For all you CP Teens UK twitter followers, you will know that I caused a bit of a stir on twitter this week! Out of curiosity, I typed 'cerebral palsy' into the twitter search bar, which consequently showed every single tweet that mentioned cerebral palsy. Now, I'm not one for getting upset when somebody says something negative to do with cerebral palsy; annoying, yes, but I'm not going to stoop to their level and let myself get eaten up. However, I was shocked about the amount of basically just nasty and horrible tweets... people were trying to be funny, but to be honest, they were failing miserably!
There were tweets like... (warning, skip to the next paragraph if you're particularly sensitive!)
'Who the **** takes these pics of these girls thinking they're models, u guys look like u have cerebral palsy'
'I'm so drunk that I've just entered the cerebral palsy stage'
There was also a tweeted picture of a group of friends doing 'cerebral palsy impressions'. There were loads of tweets referring to becoming drunk and entering the 'cerebral palsy stage/phase'. As I said, I'm not usually bothered and I try to see the funny side of everything, but on this occasion, I just felt I had to say something and especially as I was sat using the CP Teens UK account ... so, I tweeted some of them back! My responses included...
'I'm in the 'cerebral palsy phase' everyday of my life, 24/7. I'm glad that it's only a short period for you #dontjoke'
'I have cerebral palsy. You may find it funny, but it's my life. I hope CP doesn't affect you personally one day x'
'Excuse me, I have cerebral palsy and it does not affect appearance!'
I got a variety of reactions. Some were very positive and included apologies, but some clearly didn't know what to do! Interestingly, the individual who tweeted the picture of her group of friends doing 'cerebral palsy impressions', made her account private (i.e. so only certain people that she has accepted can see her account) straight away! Oh, I wonder why?!
Laura (who I met through CP Teens UK, I know I remind you all every time!) and I were discussing this whole situation at athletics last night. You should never take life too seriously and you should always laugh at yourself because it's good and healthy to do so; we love taking the mick out of one another and we're constantly coming out with lines like 'oh for goodness sake, can you walk properly please?!' etc., but when does a joke go too far? I really don't mind my family and friends joking around with me about cerebral palsy, and to be honest, if we didn't have a laugh and a joke, I think we'd all get too caught up in the reality of it all, and I'm not going to lie, I do get myself into some rather funny situations as a direct result of my cerebral palsy! My favourite joke of this week for example was when my parents said 'Please NO smoking or NO tattoos at this festival!' ... 'actually, you wouldn't even be able to hold a cigarette without setting yourself on fire and you wouldn't sit still enough for a tattoo!'.
So, what isn't okay? People who don't know about cerebral palsy and/or have nothing to do with it whatsoever, who stand there, or tweet, or whatever, who go 'hahahahahaha, cerebral palsy', or make cerebral palsy be the butt/punch line of their 'careless' jokes. Do you know what I mean? I hope people don't think I've got double standards because I've said that I don't mind certain people joking about, but can you see the difference? I just don't understand when cerebral palsy became such a joke?
I think that people such as Jack Carroll and Francesca Martinez are absolutely hilarious and their fantastic and clever jokes challenge attitudes and stereotypes! I really hope that people can see where I'm coming from with the different 'types' of joke. The 'jokes' that involve the word 'retard' in relation to cerebral palsy really get to me; oh, so I have 10 GCSE's, 3 A Levels and 3 university places for next year ... but, I'm a 'retard'? Okay then!