Friday, March 26, 2010

Just The Way It Is

Updated below.

As I was making my regular Facebook rounds, I saw something that first surprised me, then just made me feel awful.

I stewed about it.

Ultimately, I decided not to post a response there.  I don't know the people involved very well (and in most cases, I don't know them at all) and I have seen no good come from flame wars.  Plus, it's likely that anything I could have written there would fall on deaf ears. Or worse -- that someone would have engaged me in a hateful and hurtful "debate" that would have left me feeling even angrier.  And sadder.

But I can share it with you here, and you can feel what I felt and maybe you can come up with the perfect response. If there even is one.

(For context, the Original Poster (OP) is a man I went through grade school with and, quite obviously, a doctor.)


(cut for screenshot, no comments were deleted or altered)



A bad thing happened that could have happened to anyone, but a fat person is easy to point fingers at and ridicule.  Fat blah blah blah lazy blah blah blah tax dollars blah blah blah Oprah blah blah blah fat.

Sometimes I just feel it's a losing battle. Yes, it's sad. But it's nothing new.

Would you have responded? What would you have said?


::UPDATE::
The thing that shocked me so much was that the people I DO know from this conversation aren't assholes. They aren't hateful, and they certainly aren't without their personal issues (because who is?). I can't understand where the vitriol comes from. I do understand their feeling like "people need to get their shit together" but that's not really what comes across here.

31 comments:

  1. I could have been that 350lb woman.
    I don't ride around Disney on a rascal, nor do I sit around and watch Oprah all day. And as my OBGYN said, I am the healthiest fat person he ever treated. I try, try and try to lose weight. Each time I fall off that horse, I get right back on. In fact I am hopping back on again tomorrow.

    No, I wouldn't have commented because it would have been more fuel to the fire and they don't really deserve a debate. Plus, I would have been ganged up on with zero support. You can't win that kind of battle without some folks on your side.

    Let's find his weakness and exploit it for all his Facebook friends to ridicule.

    PS - Any adult of average weight could have fallen on a preschooler hard enough and broken their leg. Just sayin'. It's not just because she was obese.

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  2. ummm...
    fuck 'em?

    because i bet nothing you can say will change these people's minds.
    it's bullshit, what they're saying. it's sad. it's ignorant. it's full of vitriol and hatred. it sucks. but this has so much less to do with the people they *think* they are talking about, than it has to do with *WHO THEY ARE*. (and i wish i had more than skimpy ass *stars* fer that. i wish i had ITALICS)

    it's *their* hearts that shrivel. *their* souls that are cracked open and oozing venom and foul.

    if i were you?

    - i'd send 'em all an angel to help them heal whatever is broken within 'em, an eyeroll to the sky in thanks you got a full soul and a heart of more than shards and a smile to the mirror cuz yer beautiful, and then?
    fuck 'em, sister.

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  3. Honestly, there's no way to respond. That's a simple case of the shepherd and the sheep. It's easy to pick on others, no matter the reason.

    It's best, in my opinion, to let those who choose to be nasty be nasty with each other online. Once it's verbally in my face (which it never will be because people are much more brave online, even with real name attached) then I will say something. But I guarantee you, ask those same people about their opinions in the real world and they will deny them.

    There's no use arguing with hypocrites.

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  4. It's odd how little they actually cared about the 4 year old.....

    There's no way you can respond to that. They just wouldn't get it.

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  5. I agree with everyone else, but I would have been sorely tempted to question these people's humanity, while peppering my comment with swear words.

    Good for you, not responding.

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  6. No need to respond. What could you possibly have to say to someone who thinks a child having its femur broken is funny? Not worth your time or energy. There are lots of nasty, insecure people in the world. You aren't God. You can't cure them. So let them live in their nasty, vile little worlds and do your best to avoid having contact with them. You have a great life. Don't give them the power to affect how you feel.

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  7. Um yeah, one time my little brother broke his femur (when he was 3) by straightening his legs out at the precise moment my mom was setting him down on the floor. It could literally happen to anybody.

