Helen Keller: Why does the hypothesis of a TikTok conspiracy undermine her tale?


When the Internet is full of theories of conspiracy, choosing which ones to care about can be hard. While QAnon and Pizzagate prove to have radicalizing potential with real-world repercussions, some prosper under the radar, or someone over 25 at least goes unnoticed. My point: TikTok teenagers doubt Helen Keller’s life. I know – I had to read that sentence a couple of times, too. How can it be that Keller’s life is up for discussion? There is current footage of the author, activist and advocate for the rights of people with disabilities who, after a childhood illness, became deaf-blind, learned to communicate and understand others through the Tadoma method with hand gestures, and learned to speak.

She attended Harvard, wrote twelve books and several more lectures and essays. For film and stage, her autobiography was adapted.

She toured the globe campaigning for civil rights, women’s suffrage, and labor rights. The Nazis burned her book on socialism.

In 1968, she died, and her birthplace is now a museum. It seems like none of that matters.

Screenwriter Daniel Kunka, who, when talking to his teenage nephews and nieces, came across the conspiracy theory, said they and other supporters did not doubt Ms. Helen Keller’s life, but the fact that she was both deaf and blind and could still write books.

Leaving the offensiveness of this assumption aside for a moment, the conspiracy seems to have started as a hoax.

Anyone who has ever met a Gen Z member knows they are Internet creatures and, as such, they have an almost remarkable sense of irony. They are walking examples of what “context collapse.” is called.

And yet it seems that some adolescents question the achievements of Keller, or, in some situations, that she was disabled at all.

Any of the videos were deleted, with TikTok telling Newsweek that every post that “dehumanizes others based on disability violates our community guidelines.”

Others stay up, though. Is it because of our own insecurities that a blind, deaf woman who is more successful in life than the rest of us is too much for us to understand?”Is it because of our own insecurities – could it be that a blind, deaf woman who has more success in life than the rest of us is too much to comprehend?” The entire idea is obviously surprisingly capable and serves as an example of the kind of discrimination faced every day by people with disabilities, especially those with invisible disabilities, who may feel attacked by members of the public for using parking spaces or disabled toilets even though they “don’t look disabled.”

Anyone with an ounce of sense knows that individuals, regardless of the hurdles they face, are capable of incredible feats.

Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by flashing his left eyelid after a stroke left him with locked-in syndrome. The Reason I Jump was written by Naoki Higashida, who is profoundly autistic and has limited verbal communication ability, using an alphabet grid.

To write her 1992 Nobody Nowhere memoir, Donna Williams overcame stunning violence and racism. “These are only a few examples of a whole range of literature created over the years by disabled writers. It would be easy to dismiss the theory of Helen Keller as “today’s teens.” That’s maybe what Gen Z wants at some stage. (I’m also half inclined to think it’s all a giant hoax, it’s that stupid.) And yet you’re missing the reality that by focusing all the blame on one generation, these beliefs don’t emerge in a vacuum. Who taught them these views towards disabilities, after all? For eg, are it not men of a certain age who most enthusiastically embrace the abelist, racist, and highly condescending notion instilled in Greta Thunberg, a Gen Z activist? Unless a more nuanced approach towards disability is embraced by society as a whole, stereotypes like these will continue.

All we can do now is have a discussion about basements and capabilities with adolescents in our lives-and how social media spreads misinformation to the point that someone can argue that someone isn’t true….


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