Auto-correction of deaf to dead spurring a conversation.
Last week a spoof video (linked here) was released featuring cast members of the Broadway hit, “Spring Awakening.” It was tweeted, tumblred, featured in BroadwayWorld.com and Playbill.com and more by the theatre community and the show’s fans. In it, the word “deaf” is auto-corrected to “dead” in a text message. Full disclosure, my son Alex, who is in the cast, wrote and produced the video.
If you watch the video that includes Oscar winning actor, Marlee Matlin, and Emmy winning actor, Camryn Manheim, you may find it hysterical. I did. But fair warning, I am biased.
Regardless, this video, as it turns out, exposes some of our own societal biases. Deaf people are often ridiculed, starting in elementary school, that they are “dead.” It is one way that our society puts deaf people down.
We tend to do that in our work settings as well. We “clump and dump” groups of people as untrustworthy, stupid, bitches, ugly and more.
And, today, we are witnessing more and more vitriolic language in the current U.S. presidential race clumping and dumping groups of people.
Through Ferguson and other events of the past year, we are witnessing a need for black people to proclaim that “Black lives matter.” We are seeing knee-jerk reactions of people distrusting all Muslims.
In 2016, hopefully we can move forward with less vitriolic language, and be more understanding and accepting of each other.
We can marvel at the strengths and celebrate the differences of those around us. We all overcame something to get where we are today. Some of the scars and challenges of people around us are not visible. Think of the adult who was abused by his father throughout life. Or, imagine the hidden scars of the soldier who overcame PTSD. Or, the pain of a young woman who was raped.
We often walk through each day in a daze. We overlook the pain of others. And, we do not admit our own weaknesses so others in our personal and work lives can fill in our gaps and offer support. In letting others help us, and us helping others, we discover each other’s strength.
Back to Spring Awakening. If you are lucky enough to see this production on Broadway, you will see a cast of deaf and hearing actors who seamlessly support each other. Through sign language and spoken word, the story is told. However, the deaf actors bring a new dimension to theatre. They make it deeper, more meaningful and more poignant. You can see a taste of it here on this segment on NBC’s Late Night With Seth Meyers.
It is an example of teamwork on stage making 1+1=3. It is more.
I hope that as we all look to 2016, we look at our colleagues, and, if we can, help make up for their weaknesses. In turn, I hope that colleagues can make up for yours (me included). If we all do, we will find your own combinations of making 1+1=3.
If someone makes a mistake, be there to graciously autocorrect him or her. If we can all do that, and leave no one for dead – we will thrive.