Healthy wheelchair users at Disney show contempt for social ideals

Wan Lixin
Disney is now providing wheelchairs, at a cost, of course, to mobility-impaired visitors who want to explore the vast resort.
Wan Lixin

Fancy you are drawn by the glamor of sharing your Disney moments on WeChat, but find the epic size of the park intimidating. Many feel the long walks from one amusement to another are not their idea of fun, particularly while sweltering in the sun.

Well, you can sit in a wheelchair, hired at the resort's entrance for 90 yuan (US$14) a day, to be pushed by, say, your boyfriend. But such an arrangement could be easily worked out with any pusher on the understanding of sharing the use of the wheelchair by turns.

Such tips have been shared online by those who have tried this, and found it fun.

At first I found it tempting to denounce these young people -- hopelessly hedonistic weaklings unwilling to exercise a basic physical function -- as unworthy descendants from a people known for their culture of hard work, and a heightened sense of responsibility.

I conducted a survey among some acquaintances.

A gentleman in his 90s was indignant. "There is simply no justifying this – this is clearly informed by a warped mindset of extracting fun at the expense of the handicapped. Imagine someone wondering aloud: It was not bad at all for a handicapped person to be pushed around in a wheelchair."

One male colleague was more permissive. "Personally, if their behaviors do not go against relevant regulations, it would be simply an issue of personal whim. But it would be a management issue if Disney Resort is thus rendered incapable of providing wheelchairs for those truly in need."

One female colleague commented curtly, "It is fadia, period." Reputedly a very Asian concept, fadia refers to a woman who deliberately acts in a spoiled manner to show off how coquettishly charming and cutesy she is in the eyes of her partner. The colleague added cynically: "There are all kinds of handicaps."

I basically agree with the latter assessment, believing whatever satisfaction the feigning invalid might have, this cannot but be informed by a callousness, a lack of empathy for those with disabilities, or a disdain for social norms.

My wife also dismissed this as an "exhibition of conjugal love," with the famous punchline that a public display of such intimacies can be self-defeating.

But otherwise she deemed this as morally neutral, saying that a really handicapped person would likely visit this venue with their own wheelchair, and those provided by Disney are intended explicitly for those who feel the need for aided mobility within the compound. Some used the wheelchairs to help convey their luggage.

In spite of this, there is no denying that some young people are evincing a lack of ambition, spurning effort, and giving up the struggle.

There are those who, fed up with overwork without hope of real advancement, choose to opt out, or lie flat, a malaise more or less emblematic of a fast-paced society in general and of the technology sector in particular.

In addressing this there is the challenge of how to incentivize young people to be socially engaged, to exert themselves, to bear hardship, and to take responsibility.

In this aspect, the recent government initiatives to achieve greater equality in income distribution and to reinvigorate upward social mobility no doubt send an encouraging message.

Special Reports