partially responsible.

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