chapter  9
Disability and Social Media
ByKatie Ellis, Gerard Goggin
Pages 18

Social media is social. It is important for us all and it should be open to all. . . . It is not necessarily about living a life on the Internet. It is about bypassing distance in the real world, making new friends, and participating in all the conversations between our family members and the communities we live in. . . . Social media can break down barriers and change lives. For example, a hearing impaired child can now share stories with their friends via Skype, and a vision impaired user can read about his brother’s trip to the Far East via a blog site. . . . Social media is truly social. It connects the dots. (Cahill & Hollier, 2009)


Media have long been social. The social nature, functions, and implications of media are something that have been widely debated, especially with the new kinds of convergent, digital media centering on the internet that have emerged since the early 1990s. As discussed in this book, the term social media is now widely used to indicate particular qualities of digital media. Central to social media are social networks; interactivity; the role of users in generating media content; participatory cultures; sharing; reliance on personal information; locational technologies, mapping and navigation; mobile media; and new kinds of closed versus open platforms. The implication of social media in the reshaping of media cultures, social relations, and everyday life is something that is being avidly researched and debated. As yet, there is little work on disability and social media-a fascinating and important topic. Critical theories over the past two decades have contributed much to our understanding that disability is as much a social phenomenon as it is a bodily, material, economic, technological, spiritual,

and philosophical matter. Disability, then, has much to tell us about what the social in social media means.