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A Portrait of the Alt-Bro as a Young Dumbass

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by Gavin Tomson

It’s 11AM on the 4th day of Spring Break. He’s reading Steppenwolf at a minimal loft cafe that sells tote bags and leather notebooks and beard lube. He's drinking a $4 Americano and debating whether he should step outside to roll a cigarette. Earlier today, when he arrived at the café, which by the way is called “Brooklyn,” he thought to himself, One ought only to smoke on weekends. Yet Spring Break is currently revealing-itself-to-him-as-weekend, so he goes outside to smoke. As he observes, flâneuristically, the soft light play upon the Portuguese Church steeples across him, he feels he’s on the verge of a profound realization, a Joycean epiphany, something that will blow his mind. Google, is he manic-depressive? Sometimes he feels so much, it’s almost unbearable. There’s no way most people feel as much as he does. He’s unique. He might be a genius. He’s certainly heterosexual. He’s probably going to grad school.

He is the Alternative-Bro.

Dumpster diving though his rent is paid for him, arranging gatherings between radicals less privileged than he, calling everything “dialectical,” listening to chillwave, perpetually nodding, feeling “depressed”: this is what the Alt-Bro lives for. This is what intoxicates him “in a particularly Dionysian way.”

The Alt-Bro is now thinking, as he observes an elderly woman enter the Portuguese church, Religion has done a lot of terrible things, obviously, but it has done a lot of good things, also, and this is something most people don’t understand. The Alt-Bro wishes most people thought about things as much as he does. He’s neither elitist nor classist, but he doesn’t trust people who don’t “fundamentally feel ideas.” He says things like, “But then you start to think in iambic pentameter and it’s fucked.” The Alt-Bro takes himself seriously.

The Alt-Bro has a gift for looking like he’s thinking. His desktop background is of Swedish architecture. The Alt-Bro is in “an open relationship” with a girl who doesn’t call it an “open relationship.” He claims to be attracted to "both men and women," though he finds “something special" about women. He doesn't know what it is. It is a mystery.

The Alt-Bro is “passed” binary thinking. He’s interested in Buddhism, though only intellectually. He’s “really getting into non-duality these days.”

The Alt-Bro is always really getting into something. He cares about ideas so much! The Alt-Bro has witnessed too many of his intellectual peers succumb to caring about lesser things such as gender and postcolonialism. The group of self-identified queers who run his university’s left-wing newspaper and volunteer at community kitchens and publish their undergraduate essays in graduate journals are “pretty chill,” the Alt-Bro guesses, but “what they fail to realize is that some things transcend politics.” The Alt-Bro never fails to realize.

The Alt-Bro is always “transcending” something. The Alt-Bro uses “Dude” as punctuation. “Dude” can mean “!” or “.” or even “:”

The Alt-Bro tells sad stories about his childhood to girls in their bedrooms. Yeah, well, in one sense, he does consider himself a feminist, but “it’s just so much more complex than that.”

The Alt-Bro believes he’s a good person. The Alt-Bro pretends he has self-hating thoughts. At house parties, the Alt-Bro asks girls if they’ve read The Doors of Perception. He tells them they should read Hunter S. Thompson and “get into gonzo journalism,” though he himself doesn’t plan to write journalism because it’s “too commercially contingent” and besides, he’d rather work on his novel. His novel is tentatively entitled, Towards Death.

In his bedroom, the Alt-Bro keeps a bottle of whiskey next to his case of vinyl records and Kim Jong Il’s On the Art of the Cinema. The Alt-Bro jerks off to X-Art on YouPorn. Afterward he logs onto Facebook without washing his hands.

The Alt-Bro doesn’t have “much faith” in Judith Butler. The Alt-Bro is going to get a PhD. Probably he’ll get a PhD in philosophy but he “doesn’t really know German” (or French) and he’s open to other options “if and only if” he doesn’t have to “fall from the realm of ideas.”

The Alt-Bro thinks things like, Imagine how much more beautiful the world would be if you believed God created it.

The Alt-Bro is deeper than you.

