Empathy is some TikTok users' real challenge

Disability, Inclusion -

Empathy is some TikTok users' real challenge

TikTok recently removed the hashtag #autismchallenge from its platform after users started creating videos mocking autistic people. It's hard to believe that such an action would have to be taken in 2020, but here we are. 

Obviously, TikTok did the right thing here (although it is worth mentioning that the platform has also limited the reach of some disabled users' posts to "prevent bullying", which is a problematic approach in itself). What troubles us is that these users didn't perceive what they were doing as bullying or, even worse, that they knew it was but did it anyway. 

What allows people to create this kind of content without experiencing guilt or concern? Is the desire to 'go viral' potent enough to overcome empathy? Is empathy being strained by the pressures of the situation we're currently living through? Is this indicative of a lack of understanding around disability in general? Are non-disabled people inclined towards viewing disabled people as an 'other', making it easier to take part in this kind of callous, group-driven behaviour?

What do you think causes this kind of bullying on social media? What is the best way to respond to and counteract it? How do you think social media platforms should approach this issue?


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