A Facebook user called out Filipinos who were flooding the comments thread on the Facebook page of a man from Thailand who has special needs.
Facebook user Aaron Amurao shared screenshots of offensive posts of some Filipinos against Nicky Wedemeyer who regularly shares selfies of himself with a Starbucks drink.
If someone didn't meet social media's expectations, everyone judges you. Hindi ko alam kung anong mali sa picture na…
Some users who identified as Filipino were mocking Wedemeyer for sharing such photos on his account, which later on turned private.
Amurao said the page’s owner could possibly be a person with disability and denounced those who poked fun at him for it.
“Hindi n’yo ba naisip na baka itong bata na ito ay special child or may diperensya sa pagiisip? Based on my observation sa FB nya, the way he posed is parang may something sa kanya. I have cousins na PWD that’s why I know kung anong mga galawan nila. Ang mga ganitong klaseng tao ay dapat nirerespeto at minamahal,” he said on July 16.
On the same day, another user Kinstuart Montales Ababa posted a similar criticism against people who were sharing and using Wedemeyer’s photos to make fun of him.
Hi everyone I am posting this photo as an awareness towards children with special needs. I could see that this kid has…
“I could see that this kid has been judged by many people for posting selfies with Starbucks and his face and account has been spread all over Facebook. Some people share his photos as a form of insult. Most of them find it weird and creepy,” Ababa said.
Ababa confirmed that Wedemeyer is a man developmentally disabled, but he has empowered himself to work as a barista for an organization helping children who are also struggling with mental health issues.
He shared a screenshot of his profile that stated the foreigner is an employee of Steps with Theera, a social enterprise cafe in Thailand for the persons with disabilities.
Wedemeyer’s selfies were part of his coping mechanism, Ababa pointed out, and such is normal for people with special needs.
“To inform you, there are children with special needs who have the tendency to like a specific object or thing and these are their simple ways to cope up with their environment. They are not weird or creepy but rather these are their common characteristics,” the user said.
Amurao likewise said that Filipinos on Facebook should be more discerning and responsible with their judgments on people online from now on.
“Grow up guys! Lawakan nyo ung pag iisip nyo, isipin nyo ung magulang nito, sobrang sakit sa isang magulang na binubully ung anak nila, think before u click guys! 2019 na!” he said.
Cyberbullying on PWDs
Bullying among children in general has adverse consequences to the victims when they reach adulthood.
These effects could be worse for those with cognitive disabilities.
An article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states:
“Some children with disabilities have low self-esteem or feel depressed, lonely or anxious because of their disability, and bullying may make this even worse. Bullying can cause serious, lasting problems not only for children who are bullied but also for children who bully and those who witness bullying.”
In the Philippines, cyberbullying can possibly be punishable under several laws. The Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 is applicable to school-related bullying, while the Revised Penal Code and the Cybercrime Prevention Act may apply to those who publicly and maliciously assign to another person “a crime, vice, defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt” of a person.