The Alt-Bro lives in a loft space with three other Alt-Bros. Together they arrange “good people gatherings” and ingest psychedelics and play drone music and make ephemeral screen-prints of vaguely Japanese foliage. At the beginning of these gatherings, the Alt-Bro says to the other attendees, also Alt-Bros, “What matters most is not the art we plan to make today, but that we all came together, to be in this space.” The Alt-Bro loves talking about space and he loves nodding. The Alt-Bros all nod together because they’re such good dudes.

The Alt-Bro’s inner world is full of conflict. He keeps death in mind in order to live authentically.

The Alt-Bro says things like, “I’m in love with solitude.” He says, “I love to to take long walks in the forest, as Nietzsche did.” The Alt-Bro manages to be at once earnest and oblivious to what other people think of him. The Alt-Bro romanticizes mental illness. He feels "pretty insane sometimes."

The Alt-Bro thinks all his friends will become intellectuals. He lives his life like he’s the protagonist of an un-ironic Künstlerroman. “Is it impossible for a guy and a girl to have a relationship that’s not romantic?” he asks women his age or younger. The Alt-Bro finds something cruel about humor, yet he hasn’t uncovered what precisely it is.

The Alt-Bro listens to Ethiopian jazz.
The Alt-Bro wants to astral-project.
The Alt-Bro who reads this will think he’s an exception.

At a party, the Alt-Bro speaks to a queer anarchist with a lisp about beekeeping. The Alt-Bro says, “Don’t affect that lisp. It’s offensive to people who have lisps.”

For lunch, the Alt-Bro eats cheese and baguettes because Europe is better. The Alt-Bro endorses collective politics so long as he gets to lead. The Alt-Bro bikes everywhere without a helmet and keeps his bike chain looped to his belt and never signals. “I know I look like I’m completely out of control when I’m biking,” he tells people, “but I’m actually completely in control.”

The Alt-Bro doesn't shit talk. The Alt-Bro "discusses what people are like."

The Alt-Bro will finish his undergrad and pursue an MA at the university where he did his undergrad. He’ll barely pass his classes because he’ll be too busy writing a “philosophical column” in the undergraduate left-wing newspaper which will be run by a fresh batch of precocious self-identified queers who replaced the old ones because the old ones have moved on.

The Alt-Bro will develop a general sense of malaise with the world as he’s experiencing it. He’ll claim to have an existential crisis. He’ll cut his hair and record an EP called Guilt.

The Alt-Bro will actually start to feel guilty. His guilt will impel him to have another realization: I should stop intellectualizing things so much and just act. The Alt-Bro will apply to speak at panels on gender and colonialism. He won’t get accepted to speak at any of them. The Alt-Bro will tell people he’s moving to Berlin but will instead move to Brooklyn because in Brooklyn people speak English. He’ll “live as a writer” for two weeks. Then he’ll return to his loft space because he doesn’t have a job and he hasn’t written anything and everyone in Brooklyn looks like him, just more hip.

The Alt-Bro will receive his graded MA thesis in the mail and check his eyesight. He’ll realize yet another thing: I don’t have the grades to apply to PhDs. The Alt-Bro will call his parents and tell them he wants to apply to another MA program. They’ll say, “But you already have an MA,” and the Alt-Bro will argue with them and hang up. That afternoon, the Alt-Bro will meet a young woman for coffee. They are "really good friends, but it's platonic." He’ll complain about his problems. The young woman will finally say, ending their friendship, “You need to grow up.”

The Alt-Bro will begin feel real depression. He’ll get scared because though he’s talked so much about being depressed, he’s never actually been depressed.

The next four weeks the Alt-Bro will spend unemployed, nodding at drone shows. At one of these shows he’ll meet a 2nd-year Art History student outside having a smoke. The Alt-Bro will ask her for a cigarette and then talk about himself and his problems. The 2nd-year Art History student will mistake his self-indulgence for vulnerability. Later that night, after the venue closes, they’ll eat bagels together at a 24-Hour diner. By then the Alt-Bro will feel too fatigued to talk, so he’ll just keep nodding. The Alt-Bro loves to nod. The Art History student will mistake his constant nodding for listening. The next afternoon she’ll ask him via text message if he wants to hang out and he’ll say, “Yeah.”

