If you’ve been on Twitter today chances are you’ve heard about Nadine Dorries suggestion that disabled people who use Twitter should be reported to the DWP for benefit fraud.
For those that don’t know, Nadine Dorries is a conservative MP. She appeared on Towerblock of Commons earlier this year and it’s safe to say she was controversial then and continues to be now.
In the blog entry linked above she suggests that MPs shouldn’t blog. Which clearly makes her a hypocrite, being an MP who is blogging. And she also comments about people who tweet a lot. Her suggestion is that some people are obsessed with tweeting and that we will soon hear about “obsessive tweeters” needing to go to rehab.
I’m not going to deny that the possibility exists that someone could get addicted to twitter. Because people can get addicted to anything. However she then takes it further saying
Is there such a thing as Twitter addiction? How can anyone live a normal life who can do that? Surely these people cannot be in employment because if they are, how can they work? if they aren’t then it’s time they got a job which involves being sat at a key board because there’s nothing much up with their fingers, brain or attention span!!
if it’s someone you know is on benefits, contact the DWP
The obvious implication there is that anyone who is disabled, on benefits and on twitter is clearly able to work and must be committing benefit fraud.
You can’t say that just because someone can tweet they can work.
There are disabled tweeters out there, who do so from bed. Those for whom twitter is the only form of social contact they have because they can’t go out. People like me use twitter so show that being disabled isn’t a terrible thing. And people who can type on a phone or a computer but can’t do much else. You can’t generalise that being able to tweet means you can work. Unless your name is Nadine Dorries, that is!
Tweeting can help people to learn that they aren’t alone. The Disability Snow hashtag from earlier this year was a great example of that. A lot of people were affected by that and it helped to group people together who were having problems. If they couldn’t help people out in real life they could support each other online. Personally being able to reach out to others on Twitter was a great help during the 10 days I couldn’t go out.
There’s also been times I’ve posted on twitter about something that’s happened to me and people have come back and said “me too have you tried…” and that’s useful. I’ve been able to do that for others as well.
And there’s the Disability Voices blog itself. The entire team use twitter and it’s how we all met. If not for twitter this wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be doing what we do.
Obviously Nadine Dorries is not just talking about disabled tweeters, she’s talking about all benefit claimants on twitter as fraudsters. Perhaps she’s missed the fact we’re in a recession. Someone I know is able-bodied and just got a job after being unemployed for two years. She’d had so many interviews she’d decided she wasn’t any good at them. Ms Dorries would suggest that people like that shouldn’t be on twitter. Apparently all they too need to do is get off the ‘net and a job will appear.
All of the Disability Voices team are opposed to the view that all benefit claimants on twitter are fraudsters and would like to use our experiences to show this is not the case.