In this essay I use identity-first language (‘disabled women’) instead of person-first language (‘women with disabilities’). Beyond the political and collective reasons for this choice (#SayTheWord), I don’t like the preposition ‘with’. Prepositions are for relationships; I am not in a relationship with disability.
I asked them to invent things for us, the cyborgs who are already here, already alive.
Most cyborgs are disabled people who interface with technology. We depend on a computer for some major bodily function. The tryborg – a word I invented – is a nondisabled person who has no fundamental interface. The tryborg is a counterfeit cyborg. The tryborg tries to integrate with technology through the latest product or innovation. Tryborgs were the first to wear Google Glass. Today they wait in line for Snapchat Spectacles. The tryborg adopts the pose of a cyborg. But no matter how hard they try, the tryborg remains a pretender.
The tryborg may be an early adopter, a pro gamer, a TED Talker, a content creator or a follower. The tryborg may be an expert who writes about cyborgs for screenplays, lab reports or academic journals. The tryborg may just be a guy named Bob who works in I.T. and collects Real Dolls. Whatever the case: Tryborgs can only imagine what life is like for us.
The tryborg is always distanced by metaphor, guesswork and desire. When my leg suddenly beeps and buzzes and goes into “dead mode” – the knee stiffens; I walk like a penguin – the tryborg is alive without batteries. When I sound like a bomb in a liquor store, the tryborg hurries on, nonelectronic.