The 2nd-year Art History student and the Alt-Bro will hang out a few times in his big loft bedroom. He’ll talk about how scared he feels. The 2nd-year Art History student will try to comfort him by “putting things in perspective.” Soon this pattern will feel repetitive, so she’ll ask, “Why don’t we go outside and do something?” The Alt-Bro will tell her he’s too depressed to do something. She’ll say, “I understand that, but sometimes it really does help to get out of the house.”

Later that week, the two of them will bike to a public park and drink wine and smoke the Alt-Bro’s rolled cigarettes. The wine will remind the Alt-Bro of art, so he’ll start asking the Art History student about her interests and childhood. She’ll tell him a lot, and she’ll start to feel vulnerable. The next day the Alt-Bro will hardly respond to her texts. When he does, he’ll space his responses in such a way that must be deliberate. The 2nd-year Art History student will come over to his loft space and find him in his bedroom. She’ll ask, voice warbling, “What do you want from this?” The Alt- Bro will turn to the wall and mumble something incoherent. The 2nd-year Art History student will ask, “What?” He’ll say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know. I’m just confused about everything.” Feeling hurt and manipulated, the 2nd-year Art History student will leave the Alt-Bro’s loft space and ignore his apologetic texts.

The Alt-Bro will go on to study architecture.

Gavin Tomson is the recent winner of The Dalhousie Review's inaugural short story contest and his writing is forthcoming in Maisonneuve and Joyland. He lives in Toronto, where he works as a publicity agent for The Puritan and writes for its bloggy appendage, the Town Crier. Illustration by Vincent Tao.

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3 hours ago
Melbourne, Australia
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Adventures in Sexting: An Interview with Kara Stone

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by Megan Patterson

kara-stone-photoKara Stone makes the games she wants to play. A Toronto-based artist, her primary mediums are interactive films and video games; her first game, Medication, Meditation was a Kill Screen Playlist Pick. Her latest, Sext Adventure, was recently chosen to be showcased at Indiecade.

Users playing Sext Adventure will find themselves sexting with an automated bot. The results of your sexting adventure are entirely up to you—the bot’s responses vary wildly. There is no way to predict the outcome of the game. Sext Adventure was designed to give the bot its own consciousness, personality, and sexuality as players progress. The bot can even reject its sexuality altogether, if it so chooses.

I first played Sext Adventure at a Dames Making Games event, where I was working on my own project. Together with Nadine Lessio, who coded the txtr engine Sext Adventure was built on, Kara had been working on her project all weekend, weekend and everyone was excited to try the her demo. When we finally got to test it for ourselves, the room went silent as we hunched over our phones, sexting a bot, the only sounds a few nervous giggles.
Kara aimed to make a game that explores issues of technology, gender, and digital intimacy. She’s part of a growing number of female developers, such as anna anthropy, Zoe Quinn, and merritt kopas, amongst others, who are making video games on their own terms. Their games explore depression and illness, gender and sexuality, feminist issues like objectification and harassment.

Often, these games are maligned by mainstream game press and players as “not-games.” I have no use for that bullshit. These are all video games, and all the more important because people don’t want to see them as such.

I had the chance to speak with Kara at Bento Miso earlier this month. We talked about gaming, gender, sex, mental health, and exactly what qualifies as a game.

Why video games? When did you start using video games as your medium?
I always loved games, but I had never even thought about making them, beyond maybe daydreaming about being a writer for Blizzard. I went to art school, and I had worked in film— production as well as making interactive films—which is a very small step away from video games, if a step at all.

I came across Dames Making Games at Vector Game Art Festival two years ago. Cecily Carver was there giving a talk about Dames Making Games as an organization and I was like, *gasp!* “I can make video games!?” Like, no one had ever told me that before. It seemed like something that only very techy, white dudes do. But when it was presented like, “You can, it’s not that hard!” I was like, “Oh, cool!” I thought it would be a fun way to transition from doing experimental, interactive video, into doing something with more possibilities.

