“I Have Learnt These Things by Myself, Because I Always Thought That I Must Overcompensate for My Disability”: Learning to Perform Dis/abled Identity in Social Media

Nomy Bitman


Learning how to perform an identity in social media is a complex, two-stage process: lifelong environmental learning through socialization and acculturation mediated by self-comparison to others, and the transformation of this learned information into personal knowledge about how to develop one’s identity online. However, disability performance complicates this learning process through oppressive able-bodied medicalization, especially of concealable communicative disabilities. Based on 31 in-depth interviews with autistics, stutterers, and hard-of-hearing users, and 7 social media documentation diaries, this article provides a comprehensive perspective that presents dis/ability performances as a product of powerful learning aspects that involve both disability-related and “able-bodied” dimensions of learning. Although individuals learn how to deal with social media violence regardless of their disabilities, social, cultural, and technical learning of how to be a disabled person in the world dramatically influences dis/ability performances and perpetuates the complexity of performing a disabled self.


social media, social learning, disability performance, disability studies, disability media studies, stutterers, hard-of-hearing, autistics

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