Perceptions of The Developmentally Disabled Brought to Light by The New York Times

In the New York Times series, Abused and Used, the situations of developmentally disabled citizens are examined.  With this series in mind, Zoe Wool has written a Savage Mind article titled “Valuing Life, Death, and Disability: Sorting People in the New York Times” looks at the way in which we, as a society, classify and sort people.  Wool, who does a lot of work with military veterans, explains the overlapping conception that we have of biological facts, and misguided interpretations.    

Because culture can be both created and examined through creative outlets, the New York Times shows a great example of how we, as a society, define disabled citizens.  The way in which we go about quantifying the unquantifiable involving mental disabilities could be a direct factor in why these grouped-peoples are being mistreated.  The series of articles not only brings to light the unethical mistreatment of these citizens, but also unintentionally shows in print the way in which we come to categorize and understand a group of people

If anyone is interested in knowing more about these articles the first article in the NYTimes series is linked above on its title, and I am also linking the 2011 video that Zoe Wool was inspired by —

The Death of James Taylor 



Fished or Fishing? Internet Deception and “Catfishing”


The term “catfish” was introduced and popularized by Yanev Shulman, a filmmaker and former prey to an online catfish. In “Catfishing: The Truth About Deception Online”, New York anthropologist, Krystal D’Costa explains the phenomenon of these online false identities. With a rise in the success of online dating services, and a decrease in their previously negative stigma, the number of virtual relationship, both honest and dishonest, has drastically increased over the past few years.

Similarly to any initial face-to-face interaction, hopeful Internet users post their best attributes for others to see. Users often also portray information that they believe will attract the kind of person they are looking for. D’Costa discusses a women who chooses the wording in her profile deliberately to “avoid sounding ‘cutesy’ because she wanted to avoid people who might be looking for a less serious relationship” than she was. A catfish comparably uses the same deliberate techniques to find a person who fits the relationship they are searching for.

The reasons for a person to create a false online identity are as numerous as the ways in which people go about doing it.  A catfish creates his or her profile with purpose and intent, just like social media user or online dating hopeful. They are searching for a certain type of relationship, and create profile in reflection and in search of that. Next time you change your profile picture or like a page on Facebook, consider your motivations behind your decision. What version of yourself are you putting up for other to see?

Learning Styles and the Sexes


Deborah Tannen is a linguistics professor at George Washington University.  She has gained recognition for both her scholarly articles and as a New York Times Best Selling Author.  Most of her published work, including That’s Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships, and You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, surrounds the effects and causes of common dialectal differences between men and women.  In her article How Male and Female Students Use Language Differently, Tannen references the work of other anthropologists and sociologists who have researched how boys and girls speak differently in their same-sex friend groups.  Tannen goes on to explain that the practice of different communication styles among boys and girls changes as they mature and separate into these peer groups.  It is among their peers that a strong dialectal distinction between males and females can be observed.  In her article, Tannen describes that males tend be involved in large social groups, and females tend to have closer relationships but with fewer people.  Tannen believes that these social practices carry over into how students of the opposing sexes interact in the classroom and therefore with the material being taught.  Common social patterns often leave girls less prepared than boys, who are more accustom to those large social groups which often seem to better prepare them for involvement in classrooms where they speak to many people, debate each other, and are challenged.  In my opinion, the subject of how male and female students learn is extremely important in the ongoing conversation of education reform in America.  Classrooms that cater primarily to the learning style of a single sex perpetuate the issue of social and economic inequality of men and women.

Citation:  Tannen, Deborah. “How Male and Female Students Use Language Differently.”Ourselves among Others: Cross-cultural Readings for Writers. New York: St. Martin’s, 1988. 356-62. Print.