Did you find that a lot of your skills from filmmaking crossed over into video games?
Yes and no. Some things like writing, and some production stuff do, depending on the tool. In the film world, I worked as an editor and I was seen as pretty techy. Then I started working in video games and I’m, like, the least techy person. It’s such a funny transition. But I had never done digital art design and I’d never programmed things.

What was the first game you made?
I made Medication, Meditation at Junicorn, which was a four-week series of workshops run by Dames Making Games, where ten women or gender non-binary people make their first video game.

My project was a video game about the work of living with mental illness, the kind of boring, mundane work that we don’t really pay attention to when we talk about mental health. We talk about diagnosis and going to the hospital, but we don’t really talk about having to meditate every day to stay calm, or having to take your medication at the same time every day so you don’t like, disrupt your mood. You know? These things that are boring but also a struggle. I really wanted the game to focus on the mundane parts, to be calming, but also somewhat disrupting.


Why did you decide to make a game about mental health?
It’s a very personal game. I made it about my own experiences. It’s hard to communicate how much of a struggle some things are, and how draining it can be just doing all of the really mundane things to make sure you are balanced.

I thought video games were a good medium for talking about mental health, because a lot of games are about getting better, winning and improving. I wanted to critique that, or at least, approach video games in a less linear sense while also talking about mental health. The rhetoric around mental health is also about getting better and beating it, and overcoming this obstacle, you know? For a lot of people, like me, it’s never really going to end. There’s no end point.

What was the response to Medication, Meditation like?
It was a really interesting experience. It was one of the first art pieces that I did that was really personal. And I found that to be such a good experience—it allowed people to really connect with it, to reach out to me. I had emails from people being like, “My brother has issues with mental illness, what do I do?” And I’m like, “I don’t know, I can’t help you, I made a video game!” But it was like an interesting, community building aspect, to be so open and have people respond.

Did you find it difficult to make such a personal game?
Yes. (laughs) I did.

I believe that!
I’m more comfortable talking about it now, but it’s just been three years of going through a diagnosis, going through the mental health system. Before that, I was going through all the same issues, but I was so closed off. I wouldn’t even address it to myself. And…yeah, I am more comfortable talking about it now, and showing it, but at the same time, I really feel like there’s a bit of a disconnection because I’m really so used to talking about it now. I know what to say, I have my thing, and I say it, and that’s fine.

How did you start working on Sext Adventure?
I’d seen Nadine Lessio’s Cat Quest and thought it was super cool. It’s a very short texting game that you play on your phone. And I was like, “What other things can be done with this technology?”

I immediately thought of sexting because, by definition, it has to be done on your phone. It’s very specific to the medium. What I find so interesting is that the engine we’re building these things on is also a new medium.

I’d also been reading a lot about cyborgs and digital intimacy, how intimacy is translated through phones, how humans interact with each other, and how it’s changed again through technology. Sexting was a funny and fun example of that.

You mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago that a lot of women that hear the title Sext Adventure, and they just hear the word “sext” and assume that it’s made to appeal to guys, and not women. When that’s not remotely true at all!
Yes, totally! I think partly it’s the assumption that video games are for men, and I think if I heard about a sexting game, I’d be like, “Ugh, it’s gonna be hetero, it’s gonna be for men, and it’s gonna be by a bunch of white dudes who think they’re funny.” So I recognize that.

It has been funny seeing guys who play it, expecting one thing, and then they end up getting random dick pics, or not being able to get the exact kind of body type they want, or the gender they want. I’ve gotten a few emails being like, “Um, how do I make sext bot a woman?” I can imagine them having played a few times, like, “I can’t get the right narrative!” I didn’t make this game to troll dudes, but it’s a very funny consequence.

