If I had a pound for every time a stranger on the internet told me to get a job, I wouldn’t need a job. It doesn’t matter whether I’m singing a silly song about being non-binary, discussing how inaccessible something is, or just having fun online, this comment seems to crop up on my feed time and time again. There is only one reason I can think of why someone would jump to the conclusion that I do not have a job; that my screen name contains the word disabled.
The world of work is full of challenges for disabled people. Many workplaces are inaccessible, commuting can be very problematic, and the law around giving employees reasonable adjustments to accommodate for their disabilities is fuzzy enough that many try and do get away with not providing employees with the support they need to be able to do their job. Finding work that pays fairly and fits around a few medical appointments is even harder. It is therefore perfectly understandable why many disabled people do not work, even those where it is technically possible for them; the barriers to work for disabled people would make the most dedicated worker question their commitment to their employer.
That said, there are plenty of disabled people who do work, and even more who want to work even if they are currently unemployed. It is almost as if the general public has collectively forgotten that Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the most prominent scientists of recent decades, was very visibly disabled. There is no correlation between the words “disabled” and “unemployed” whatsoever, yet still almost every disabled person who dares to have an online presence will have had this comment, regardless of their employment status.
I have (rather foolishly, perhaps) tried to tell these people that I do, in fact, have a job. Most are wise enough to stay silent at this point, but some demand that I prove it, as if they have any authority to make that demand. Worse still are the ones who claim that being a data manager running clinical trials in cancer research is not a real job, which I still don’t understand. As dedicated as I am to all things medical, I would not do what I do purely for the heck of it.
It is somewhat ironic that the people who leave these comments are also most likely the ones responsible for the barriers disabled people face in employment; the people incredulous at requests for reasonable adjustments and accessibility, and who make being around them as a disabled person uncomfortable with invasive questions. I would stake good money on these people also being the ones to accuse someone of fakery for being able to have a job, so fixated are they on the notion that disability and unemployment are synonymous that they undermine their own agenda.
To those who leave the titular comment, I have just one more thing to say; if you are so bored that you trawl social media looking for disabled people in order to question their employment status, I can think of far better ways to spend your time. Get a life.