Culture Social media

Using social media and blogging for change: Influencer advocates for people with a disability

Image: Canva

Want a light – hearted story?

Peta Hooke is a social media influencer.

People may look at the terms ‘social media influencer’ and have certain ideas. Chances are, Peta Hooke doesn’t fit those ideas.

She has cerebral palsy and uses a an electric wheelchair.

Hooke uses Instagram to advocate for people with disabilities.

At first, Hooke was hesitant. She told ABC Life that she feared that Instagram wasn’t a safe place for people with disabilities.

I remember when Instagram became a thing in my friendship group in the summer of 2011. At the time, Instagram didn’t feel like a safe space for someone like me.

Hooke worried that Instagram was just another platform for the privileged.

Hooke joined Instagram

Hooke ended up joining Instagram. She created a heavily private account and she admired attractive influencers.

She then started a podcast and used Instagram to promote her advocacy.

She said utilising Instagram made her “sick with dread”.

Despite her fears, no one laughed at Hooke. In fact, she has built up a supportive community of followers.

Using social media for advocacy

Since building a following, Hooke has used her daily life and content to educate and change minds. She also aims to expand what people define as having a disability.

She wants to inspire people with disabilities:

I hope through my presence on Instagram I am implicitly encouraging other disabled people to find the same power.

People with disabilities need visibility. And chances

Black woman in wheelchair on a footpath down the street
Image: iStock

When I first read about Peta Hooke, I thought it was great. People with disabilities: physical, intellectual or mental need a chance.

They need chances to live and to work, just like anyone else. Unfortunately, people with disabilities are over represented in unemployment statistics.

Having people with disabilities visible and mainstream is important. People need to realise that people with disabilities are just people. They may need a little help or slight adjustments. They can be a baser to society when given the chance.

Challenging beauty standards and influencer culture

It’s great that Hooke uses her platform to challenge beauty standards and influencer culture. People are becoming more and more aware of the damage social media can do. For years, people have worried about teens and influencer culture’s impact on their self – esteem and mental health.

Creator and former Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has even admitted that platforms like Instagram were made to be addictive. Algorithms are deliberately programmed in a way to make certain images popular.

A call to able – bodied people

Anyone can be a part of the change. For those in privileged positions, please consider supporting content creators from marginalised communities.

Like, share and follow their content. Show other people the talents and abilities of people with disabilities. And for those who do support content creators with disabilities (including my followers), thank you very much.



The demise of podcast ‘The Sydney Gays’: what does it mean for LGBTQ+ creators?

Podcast microphone
Image: iStock

As a content creator and someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community, this story hit me.

The article is about the demise of the podcast The Sydney Gays, which ended after only four episodes.

The hosts, Wil Sabin and Jay Fisher copped fierce backlash after the first episode, Chic or Sh*t. LGBTQ+ listeners were some of their critics; they were accused for perpetuating stereotypes.

On their second episode, Fisher and Sabin apparently peddled back and tried to be more authentic.

The fourth episode, The Dark Side of the Rainbow was the last one uploaded. They spoke about some of the alleged vicious trolling they received. This included being compared to chemotherapy and receiving death threats. Fisher and Sabin claimed they were worried about the affect it had on their loved ones.

The cost of LGBTQ+ rights?

I never heard the Sydney Gays podcast. But when I was reading the article and planning this post, a question came to mind: is the backlash against The Sydney Gays a reflection on the pressure LGBTQ+ people feel to appear ‘normal’? Is that why some of their critics were LGBTQ+ themselves?

Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of a non – LGBTQ+ creator being reprimanded to pipe down and act more ‘authentic’.

Is this a cost for the gain in rights that LGBTQ+ people have gained, especially same – sex marriage, which became law in 2017?

Now, it may be that (e listeners found their Sydney Gays annoying. If that’s the case, then, sure, they could tone down the exaggerations and make their presentation more professional.

However, my concern is if the backlash against Sabin and Fisher is a sign that LGBTQ+ creators will have ‘rules’ placed on them that wouldn’t apply to others. I hope LGBTQ+ creators won’t have to repeatedly ‘prove’ themselves to be OK.

What should creators tolerate?

Some creators have criticised Sabin and Fisher for giving up too soon. Music, event and video producer, Dan Murphy pointed out the iTunes charts, claiming that Sydney Gays got a number of listeners people would “kill for”. This would have been driven by both the positive and negative feedback.

Murphy himself is no stranger to negative feedback. Despite rave reviews for an early video that featured a group of drag queens, one of his later videos featuring a mob dance for BMW was blasted. News and marketing website, Mumbrella, crucified it.

While I get that creators should expect criticism and even harshness, death threats are not on. Sabin and Fisher even expressed concern for loved ones and how they could be affected. This has to be condemned. It’s also tragic when that sort of bullying kills someone’s creative pursuit. In a way, the bullies have won because of the collapse of Sydney Gays. But it shouldn’t have happened anyway.

All creators, including those from the LGBTQ+ community should be able to create without fear. Nobody should be pressured by bullies into stopping their creative project. And, most importantly, I hope this isn’t the start of a trend where LGBTQ+ creators are bullied into silence.