    It's great that you had the will-power not to say anything. Internet 'conversations' go nowhere and leave a person feeling frustrated and gross. Just brush it off. Delete them from your friends list if you feel the need to do something.

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  8. It is just obvious that none of the people involved with the facebook string struggled with their weight and/or know someone who has struggled with obesity. Whenever I read such obvious ignorance and lack of compassion I secretly hex those people.

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  9. I would tend to agree about the not responding part except...

    If someone were making blatant racist or anti-homosexual remarks - as hurtful and ugly as these remarks were, would you have spoken up?

    Most people won't - even if they're uncomfortable - because no one wants to cause a scene.

    But by remaining silent, we are giving permission to these people to continue to spew hate in whatever form it takes.

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  10. I think I would have commented because I do NOT know when to keep my mouth shut. (Or fingers from typing?!)

    I don't know...maybe I wouldn't have. I'm really very sad to read this. I am overweight and have to scratch my head and wonder, "Wow, people really think this about heavy people?" I guess I've been living in a very nice, protective box because I've never heard such vile stuff about overweight people. that makes me very sad, and worries me. It's a form of discrimination people seem to be okay with. So when I think of it as discrimination, I feel like I would respond.

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  11. I'm always shocked by how MEAN people are - how uncompassionate, uncaring, un-understanding. It's really just shocking, & I'm surprised every time. I don't know what I would have said. But this just makes me infinitely sad. How did people get to be so collectively nasty?

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  12. One possible response is to privately message the original poster to *gently* let them know how their remark and the following responses can be interpreted poorly (and let them know that you assume their intentions were good) - most people who post such things do it so casually they simply don't consider what it makes them sound like.

    That gives him an opportunity to quietly delete the post, or post a clarification - and if they don't (or if they get hostile with you), it gives you the opportunity to remove them as a friend. That way, you haven't tacitly encouraged their bigotry but you also haven't stirred up a counterproductive shitstorm.

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  13. i tend to say something, even though one of my (very personal) mottos is "you can't argue with crazy."

    even if i had just said something as simple as, "this thread is a violation of someone's privacy, and ultimately quite rude."

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  14. I would have had a hard time holding my tounge, and that is why I end up in useless arguments over facebook with people I don't know or care to know. I got unfriended by a guy I knew from highschool over a disagreement about public breastfeeding-which according to him was so disgusting it was equivalent to going to the bathroom in public. Whatever. People are mean. Fat is easy to pick on. It is the one prejudice that people feel is "acceptable" in our society. I don't know how we change that. Our whole society is a mess when it comes to weight issues. That is why we have so many girls/women with eating disorders. I wish the whole thing would go away, but it seems like you are right, it is just the way it is.

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  15. When I was 2 & 1/2 I broke my leg simply by falling off my bed. If it had been a 6'4", 200 lb man who fell on the kid they wouldn't have been saying such hateful things about fat people.

    I would have pointed both those things out, and possibly privately messaged the OP in addition to ask how he felt he could give his patients quality care when he so blatantly has such a huge prejudice against overweight people.

    I understand you're saying these aren't hateful people, but ... someone had to teach people in the 60's not to call their secretary "Sweetie" and not to drop the N-bomb or whatever. People need to be taught this too.

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  16. Good for you for not commenting. I have the habit of responding to hateful posts on fb and then I end up getting veiled threats in my fb email and get ganged up on because my opinion isn't popular.

    Also, It's amazing what people will say when they think no-one in the group that's being made fun of is listening. I'm always surprised at the normal adults I know that say horrible things when they think everyone is "like them."

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  17. i doubt i'd have commented, just as i doubt i'd comment on any sort of outrageous statement on FB...

    but i would defriend, or at the very least, hide them. i don't need this kind of crazy in my life.

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  18. That's so awful, and their language is so hateful. I wouldn't have done anything either, because when people are that far gone I don't think there's any changing them.

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  19. Why is being fat the only bias that is socially acceptable in our society. I even hear fat men commenting on some "derogatory fat name" female, and the other fat men laughing. It wouldn't be so funny if the comments were being directed at their own wives or daughters in front of them. But my fault also for not being more vocal about how offensive it is. I agree you should send a gentle message to OP and suggest deleting the comments. A doctor shouldn't allow the perpetuation of any kind of discrimination, even on a personal Facebook page.

