So once again Snapchat, in all its weird dysmorphic glory, gave itself a facial paralysis-mimicking filter.
It’s funny, because in some ways I’m not completely insensitive to the weirdness of medical conditions. I sometimes laugh to myself as I delete the Google Alerts I get listing Moebius Syndrome as
Top Ten Weird Medical Things!!!
…but somehow, I can’t take this with a grain of salt.
I admit: I don’t get Snapchat. I’m not a fan of notifications on my phone, not an overly-selfie kind of person. So sending slightly distorted photos of yourself to friends just seems a bit odd.
Having said that, there is a difference between the humor in superimposing dog nose and ears onto yourself and playing around with morphing your face and thinking of that as funny.
There is humor in everything. Even facial paralysis. But that humor needs to come from the source. From people with facial paralysis. It doesn’t need to come from pretending and emphasizing the oddity.
I hope we in the facial paralysis community continue to create our own humor, and that it overpowers the humor of the Weird that things like Snapchat filters emphasize.
I will be the first to admit it: I don’t really “do” Snapchat. I downloaded it but then just never checked it enough to actually see things, and the inability to browse users without knowing their exact username is maddening. I’ve played around with it a bit and don’t hate it… I just don’t have time to constantly keep up with it.
This week Snapchat came out with a bunch of new morphing filters… One of which gives the impression of one-sided facial paralysis. <<headdesk moment>> I mean besides the more obvious question to me of why it’s entertaining to send weird morphed photos of yourself to friends, it also comes back to the fact that it’s supposed to be funny. And that differences in appearance aren’t inherently funny or things to be gawked at.
I’ve probably written this before here, but appearance differences are kind of a strange medical condition to have. You skirt the line between the disability community and “passing” – but neither are quite right. I’m almost thankful sometimes that my orthopedic and neurological and autoimmune (phew, that’s a mouthful!) issues made it easier for me to join the disability community at a crucial age.
Appearance djfferences without other impairments aren’t quite embraced as disabilities by some…and since they aren’t thought of as a protected class, it’s not seen as in poor taste do things like presenting facial paralysis as a funny and weird thing you can try on. (Now by no means am I against humor: check out some of David Roche’s material about facial differences).
I don’t think Snapchat will remove the filter, so all I can hope for is that people start to think a little bit before using it. Some great organizations are working towards that goal, and I’m looking forward to what they are able to achieve.