A Story from the Great Beyond: The Disabled Ghosts of Earth
Hello, reader. I ask you, can you see me? Do you know of me? I can't see you. I know of you, though. I live among you, flicker in and out of your existence like a fluorescent light on the Fritz. I'm at the edge of your awareness, yanked into being from time to time by an errant thought, a sentence on a page, a sound byte. Some of you even catch a true glimpse of us. The community beyond the bubble, the segregated, the ones you had forgotten about and soon will again. Do you know who I am, yet?
I'm a fully blind individual who has worked several jobs. Let's run down the list:
I was a telemarketer
One of those annoying ones that try to sell you stuff. I came down your phone line trying to sell you energy contracts, or phone plans. Or well... I did that for a few days. After that, I was relegated to a simpler script, that just had me asking if a particular piece of mail had come in that day. Why? Because the software to run through the call scripts was not built with accessibility in mind. Initially, I couldn't even do the simple script. it required custom-written screen reader scripts in order to make the software on my work computer behave. people had forgotten to keep me in mind when writing the software. My reminder came too late; the software was already finished and could no longer be altered. This simple script was all I could get it to do reliably. And I'm sure I've since been forgotten about again. Several ghosts may have come and gone since I left, all running into the same barrier. Is it any wonder they feel like they need psychics to speak to us? Nobody tends to hear us otherwise...
I'm a Programmer
These days, more as a hobby than a profession, but I still consider myself a programmer by trade. I worked several jobs in this field. I worked on various backends, various websites. I worked for companies who all figured I could make them money, as long as I didn't cost them any. I was in a state of Quantum Remembrance: People gave me enough to be able to work for them, but not enough to make their tools workable by those like me. This wasn't our demographic, not our target audience. I could work on that if I had time to spare, or in my spare time. Or not at all. Time to spare as a blind programmer doesn't exist. Things, particularly when working for a company with heaps of different projects, take a bit longer to onboard. More than anything else though, I was busy reminding folks I exist. Tools my colleagues used were not accessible. Tools I used myself became inaccessible.
“We have a new UI, isn't it great?” 'No... it's not. You forgot I exist again...”
A blind programmer working both as a freelancer as well as a corporate wage slave plays a perpetual game of Russian roulette. It's like a plumber working with explosive tools; time bombs with an unknown amount of time on the timer. Wake up one day, your tools have all blown up and there's no way to get them back. Scrounge around for new tools, all while trying to meet your quota, make your appointments. Just like politicians lording over the slums they will never visit, developers writing websites, web apps, dev tools, productivity software toss their creations over the fence thinking they're doing the best they can for everyone. They do... they just forgot I exist... Until I, or someone like me, reminds them. A flicker of an ethereal presence, a ghostly whisper, easily ignored, easily squashed by reasonings of science, of business.
“You must be mistaken... ghosts wouldn't use our products... would they?”
I'm a Shaman
A shaman, in some versions of the title, acts like a bridge between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. I currently work as an accessibility manager for a QA firm. I guess I am a shamanager. I teach the rituals needed to commune with the ghosts within the outskirts of our reality, but even more so, I act as a reminder of those outskirts. I, after all, am myself one of these ghosts.
Quick check... do you still remember me?
I get to build bridges, I get to bring the outskirts into the spotlight as it were. I work with a willing group of people who want to see through the barrier. And yet, I need to make sure I'm not forgotten, or all my teachings will similarly be forgotten when they are needed most. Not on purpose, of course, just... slipped the mind. Nobody means to, of course...
Can you still hear me, dear reader?
Outside of work, one is free. That is the idea, right? Work-life balance. Work stops when you clock out for the day. The work of a ghost never ends, though. For a ghost, life is work. You go to your job, where you work, then you go home, where you work. You work, for to leisure in a world where a system is not built for ghosts is to disappear into obscurity. Until you owe money. People seem to suddenly remember you exist when you owe money. It's interesting how that works. When you owe money, reality tips over, because you suddenly end up in a reality where every ghost is thought to have their own shaman to bridge the gaps. A ghost can't always hold a pen, or use one, or read a form. The powers that be who sent the form will ask such unfortunate ghosts to employ their shaman to help them, expecting the poor, unsuspecting ectoplasmic entity to divulge all their personal ghastly secrets to this individual. Let me divulge one of those mystical workings though: a lot of ghosts haunt alone. No shaman in sight. You forgot we existed again, didn't you?
How did we get here? That, my dear reader, is a story spanning many ages, many decisions and many mistakes. But we did get here. Most mainstream media is not ghost-proof. Most video games, memes, websites, physical spaces, get-togethers, communities and events exclude one type of ghost or another, often knowingly so. A lot of communication methods are not inclusive to a lot of different types of ghosts. Different communities the world is rather not reminded of too often; pray tell it might ruin the Elysium we are meant to believe we've built in our post-enlightened state. Slowly, agonizingly, agonizingly slowly, it appears we as a collective species are starting to develop some ESP. Extrasensory preception. The ability to look outside one's bubble to see what's happening outside the sand dune our collective heads have been stuffed down for most our existences. Is it enough? Will the 2020s, the 2030s, the 2040s be the decade where we decide to let our ghosts be humans again? Where the segregated communities can have their culture without being entirely excluded from the overall collective consciousness the many enjoy? Where ghosts play, watch, discuss and consume the same content, at the same time the non-ghosts do? Or will we remain as we are? Formless spectres, at times drawn into clarity by an errant thought, or word, or sound byte? For the moment, I thrive in my little ghostly existence. I browbeat when I need to browbeat, and I work around the obstacles unknowing, unsuspecting ghostists place on my path. I'd certainly not mind a bit more than a ghost of a chance though. Nice as luck can be, it does tend to run out at times.
What say you, dear reader? Do you still remember me? Will you, 10 minutes from now? ..w abo.. ...orrow? Wh.................???