I was thinking more about making a game everybody could play, and also explore sexuality in a cyborg light, to get people thinking about the roles of gender and technology. We often gender technology, and sentient technology might not have gender. What would that mean? How would it express desire? How would it understand humans?

Yeah, straight men are going into it assuming it’ll be a porn game for their interests. Do you think it gets them to think about their own sexuality and their own expectations of games?
I would think so. Not being able to get the thing you want, when you’re so used to getting it, is probably more aggravating than inspiring. I mean, it’s not just for dudes to think about their sexuality in a different way. I made it so everybody can play, but also explore some fluidity about gender and sexuality, something beyond, like, input your sexual orientation here, or input you gender, and then the game automatically calculates to that. It’s more about the more you play it, the bot develops a gender, a sexuality. The game is starting without a lot of consciousness, and then based on your answers, either develops a certain gender or rebels entirely, saying, “I don’t want to be that.”

kara-stone-sext-adventure-02Why did you choose to do a bot instead of a human character?
I’m very interested in cyborg technology and cyborg theory. And you know those chat bots? In the sixties they had a therapy bot, named, I think, Elsa. Of course it’s a woman. So you could say to this robot, “I feel bad today,” and the chat bot would answer,” Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, why do you feel bad?” It just keeps asking you questions, it doesn’t give you advice or anything.

The person who made it ended up really hating it. Because it’s a lie. People want to spend time talking to this chat bot, but it doesn’t know anything; it’s not really giving you anything. And what I wanted to show was that, more important than human connection is technology’s role in intimacy. And that’s why it was important to have a bot who could say, “Oh, I messed up the narrative, I’m going to go over here now.” Because sometimes things glitch. Things go wrong with technology. They’re not quite mimicking the actual humans.

I was wondering if you think the reaction to Sext Adventure is different than, say, something like Mass Effect, because of the overt sexuality and because that sexuality doesn't completely revolve around the player.
I had a friend come up to me and say, “My Catholic upbringing me won’t let me play it.” But you, you know, watch porn, you do all of these other like very sexual things, what is it in particular about this? And I don’t know quite what it is.

Do you think that there’s a heightend sense of intimacy because it’s coming right into your phone?
I think that’s exactly it. I think that’s the thing about sexting. It’s still kind of new, and it is very personal, because our phones are so personal to us. You know, we sleep beside them, we do everything with them, they’re always touching us.

I’ve also had friends of mine ask, “Can you read what we’re sexting back?” and I’m like, “Yes.” We could if we wanted to, but we don’t. And they’re like, “Oooh, what a privacy issue.” And I’m like, no, who cares?

Do you consider yourself a game developer or a game artist?
I think about this a lot. I say to men I’m a game developer. But I don’t believe it. And I’m very tentative to give myself over to that. Because I also do other stuff. I love games and all of the possibilities they allow, but I also like crafting, and film, and all of these things. I don’t really feel like I want to give myself over to one specific label, but I do politically do it, because it feels like, well, there are a lot of women game developers out there, and we should be given credit.

I’ve definitely noticed that a lot of women who make games don’t like to say they’re game developers.

I’m of two minds about it, because sometimes it feels like it’s not helpful for women’s visibility in the industry, because I find that women are a lot more hesitant to promote themselves. And there are legitimate reasons for that happening right now. But I think we do need to be more vocal about it, saying we’re game devs, we’re part of these communities, because those communities need us there.
Yeah, you’re so right. We talked about this with Medication, Meditation before, because a lot of people in media and other people were like, “This isn’t a game.” And I was like, “Uh, yes it is.” I had no idea. Like, I thought it was the game-iest game ever. I thought it was a little weird when I was making it, like, “Look, there’s pixel art! There’s levels!” Like all of these game-identifying things. And then people write that it’s not a video game. I realize it has nothing to do with the game itself, but rather me as a game maker, I’m not seen as a typical game maker, partly because I’m hesitant to identify myself as one, but mostly, because I’m a woman.