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  20. I think that saying something in-thread might have just escalated things, but I think I'd have responded with something like 'Wow. I'd hate to see what you all say about me when I'm not around.' I'm probably too chickenshit to say that, but I'd *try* to find some way to 'come out' and remind them that I'm fat, too. Relying on misassumptions to benefit from thin privilege is tempting, but tiresome.

    Calling him out on how badly he must treat his fat patients probably wouldn't work so well, though a part of me could go the route of mockery. "Gee, I can't imagine why heavy people avoid seeking medical treatment! Shame is super-helpful! Oh, wait ..."

    But I don't know how much difference it'd make. People engage in bullshit like this because it's a twisted form of stress release - berating other people is easy and gives the berater a heady, if transient, sense of superiority. Reminding them that people can HEAR them can help quiet things down, but I don't know if it ever changes the actual impulse to be cruel. Injecting people with empathy seems to be something best done in real relationships, and not over the often tenuous connections of facebook.

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  21. I think Tamster hit the nail on the head--excellent way to handle it.

    And it is discrimination. I would bet that every commenter has a relative and/or friend that is overweight. If confronted with that person's name in reference to the comment they made I bet they'd back down in a hurry. Fat people as a group = unacceptable; fat mom, sister, friend = acceptable.

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  22. Word, Anon 7:55. And what do you bet that the doctor and other commenters brag about how "liberal" they are? Such hypocrisy makes me want to scream.

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  23. It's so very easy to make "fat people" the enemy.

    After all, it's their own fault they're fat, isn't it?

    If they just practiced a little will power and self control they wouldn't be so fat, would they?

    And it's always better to be one of us than to be one of them, right?

    I find, as I grow older, that I have less and less in common with people who find this sort of thing amusing - be it jokes about fat, race, sexuality - that sort of "humor" belongs in a locker room among adolescents, not professional adults. Sheesh.

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  24. Ok...I heard Sean Penn** was looking for some extra sensitivity chips...maybe these commentors are just SO aware of others feelings that they generously donated theirs to him?!?!?!

    buttheads.

    **at least they didn't wish death by cancer on fat people. I am sure (please insert appropriate level of sarcasm here) the meth comment was based solely on the enjoyment one gets from poisoning your body with chemicals...

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  25. What a nice excuse to blame problems in health care on overweight people and not the other way around.

    I would not have commented, just quietly act disgusted like the rest of the commenters here.

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  26. That's just so sad -- I recently read a similar thread of comments from an online article and just couldn't believe it. I admit, everyone has mean thoughts from time to time -- but even so, why on earth would you say it in a public forum like that? No matter what, comments like that are cruel and mean spirited.

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  27. A 150 lb person, falling on a small child, could also break a femur. Their language seems quite harsh, and it seems like an odd format to discuss the "problem of obesity" in our country... I probably wouldn't have said anything either.

    Facebook is weird, yo.

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  28. What also freaks me out, in addition to the rudeness and insensitivity and lack of any logic, is how skewed their perception of weight is -- do they really think Oprah weighs 350 pounds? Because I weigh about 250, and Oprah is WAY smaller than me.

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  29. i think people only realize the seriousness of a struggle when they or a loved one has been through it.

    we all have our vulnerabilities.

    they know not what they do, unfortunately.

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  30. Just proof that FB comments are getting to be as bad (if not worse) than YouTube comments.

    Also, as someone from Wyoming, I take offense.

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  31. It's true, fat is the last thing you can ridicule with impunity. Being overweight myself I've had things said to me by "friends" and strangers alike that make my head spin. I probably wouldn't have commented on the thread, but I would have written to each of the contacts on my FB who contributed and told them what I thought, then deleted them from my list. Life's too short to deal with small-minded arseholes like that.

    Oh, and I thought the same thing you said Shannon... Oprah weighs around 200lbs, I don't think even that much. To people like this, EVERYONE overweight is 350lbs.

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