How People With Disability Reclaim Online Spaces

By Alex Linker

Over the last few years, there’s been a trend towards the use of hashtags prefaced with the word “actually” in online disability spaces and discussions, particularly on Twitter and Tumblr.

This trend originated with #actuallyautistic, as a way for autistic people to connect with each other without being inundated with posts from the family and friends of autistic people.

Since then, it has spread to communities such as #actuallyOCD and #actuallyADHD to separate these communities’ posts from those of people who tweet about being “sooo #ocd” because they like to be organised, or “sooo #adhd” because they got distracted once.

It’s important that people recognise that disabilities like ADHD and OCD are serious. They’re not to be joked about or used as a descriptor of simple personality traits or behaviours.

The hashtag #actuallyXYZ allows for communities to be built and people to connect with others going through the same things whilst avoiding medicalisation, cure talk and other discourse. It allows us to talk about our experiences in a safe(r) online space.

Here are some examples of the difference between general Tweets and those posted by members of communities using #actually: