If you can’t say anything nice… (separate from #NHBPM)

A couple days ago for National Health Blog Post Month, I talked about dealing with negative feedback in our community. Ironically, later that day my friend Amanda was met with this anonymous remark the following this blog post she had written Are You Ready? {NHBPM} :

“ok, I can’t take it anymore and need to call bullshit on this writer. Apparently it’s health blog month or something and these posts are all over the place. Here is my problem: First, this writer includes enough adjectives in her writing to flood a desert! It comes across as so dramatic it’s nauseating! The second problem is that these are posted in Crohns and colitis support groups and the writer has stated she doesn’t have either. If you don’t have IBD you don’t get it. Plain and simple. And you never will. Sorry you are a drama queen with nausea and you choose to lay on your bathroom floor all the time, but you claim to write so that people can relate and not feel alone yet I have never heard someone who actually HAS Crohns or colitis complain as much as you do. Would you go on a cancer support site and complain just because you “present with symptoms that look alot like…” cancer??. I would hope not. Because those people don’t want to hear you complain about something you know nothing about AND DON’T EVEN HAVE! So you can wear all the purple you want, and write all the adjectives you need to add to your drama, but just know that not everyonee can relate. Or would even want to.”

As I am sure you can imagine, she was extremely taken aback and sent me and two of our friends an email with this message in it saying “is this how you guys feel too?” I am going to be blatantly honest right now. The answer to that question is not yes or no. Whoever this person is does have some validity to what he/she is saying. If I did not know Amanda, I could understand why someone would think that. I am sure this person has severe IBD and doesn’t appreciate feeling like Amanda is comparing herself to this person. However, the point I am trying to make with this post is that I DO know Amanda and I have had one of the most severe cases of IBD imaginable so with that knowledge, the answer to my friend’s question is “of course not! That hasn’t crossed my mind.”

Amanda hasn’t once compared herself or her situation to that of mine or anyone else’s. She is extremely clear about her situation and only talks about how she is feeling. My friend is also so caring, compassionate, and empathetic. She just “gets it” even though we haven’t lived through the same thing. Amanda has even gone so far as to ask me if I would be offended if she ordered a “My____ Has Colitis” tee shirt from thegreatbowelmovement.org. This girl has not asked me once, twice, or even three times but more…. Is this someone who is just an insensitive drama queen who thinks she has IBD and just wants to complain? Or is this an incredibly intelligent and insightful girl who has been experiencing many of the same emotions as those of us with inflammatory bowel disease often do and chooses to write about it and spread awareness? She chooses to share her thoughts, deepest fears and emotions as a catharsis for herself but also to show whoever may come across her incredibly eloquent writing that they are not alone.

Without knowing the author of any type of work, you can’t possibly make the types of comments that were made to one of the most amazing, kindhearted, well intentioned person I know. It is impossible to jump to any conclusions about a person just by reading one or two posts off of someone’s blog. The fact of the matter is that unless you know someone personally, you aren’t going to go through each and every one of their posts day after day and get to know and understand them. You aren’t going to do that unless you know them, unless you care about them, unless you identify with them, unless there is a reason. So when someone has the nerve to write a very hurtful, bold statement like the one made to my friend, I feel the need to write a little something in response. This isn’t really about anything other than how we all need to be more sensitive to cyber bullying. We all need to show more compassion when we are reading other people’s work.

Since social media became a constant presence in our lives, we have all seemed to forget some of the basic rules we were all taught growing up. Remember the old school motto “if you don’t  have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Let’s bring that one back!

  • HH

    I have to agree AND disagree. I actually agree with the person that left the comment. If you don’t have IBD you don’t get it. And just because you have some of the symptoms doesn’t mean that you know what people with IBD go through. It is actually a GREAT point that was made about visiting cancer support sites. If you don’t have it, or have never had it, you should not be trolling around there. I get that it is your friend, and so you see where she is coming from, but others with IBD and those that aren’t friends with her very might well view it as another person complaining of a stomach ache and nausea and wanting people with IBD to feel bad for her. I have seen her posts and they are quite dramatic. Is she trying to prove something? That if she writes dramatically enough that people will believe that she has IBD? Maybe it makes her believe that she has it. But just because she is your friend doesn’t mean that others with IBD want to hear from someone that doesn’t have it. In my opinion it comes across as whining. And drama. And someone who has made friends with people who have IBD and wants to fit in. But just because you hang out with a rockstar doesn’t make you one. Luckily we are all entitled to our opinion.

  • Jodi

    I read that post and it really pissed me off. I don’t know Amanda, but I do know that she, like you, is a warrior who has helped many people, including one I love, who now, in turn, is doing the same for others.
    some people, obviously, have no empathy, compassion or intelligence. She’s an idiot!

  • HH

    Funny how you only post the comments that agree with your opinion. A good blogger would allow all the comments to post and perhaps a discussion could take place.

    • http://risaroo86.wordpress.com rissy26

      I emailed you a few hours ago from rissy0986@aol.com. Please check it if you don’t mind.

    • http://risaroo86.wordpress.com rissy26

      ahhh… I’ve been thinking about it more and you are absolutely right. You are clearly very grounded, intelligent and sensitive. And I re-read your comment which was very sane and mature.

  • http://www.forwardisapace.com Lauren @ Forward is a Pace

    I’m sorry Amanda was upset by the comment. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory when you open yourself up online — people will offer their opinions, both negative and positive. A good friend who is a columnist once told me that I should be grateful for strong comments, especially negative ones. It means that what you wrote touched something in that person and made them want to respond.

    I will say that I don’t think one negative comment is cyber bullying. It might be mean or harsh or unnecessary, but it takes repetition to be a “bully.” And I disagree with the adage of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I find I have grown the most from criticism. I will say I think Amanda’s commenter could have been less harsh. But maybe they were up all night with their IBD and feeling like crap, or just had something awful happen in their lives or any other host of issues. I know I’ve snapped at people unnecessarily when I’m having a bad day. Hopefully Amanda will learn something from it (and maybe you, too), and she’ll grow even stronger than she already is. :)

    • http://risaroo86.wordpress.com rissy26

      I have been learning a tremendous amount from this, Lauren ; ). I agree with everything you said. We have no idea what state that person was in. And that person has no idea who Amanda is:). But regardless, I know I am growing from this since I am still trying to learn the ropes:).
      xoxoxo Marisa

    • http://risaroo86.wordpress.com rissy26

      Oh sorry meant to add… I am not someone who responds well to criticism so I think I was thinking about that when I was deciding whether to post HH’s comment. Everyone’s different obviously : )

  • HH

    I am with Lauren. Opinions are just that. You can take them or leave them, but each one should be seen and heard. Only then can a discussion take place and people can learn from them. Maybe the person who left the comment didn’t have anything going on in their life. Maybe they have just seen one too many times where someone with IBS, or a stomach ache, or someone who was in the hospital once, wants to compare themself to someone with a lifetime of IBD and gain an audience who will listen. The problem is that through dramatic words and constant (what might seem like to some) complaining, it is hard to gain respect from a group of people that you can’t POSSIBLY relate to. You can be friends with them, and you can complain to your friends, but I personally would not be posting those complaints on a crohn’s and colitis support page if you don’t have the disease. But that’s me.
    Thank you for posting my comment. I do enjoy your blog.

    • Lauren @ Forward is a Pace

      I find that I learn so much from disagreement too!

      • http://risaroo86.wordpress.com rissy26

        If it is done in a kindhearted way, I do also!

    • http://risaroo86.wordpress.com rissy26

      Thank you HH…And I do agree with much of what you said : )