Click on the image above to go to “Diary of a Goldfish” blog to see what this is all about and to see what everyone else has written…
This may not seem like the most important issue, it may even seem that i am being a bit picky, but recently i have been hearing the phrase “Anyone can do it!” exclaimed with such enthusiasm and gusto a few too many times… and always about things i cannot do… at all.
Sometimes it is fairly understandable and about things that most people can do, bit sometimes it borders on the ridiculous:
The other week i was watching “Countryfile” on the BBC and the presenter was climbing up a wall of rock in a disused mine, using clips and ropes. The original miners would have just risked falling off as they did not use such safety gear and, on discussing this, the presenter exclaims something along the lines of ” Now with this safety gear, ANYONE can do this!”
Now i am no killjoy and i am so happy to see people exhilarated and enthusiastic about things, and i would let it go if i had not been hearing it over and over again…
Even an “almost anyone”, while not correct, would at least acknowledge that there are some people who cannot.
When you think about all the people who are too ill, too disabled, generally unfit, elderly, scared of heights or of a nervous disposition, or too young to safely scale a rock face, etc etc with any amount of equipment; it makes you think that probably less than a quarter of the population could actually do it! However many, the number of people who are fit physically and mentally to undertake such an activity are definitely in the minority.
Later in the same program, people were sloshing around in rivers, kind of body surfing through white water, jumping down waterfalls and the like. It was Cumbria in winter, so they all had wetsuits on but it was evidently freezing even with all the gear (there were icicles), not to mention very physical. To give him his due, the presenter on this part said “anyone of average ability can do this”… which was an improvement, but i think actually when you average out all the people in the country it is still an above average kind of activity isn’t it?
Then the other day i went into the living room and my partner had switched on the London Marathon. I thought, “ok, how long til i hear it” and started to check my email, not really listening. I swear within four minutes i heard those magic words “If i can do this, REALLY, anyone can!”. Again, i don’t want to diminish the guy’s acheivement (and as i say i was not really listening, so i don’t know his personal story) he seemed to be inferring he had been through some illness and happily come out the other side. We all make generalisations, and he was high on adrenaline, happy to be alive and chuffed with himself, with good reason, but my point still stands.
We cannot all run a marathon. We cannot all climb mountains, scale rock faces, overcome our illnesses and limitations.
To say that “anyone” can do these things renders us invisible and as not qualifying as “anyone”; as people that count.
I love watching programs about the outdoors, nature, countryside and wildlife. It is hard enough not being able to access these landscapes in reality very often or in the same ways that i used to, without being told that anyone who is anyone, can.
I was talking to someone about this and she said that it is like saying “people think that Muslims are…” or “people find homosexuality…” as if they do not count as valid “people” with positive opinions about themselves! In talking about “people” or “anyone” in a way that is obviously excluding a (rather large) subgroup of the population, we are thoughtlessly dismissed and dropped into another (lower) category of personhood.