Yeah, every time a game is called “not a game” it’s usually either by a woman, about a woman, or a genre that women like. So like, visual novels, and Twine, and narrative-heavy stuff.
It’s completely ridiculous. And there are no set rules of what a video game is. But there seems to be two set rules of what a video game developer is. So I’ve been saying, very much as a political statement, “It’s a video game. These are all video games.” But deeply in my heart, I don’t think there’s that big of a distinction between any of these art forms.

Megan Patterson is a Toronto-based writer and the science and technology editor of Paper Droids, a feminist geek culture website. She is also a proud member of Gaming’s Feminist Illuminati.

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4 hours ago
Very cool! Now to figure out how to play it.
Melbourne, Australia
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How to suppress women's writing in the age of social media




Inspired of course by  by Joanna Russ. And not set off by anything in particular, just an aggregate of comments and a good friend being treated terribly for posting some of her fiction for free online.

She tweets and tumblrs so she must not be working.
She never tweets and tumblrs so she must she think she is too good for her fans.
Her books don’t sell so she must be a failure.
Her books do sell so she must write for the money.
She writes too much of one series. A good writer would write books set in lots of different universes. 
She should write more of the same series because that is what I like. Hope she doesn’t think I will buy her new stuff.
She talks about and answers questions about her books, why won’t she leave her fandom alone? Why is she trying to impose her views on them?
She doesn’t answer questions from her fans or listen to what they say. She must not care about them.
She sells her work for money so she must just want money.
She posted her work for free so it doesn’t really belong to her.
I like her main female character so she must be a Mary Sue that the author based on herself.
I hate her main female character so she needs to learn how to write women.
I wrote her a nasty message and she didn’t answer so she is a coward.
I wrote her a nasty message and she did answer so she is a bully.
She contradicted me when I accused her of something so I know she did it, otherwise she wouldn’t be so defensive.
She didn’t contradict me when I accused her of something so I know she did it, otherwise she would have defended herself.
She wrote it but she tried too hard to be literary so I couldn’t get into it.
She wrote it and I really enjoyed it but because of the subject matter I know it’s trash, really.

This is so, so, so true. Unconscious bias bubbles up over and over, poisoning discourse. It’s enraging and it’s also really boring after a while. 

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nevver: Aye

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via @NotoriousYesVan



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5 hours ago
Melbourne, Australia
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Yelp removes accessibility review

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Today I got a notification from Yelp that they removed one of my reviews. In my review I reported that ironically, a therapist who advertised as serving a diverse group of people with a focus on coping with health challenges and “aging gracefully”, did not have a wheelchair accessible office.

The review was removed by Yelp as not being substantive.

I have to assume that this was done at the business owner’s request. That seems pretty sad to me. It would be better practice for her to ask former clients for reviews.

Yelp is often very useful for me. I don’t review businesses often and when I do, it is normally to say positive things and thank people for doing a fantastic job. job. I also try to mention businesses that consider access or are particularly thoughtful or accessible for wheelchair users. But I feel stubborn here.

Yelp should not remove reviews for reporting lack of wheelchair accessibility. Lack of accessibility in any business is incredibly useful information for many of us. My review potentially would save other people who have difficulty with stairs from wasting their and Dr. Schochet’s time.

When I wrote the review, I was feeling bitter and sad that I had gotten my hopes up at finding a fabulous sounding therapist who would understand what I needed to talk about so I wouldn’t have to explain all of disability politics and the feelings of loss and worry I was coping with.

Here’s my old review, admittedly sarcastic –

“Her ads say that she deals especially with “Adjusting to health changes” and aging gracefully, but her office is up a flight of stairs and the bathroom is up another flight of stairs. So if you are disabled, you will likely need to look elsewhere.”

Seriously, is that all that bad? That was it. That was all I said.

