How I Cope With My Disability …

As many of you know, I have a disability that puts me in a lot of pain most of the time. I either have to use a wheelchair or use sticks to get around and sometimes it takes up to an hour to get out of bed.

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Sleep at night can be hit and miss. When I move, it wakes me up as shooting pains course through me. I used to use blogging as an escape from the discomfort until I started having difficulty thinking of things to write because of the pain.

I turned to playing games on the XBOX One as it allowed me to disappear into another world, another realm, another place completely by chasing down monsters, battling robots, or travelling through space to new galaxies, wiping out whole colonies of bad guys. Or good guys, depending on the character. My gamertag bought amusement to people as it is Toe Blarone. A play on the chocolate, and keeping the one word I have had in my tag for years – Toe.

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I started watching a few broadcasts of people playing the same games I did and enjoyed what they were doing, and I would talk to them in their chat and ask them how they find “streaming”.
Streaming:

  1. (noun) Computing 
    A method of transmitting or receiving data (especially video and audio material) over a computer network as a steady, continuous flow, allowing playback to start while the rest of the data is still being received.

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One of the people I spoke to about it, said that they started it due to their disability. After I thought about it for a few days and visited more and more channels, I decided to give it a go myself. A proper go. I had already tried twice before. Once for a couple of weeks on and off on the streaming platform Twitch, and then once at a special event on 29th April 2017 on the newly merged with XBOX channel, Beam.

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I spoke to these people for a few weeks until I thought about it myself. Maybe if I gave it a proper go. On the recently rebranded MIXER – which had been Beam. When I started, I had 5 followers. They were all friends. People who also had an XBOX and played games, and on occasion, streamed. I mentioned in a couple of the other channels that I was going to give it a go, and … things didn’t’ go as planned.
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The stream would stop suddenly and turn off; the quality would drop to unwatchable; the sound would turn robotic; the video would just freeze. So I decided to give it up. I mentioned to one of the people I followed that it had turned into a cake full of laxatives and rotten eggs. They told me to contact the support desk and get it fixed. I did so. Over the next two weeks, I was getting support for each new issue that popped up, and it was being fixed almost straight away. Because I had streamed in that event in April, I was given one year of Mixer Pro for free, which meant I got priority support.
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By the end of September, my stream was working well, and I had built up 50 followers on there which was seriously impressive. To me. One of the people who helped me, well, I say help, more like inspired me to start, was a “partner” of Mixer. A partner is someone who stands for the company, they show the face of the business and promote it by being the best they can be and by being interactive. I decided that I was going to subscribe to this person as he had shown me a lot of support.
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By the end of October, my follower count had passed 100, and I was so moved by it. That 100 people wanted to watch when I was online. Of course, not all of them turned up. Most days, nobody did. I felt dejected and wanted to throw in the towel again, but was persuaded otherwise. Told that if I have a schedule, then that would help. So I set a schedule, and posted every time I went “live”.
When I had no one there, I still talked. I acted as though I had an audience there. I talked about what I was doing. I talked about anything. Even current events. Sometimes it felt so good just talking. It really took my mind off everything. I didn’t think of the pain which made it easier.
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I started feeling a lot happier as streaming made me smile. It didn’t make me think about going outside which I am very limited in doing. (Have you ever tried getting a wheelchair down 3 flights of stairs?) By the end of November, my follower count was at 200. I never thought I would ever reach that amount of people. Some even came back regularly to watch.
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Mid-December I decided I wanted a target by the end of the year. I wanted to go into 2018 with 300 followers. December 30th I was on 296. I resigned myself to being at that stage, as I didn’t plan on streaming on New Year’s Eve. I was convinced otherwise though. I was told I should see in the new year, live on stream. So I did. With 305 followers.
I had done it. I decided I wanted to be at 500 by the end of 2018. I figured that at the rate the followers were growing, I should about do it by November.
The Partner who I had subbed to, and he had later made me a moderator on his channel, decided to “Raid” me in January. When a streamer finishes his or her stream, they take all of their current viewers to another channel and host them. It gives them some more air time and introduces the viewers to someone they may not have seen before. This caused my follower count to rocket, and I was dumbstruck and starstruck. To have someone of that calibre raid me was something I never dreamed of happening.
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As a result of that, by the end of January, I was on 496 followers.
I was part of a raid that went into the channel of the highest profile streamer on Mixer. This guy was the first person to reach 100,000 followers and 1,000,000 views. This guy knew very few people in his channel as they would come and go. He knew his mods and a few of his subscribers.
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At one point he said “Toe Blarone? I’ve seen that name. I have heard about you on twitter. I have heard good things.” (I may have fangirled a bit there) This guy knew my name!
It is now 18th February 2018, and I have 588 followers on Mixer. My aim is to be a Partner. Maybe this year, maybe next. I think I can do it.
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Streaming helps me deal with my disability. It helps me deal with not being able to go out. It helps with my anxiety. It helps with talking to people. It helps me to not think of things. It helps tremendously. And I no longer hide my face. I have my camera on when I am “Live”.
I am currently saving to buy a computer that allows me to better my streaming capabilities as my laptop just can’t handle it. I already have some parts on order, but a have a few things left to get. I am hoping to be fully interactive by the end of June this year.
If streaming can do this for me, then there are activities that can do the same for you. Maybe streaming isn’t your thing, but there may be things you can do that will help. It is not the end of everything with a disability. Things can get better. Things will get better. But you have to work at it a bit to make it get better. You can’t have it fall into your lap.
I have made a lot of new friends. doing this.
If you want to put a face to the name, then head to my Mixer channel below.
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Harassment In Entertainment

As I can’t get out, one of the ways that I keep in touch with people is through video games and watching people streaming these games. Interacting with other gamers is great, as we have something in common and there is already a medium to talk about without having any of the ice to break with “oh what do you like”.

It is a great way of meeting new people and in some cases, making new friends. If you stick around long enough, people start trusting you and give you some responsibilities to help out on their channel. Their channel being the place they stream their videos game from whether it is Twitch, Mixer, YouTube or any other way of broadcasting live to anyone watching.

I have met several new people through this, and some I will constantly go back to and support them as I enjoy their content. There are both male and female gamers who stream, but in my eyes, gender doesn’t come into it. There is no difference as to whether a streamer is a 17-year-old boy or a 75-year-old woman. Interacting with them should never be any different. Both are treated with respect and politeness.

I know there are some people who don’t treat people in that way, and I have seen more and more, people who are disrespectful to the streamer. They swear at the streamer, make comments on their age, gaming ability, and speech.

And then there is the sexual harassment of female streamers. I saw it myself where a viewer said what he wanted to do to a female streamer. I have heard that some things have been said and seen the messages, but to witness it in the stream was horrifying.

Nobody, no matter what industry they are in, deserves to be treated like an object, cattle or verbal punching bag. It is unacceptable and should be dealt with in more ways than just to have their account suspended. These people should be dealt with by the police. If these things were said face to face, then the police would be involved immediately. I think streaming company should release the IP address to the local police and have them deal with it. After all, these things are exactly the same as face to face.

On the other side of the coin, I have heard – and I don’t know the truth in it, but the streamer was suspended – that some streamers are offensive as well. The fact that the main company was willing to immediately suspend the broadcasts means they may have had some sort of evidence.

Just because someone is in entertainment, does not give people the right be offensive to them, and it doesn’t give them the right to be offensive to viewers.

It is sickening when people are treated like dirt, like cattle, like sex objects, like pieces of meat. It needs to stop NOW.

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