Devotees and wannabes are the dirty underbelly of the amputee culture. These individuals, in their quest to befriend or to interact with an amputee, used to stalk prosthetic facilities and amputee conferences. The advent of the internet and social networking has brought the devotee community out of the shadows and into the face and lives of the amputee.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the term, a devotee is an individual who is attracted to an amputation. The attraction can range from admiration of the amputee to the sexualization of the limb loss. Although devotees are typically men seeking amputee women, I have heard of female devotees looking for men.
A wannabe is an individual who yearns to live the life of an amputee. Simply put, they feel that they have been born with one limb too many and covet our use of prosthetics and/ or crutches. Wannabes sometimes feign injuries in order to utilize crutches and, in extreme cases, will self-mutilate the offensive limb in a quest to become an amputee.
Facebook and Internet forums have become a cyber mine field for amputees to navigate. As soon as I identified myself as an amputee, I started receiving friend requests and lewd messages from questionable characters. After much experience, I am now able to sniff out a devotee like a blood hound going after a rabbit.
Upon receiving a friend request, I immediately investigate the individual. If he has only female friends, I deny him automatically. I always thoroughly investigate the groups and interests that the solicitor 'likes.' Devotees seldom stalk in isolation- they tend to join tell-tale groups such as "amputee devotee" and "I want to have sex with an amputee woman." Not too smart on their part, but I'm not complaining because it makes my detective work easier!
I rarely accept a friend request from an individual without a profile picture, from someone who has just joined Facebook, or a person who is friends with somebody I know to be a devotee or wannabe. When I am in doubt, I will send the individual an email asking them their intentions. You'd be amazed how many will profess to being a devotee or a wannabe in their response. When this happens, I deny the request and block the individual because it is my experience that if I don't block them, that they will continue to write to me.)
I find it sad that amputees have to deal with the cyber stalking of devotees. It has become such an issue that amputees have begun to communicate among themselves about whom they believe might be a "faker." Last week the authenticity of an amputee friend of mine was questioned. I never envisioned that I would write the sentence, "Rest assured, I have met her and she has only one leg!"