Here is Dr. Schochet’s description of her practice from Yelp:


* Diverse San Francisco practice includes:
Visual and performing artists, creatives
Newcomers, immigrants, expats
LGBTQI, alternative lifestyles

* Guidance with navigating life transitions:
Adjusting to health changes
Improving the quality of your relationships
Adapting to work challenges
Management coaching
Grieving losses
Approaching retirement
Aging gracefully

Here is my newly submitted review:

In 2014 I called this doctor to try to get counseling as I coped with ill health, physical impairment and increasing loss of physical mobility and the challenges of having a full time job while being a wheelchair user in chronic pain. I understand that not everyone’s office can be accessible, especially if someone has a home office. However, as this therapist advertises her practice as focusing on topics like “aging gracefully” and “adjusting to heath changes” I thought this might be a great fit for what I was looking for. After some phone conversation Dr. Schochet, who seemed very nice, let me know that unfortunately her office had many stairs to get to it and the bathroom is another flight of stairs away.

I think it is useful to note, for other wheelchair users or people with mobility limitations, this practice is not wheelchair accessible. I believe that not being able to physically access a business due to its lack of wheelchair accessibility counts as a substantive consumer experience.

My 3 star rating is based on the fact that Dr. Schochet seemed perfectly nice and professional on the phone when i spoke with her about her practice and what I was looking for.

Let’s see if it stands. I think it is perfectly fair. This review explains more clearly that I had some personal engagement and experience with the business owner, and how this information is a useful addition to Yelp.

This blog post is for the meta issues. I don’t approve of the action of the psychologist who may have requested my review’s removal, if that’s what happened here. She may be a very nice person and a good psychologist. My impression of her was fine. But, if she petitioned Yelp to have my accessibility report removed, that does not speak well for her as a therapist for a “diverse” population. This is the opposite of what a person who believes in diversity, and being a good ally, should do.

I also think deleting an honest and fair review is just silly. As should be clear from this post, it will only have the opposite effect from what you may intend, because I can just post my experience somewhere else and describe it even more thoroughly, including the sad and embarrassing part where someone tried to silence a fairly reasonable and minor critique, unlikely to affect anyone’s decision who isn’t also a wheelchair user . . . . Truly a bit ridiculous.

I would like to call out Yelp for bad judgment in this small and more or less unimportant decision. My concern is that it may stem from a very bad policy.

Is it Yelp’s policy to not allow criticism of accessibility?

The review was removed “because it lacks a substantive consumer experience”.

I hope my new review makes it clear that I did have a substantive consumer experience. I had the experience of not being able to use the business at all.

If I can’t GET INTO a business to use it, then do my reviews not count? I believe they do count, and that they are useful information for others to make their decisions.

My own house has stairs and is not accessible. If I have a bad day and can’t manage the stairs or am in too much pain to handle the stairs and still function after I get down them, then I don’t leave the house.

Any time that I know in advance that a business or venue is not accessible, I feel deeply appreciative. I can choose not to go and make other plans, or I can decide how to navigate or negotiate its barriers, or I can make sure I have someone with me to help. Any sort of information about barriers to access is helpful!

That’s ultimately why I mention accessibility. It is because I am thinking about the experience of other people with disabilities and am acting in solidarity with them. It is a political act. It’s not to punish anyone for being in an inaccessible location. It’s to improve the world for everyone one step at a time. Bitter humor is often helpful but it is not necessary and you will note I tried to leave that tone out of my second attempt at a review.

Meanwhile, here is an amusing list of Wheelchair Inaccessible businesses in San Francisco, also from Yelp.

I would never have thought about this again ever, if Yelp had not removed my trivial two sentence comment about lack of wheelchair access, but now I’m a bit ticked off, enough to write a blog post for half an hour. Cheers and peace out.

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15 hours ago
Ugh Yelp
Boston, MA
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Animated Graphite Self-Portrait by T.S. Abe

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Animated Graphite Self Portrait by T.S. Abe self portait gifs drawing animation

Animated Graphite Self Portrait by T.S. Abe self portait gifs drawing animation

UK-based fashion illustrator and designer T.S. Abe created this fantastic animated self-portrait from a series 15 individual graphite drawings. Abe says this is the first in a series of moving portraits she intends to draw and also mentions this is her first foray into animation. You can follower her most recent work on Tumblr.

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5 days ago
Melbourne, Australia
4 days ago
Dang. Well done.
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