Communication Barriers

I’m back on-line  Three months without internet is hard. Very hard. Especially when most of your daily contact with the outside world happens via the web.

I’ve been offline because we moved house, I now live in a wonderful little bungalow in a nice area surrounded by friendly neighbours. Sadly the council poured tarmac over our local junction box and it’s taken months to locate it and dig it up so that we could get our phone line & internet connected. Over the last few months I’ve missed a lot of stuff, the protests over ATOS’s involvement with the Paralympics, the Paralympics themselves and all the media coverage, party political conferences, dodgy TV, attacks on women’s rights and millions of other things that didn’t make it into the news.

I have spent a couple of months now dealing with a massive flare up of depression and anxiety which I realise was in part because I have felt massively isolated since moving. Not only am I physically further away from most of my friends, I lost my ability to communicate with them and keep up with their lives. When I can’t meet people face to face I, like many others living in today’s society, fall back on social networking or emailing to keep up to date. Without that I found myself really struggling. I started falling into some very negative thinking patterns and lacked the easy access to support and positive reinforcement to challenge them in an effective manner.

It’s really hammered home for me just how important the internet & social media are for me and (I assume) for many others in similar positions. Actually, it’s hammered home just how important the ability to communicate with others and feel heard is. Regardless of the medium used I feel it’s very important that everyone has a way of expressing themselves to others and communicating their needs. Freedom of expression is a Human Right after all;

“everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”

These last few months have left me thinking about how easily that right is stripped from people. Those who have difficulty communicating in a socially acceptable manner, those who are bullied/coerced into silence through fear, those who are simply never provided the equipment or assistance to be able to communicate with others in a mutually meaningful way and so on and so forth.

As attacks on vulnerable people step up in our society it’s crucially important that we don’t forget about those who can’t join the debate because they are silenced by a lack of access.

  1. Wow, I've just run through the last three months of events in my life, and I simply can't imagine having had to be off-line during that time. There's basic day to day stuff like grocery shopping, shopping for personal items I would cringe to ask anyone for and banking (banking isn't a everyday thing, but an absolutely essential thing I couldn't do in person).

    Then there's the social stuff, which is both active and passive – days I can barely string a sentence together, I can at least look at e-mails, blog and twitter and feel a part of the lives of people I care about.

    My niece was born in August and I was the only close family member who didn't end up being physically present within hours of her birth. I wasn't well enough to travel to see her & my sister for a couple of weeks, and had I been off-line I wouldn't have had nearly the number of updates and photos which made me feel like I was a part of things – I wouldn't have so easily been able to express my love and delight the other way.

    My laptop is dying fast and I've ordered a replacement. Having a laptop which is slow, frequently hanging up and threatening to simply conk out at any time has been a great frustration. It's stopped me being able to do certain things on-line, and has been a big obstacle to my work (I simply could not write without a laptop computer). Spending so much money – especially as I have worn this one out in a little over two years – brings some guilt with it, but I am aware that this is a most essential bit of kit. More important even than my wheelchair or powerchair, shower seat or anything else I have.

    In summary, you have my great sympathies and I hope you begin to feel much better now you're back on-line.


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