Sunday, March 1, 2015

Can online blogs replace the Ragged Edge?

While it is difficult to deny that the Ragged Edge provided a forum to spread disability rights, the Ragged Edge nonetheless failed to get the subscriptions needed in order to keep the Ragged Edge in business.  As the Ragged Edge was phased out, blogs written by people with disabilities became increasingly more popular.

The Ragged Edge provided a supportive community for people with disabilities to read stories on the experiences of other people with disabilities, to understand the shared anger among the disability rights community, and to spread the word about the issues that arise for people with disabilities throughout American society.  However, the Ragged Edge quickly began to be replaced by online blogs.

In many ways, the new online blogs are similar to the Ragged Edge.  Both provide a forum for people with disabilities to read writing by fellow people with disabilities.  To some people, this makes what the writer is saying more credible because they have lived experiences to support their views.  In addition, both the Ragged Edge and online blogs provide access to what can be seen as “forbidden narratives.”  While some might argue that these narratives are much more accepted today than when the Ragged Edge was first published, due in large part to publications such as the Ragged Edge, the narrative of people with disabilities and their rejection of current social structure is still not an accepted narrative today.  When people with disabilities reject being pitied, reject “help” when the “help” is actually no help at all, and reject notions that they are unable to perform certain tasks, people without disabilities tend to not understand.  People without disabilities don’t want to hear these narratives.  Perhaps, it is because people without disabilities want to feel good about themselves; they want to feel as though they are helping the people with disabilities and that their efforts are appreciated.  Ultimately, they want the narratives to be about what they are doing right, rather than narratives about people with disabilities.  This is not what these narratives, both in the Ragged Edge and in online blogs, is aimed at doing.

However, the Ragged Edge and online blogs are different in ways as well.  For example, while the Ragged Edge had a group of people who screened the articles that would be printed, most online blogs don’t have any regulation.  Online blogs also have the ability to reach many more readers.  While the Ragged Edge relied on people subscribing and having hard paper copies sent to them, online blogs can be found with the search of just one keyword and can reach people not only throughout the United States, but also people internationally who have access to the internet.

Are there enough similarities for online blogs to provide a sufficient replacement of the Ragged Edge?  I think for many people these blogs are enough.  The blogs are providing a forum for many more people to express their feelings than ever before.  Blogs are extremely accessible.  For that reason, there is a blog for almost anything a person is feeling, almost any experience a person has had, and almost any type of support a person could be seeking.

Are there enough differences for online blogs to continue to thrive in ways that the Ragged Edge failed to do?  I think the blogs’ ability to reach a greater amount of readers and the greater number of people who can participate in blogging led blogging to become the current thriving form of disability rights narratives.  I cannot say that it will thrive forever.  One day a newer and more appealing way to tell these narratives will come along and replace online blogging.  One day, hopefully, we won’t need to tell narratives focused solely on people with disabilities because there will be no discrimination and full inclusion.  However, until then, online blogging seems to be effective in telling these narratives.

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