We moeten praten over genieten van de lockdown …mei 15, 2020
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So I saw a Twitter poll yesterday with a very simple question: have you enjoyed the lockdown? Yes, no, can’t decide.
In 24hrs in 1500 votes indicated ‘yes’ as the most popular option. News today that Twitter itself is extending work from home privileges to all employees permanently, a massive win for neurominorities, disabled people and those with caring responsibilities. It is apparent that for many the lockdown has been a much needed change of pace, yet the privilege is not extended to all.
A Way Of Life That Suits Your Neurotype
I’m writing today, quietly watching the sunrise from my window, my dog curled up on her ledge in the sunshine, the clock ticking and my children stirring. It’s peaceful, I can focus. The hurly burly of getting kids ready for the bus, thinking about which train I need to get, pouring myself into high heels to totter down the road is a forgotten dream. I’ll be taking a lunch break with my kids and husband, walking the dog before dinner and I will actually have an evening. When I cycle to the local shops, people are friendly. We take time to chat (at a respectful distance) and strangers are acknowledged with a hello, or a smile and nod. Isn’t this what life is supposed to be like?
I’ve long been of the opinion that conditions like ADHD and autism aren’t exponentially increasing in prevalence not because people are sick, but because society is. I’ve spent many years researching neurodiversity academically. I’ve read the neuroscience, the sociology, the educo-normative papers and honestly, I can’t find the bits of the brain that are broken, just different. I can see a natural variety of people, some more neurologically sensitive than others, increasingly forced to participate in mass gatherings (schools, transport) and decreasingly able to live in quiet places where they can hear the clock ticking and the birds singing. I can see a variety of bodies, some more athletic than others, increasingly corralled into sedentary roles where they cannot move before, during or after being required to concentrate. I can see people who think in 3D mechanical forced to express themselves only through the medium of 2d sequential code (writing) and discouraged to draw, build, make, design.
I’ve also witnessed the acceleration of assistive technology being ignored in mainstream schools and jobs, where people fail for the want of a specialist literacy package costing a less than an annual Netflix subscription. But this has all changed recently, hasn’t it? All of a sudden we’re communicating via video, not text. We’re investing in tech support broadly. We’re allowing people their own space, and the lack of travel has built flexibility into our schedules for more exercise and family time. In other words, the lockdown has turned back the clock in some ways, and pressed fast forwards in others.
Recognising Our Privilege
However, I could not give the twitter poll a straight ‘yes’, because it is clear that so many people are suffering enormously in this crisis. What I don’t like about the lockdown is the inegalitarian application of these benefits. Those who have no choice but to go out to work, and the pressure that has put on their health, wellbeing and families. Children who cannot benefit from more flexible learning because they do not have access to laptops or WiFi. Those without space for a peaceful morning by the window with a curled up pooch. Diversity and Inclusion has always been about equality, social justice. We need to drive inclusion with a push and a pull – the pull of how dynamic our world could be with everyone working at their best and the push of common decency, wanting to ensure that no one is left behind. The case is building across the world for universal access to technology, connectivity and a basic income, these aspects will unleash talent in pockets we’ve been trying to reach. By raising the baseline for those who are currently disadvantaged, the intellectual capital that is freed will direct itself to creative and innovative pursuits; people worried about sensory overwhelm, travel logistics, running out of cash and caring responsibilities don’t think at their best. But if those jobs were equitably valued, if travel was less frenetic and if communication was more flexible in general, who knows what is possible? Forward thinking companies like Twitter are going to attract diversity naturally, without the need for manufactured programs. Inclusion may become an obsolete word, once flexible working and social justice has become the norm.