Wednesday, June 22, 2016

When MSers Attack: Hate Mail Fail

After running ActiveMSers for 10 years, I’ve discovered blogging has its occasional hazards. I’ve received angry phone calls from businesses furious that their product did not receive better reviews in my tests. I’ve gotten dismissive e-mails highlighting my idiocy and lack of knowledge about fill-in-the-blank (e.g., “What do you know about stem cell transplants, huh, Dave???”). I’ve even been threatened with a lawsuit for violating HIPAA when a member in her 30s, despite common sense and living in the Internet age, chose to use her full real name on our public, searchable forum. Shocker, Google found it. Although I immediately scrubbed everything related to this member from my website, it took an hour to explain to her mom, yes her mom, that I cannot also remove content from Google. But nothing could have prepared me for last week: an epic, seething over-the-top hate mail from a fellow MSer blasting me for a perceived slight.

“First of all Dave, you have primary progressive MS, stop relating to RRM. The remark you made about the 5 foot nothing nurse really irks me! It sounds like you think you're better than she is? Well hello, you may be taller than she is but, guess what, she can walk and you can't!! So, who is really the nothing? Oh, and yes who has the job! Who the heck gave you this notion that you were better than shorter people? Were you scrawny a geek, and your parents taught you that you should be proud to be tall!? FYI, I'm 5'8" but I think it's terrible how some people be little people for people that are shorter than them to make themselves feel better!”

I don't even troll trolls.
Oof. Okay, for starters I have relapse remitting MS (perhaps now secondary progressive, but not officially) and I’d like to think I relate to all MSers regardless of type. Technically I can still walk (slowly), but like that matters when it comes to being "something." And I do just fine running this little website called ActiveMSers. Ah, I digress. But making fun of short people? That’s not typically my MO. Now, I’m far from infallible. I’ve said some stupid things over the years (usually in a failed attempt at humor), and I’ll fess up, albeit stubbornly at times, when I lay an egg. But what did I do this time? Apparently use the English language properly. See, punctuation matters, e.g., Let’s eat Grandpa v. Let’s eat, Grandpa.

The best that I can infer after I found my jaw on the floor: in my most recent blog post I referred to my petite hero-of-a nurse who amazingly propped up my unconscious body as “five-foot-nothing,” meaning five foot, zero inches. The expression has been used hundreds and hundreds of times in recent news articles. It was immortalized in this iconic scene from the movie Rudy. Heck, usage in America goes back over 100 years. None of it derogatory. But this particular member of ActiveMSers must have grossly misread the sentence and thought that I had made fun of my nurse because of her height and called her “a nothing.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

I debated posting this for obvious reasons, but I felt we all at times need a reminder that words have consequences. I’m not going to kid myself that civility will rise up on the internet like a double rainbow (whoa, double rainbow all the way) and knee-jerk-reactions will vanish like Mr. Snuffleupagus (but he was right there!). But we are better than this. Members of ActiveMSers are working together for the same goal, to live better with multiple sclerosis. We are one.

Resist the urge to criticize this member—well, now former member (I welcome her to rejoin). We all have bad days, we all say things we regret. I’m not excusing her comments, but lashing back serves no positive purpose. This disease of ours can put us on an edge (or a ledge?) that is difficult for others to comprehend. When that happens, take a breath. Step back. Be the bigger person. And for gosh sakes, next time someone feels I need to get straightened out (and there will be a next time), maybe give me the benefit of the doubt. Oh, and leave my parents out of it. My poor folks tried their best.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love this blog, it has helped me laugh through some dark times. Maybe it was the punctuation. Five-foot-nothing vs. five-foot nothing??

Anonymous said...

aww, big hug, Dave.
I've always enjoyed your blog posts. I guess this person was having a really bad day, week, month etc (Happens to the best of us)

Lyla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Bexfield said...

Anon #1, I think you are spot on. All of this because of a single overlooked hyphen. As I said, punctuation matters. And thanks Anon #2 and Lyla; always trying to keep it positive!

ingrid said...

Hey Dave- You write a wonderful blog... it picks me up every time I read it. Keep your chin up :-)

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks Ingrid! My chin wasn't the problem, it was more my jaw hitting the floor. :)

Tina said...

What the junk?
OK, I'll be good. Somebody was having a "got up late & lost all her spoons" kind of day. She'll chill & be OK.
Your blog & ActiveMSers are such positive places to go. There is far too much doom & gloom surrounding this "delightful mess" we're all playing with. Thank you for being a bright spot for us all

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks Tina! If only she had read my other blog about how to get more spoons... http://activemsers.blogspot.com/2012/06/bending-spoon-theory.html

My Odd Sock said...

Well said Dave.
Everybody takes things so darn seriously nowadays.
Geez, mellow people.

Keep it up buddy!

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks MOS! When you want to bellow, just mellow. (I should TM that!)

Jstlookn333 said...

Sorry this happened, Dave. I agree with others that someone was having a very bad day and needed to lash out. Guess it was your turn in the barrel.

I thoroughly enjoy your positive Blog and I hope your bruised jaw heals quickly. :)

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks Jstlookn! Bruised jaw is all healed. :)

Anonymous said...

HI Dave! I love your blog and feel sorry for the person who sent you the hate mail. I confess, my knee jerk reaction was uncharitable, but I work really, really hard to give people the benefit of the the doubt, and to remember that some people are carrying really heavy loads. Keep on keeping on, Dave, and don't take it to heart.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps she had just listened to that old song by Randy Newman, "Nobody Likes Short People." It was a parody though. Anyway hope your month improves massively.

Avril said...

Hi Dave,

The hate mail says more about the sender than you. Some people are just looking for something to take umbrage at and don't pause to read what is written. To me, your comments about the incident with the nurse made me giggle as I could picture the scene. Even across the pond five foot nothing means a height, nothing disrespectful.

Dave Bexfield said...

It seems totally rational to blame Randy Newman. Thanks Anon! And Avril, glad you giggled. Agree that folks should be a little more patient before jumping to conclusions.

Anonymous said...

Love wins.

marcia said...

Oh, nuts to the naysayer! I can't believe she's never heard that expression or known it's meaning...lighten up! I look forward to your funny and informative newsletter each month...keep 'em coming. For me,with my MS, it always helps to look on the bright side and to remember that there is always something to be grateful for...Marcia

Dave Bexfield said...

Absolutely, Marcia. I'm grateful for people like you!

David said...

well said Dave, we all find it tough enough without being slated = keep up the good work.

Dave Bexfield said...

Thanks David, will do!