We all want more – more information, more money, more bacon… The truth of the matter, though, is that the internet, while chock full o’ information, is a dark, dirty cesspool of scary shit that is just waiting to make you soil yourself.
Have you ever known someone who Googles everything that is wrong with them and winds up driving themselves crazy because they have officially diagnosed themselves with Ebola? I used to be that way, to an extent. Once, when my child was young, I looked in one of the What to Expect… books and thought he had meningitis. That’s some scary shit for anyone, let alone an infant (not to mention a young, nervous parent). In the end, after collecting myself for a brief moment, I came to realize it was a combination of teething and heat rash, but hey, it made for an exciting few minutes.
Unfortunately, I believe the Paleo world is creating a similar phenomena. I don’t think it is a secret that I am in a Facebook group dedicated to promoting the Paleo Movement, and, in fact, I am a guest blogger on the Paleo Movement Online Magazine, which is officially launching today. The group, called the IPMG (a closed group, almost 6k strong), is a great place to go to receive support, ask some questions, and generally associate with some relatively like-minded individuals. Unfortunately, group diagnosing seems to happen.
I understand it, to an extent. When you’re around people you’re comfortable with, it’s easy to open up and just seek an opinion – especially when you get the fat adaptation shits and want to know what the hell is happening. The difference, for me, is that I choose to ask my spouse for an opinion on non-paleo-related things. In internet groups, Paleo or not, what often happens is that we search for medical opinions pre-emptive of an actual doctor consultation. Paleo groups seem to consider themselves better than doctors, because much of what we do goes against what our doctors, and the FDA, tell us. Mix in a bit of medical distrust and/or a bad experience, or two, and we are ripe for setting ourselves up for a potential disaster.
On Opinion Seeking –
When we seek the opinions of others, we mainly do it so that we can rationalize the decision we actually want to make, and often it only takes one person to agree with us so that we feel OK with what we want to do.
The second part of this process, is that when we make a poor decision, having someone help us make he decision allows us to direct part of the blame in their direction, if we fall flat on our ass. The others, who agree with us, help us justify our actions and serve as an emotional shield, of sorts.
The third, and final, part of the process is that, in group diagnosing, the inquisitor often practices a combination of insulated and defensive listening. In insulated listening, we refuse to acknowledge the opinions that disagree with what we want to hear, and when you couple that with taking some of the valid, dissenting, points as personal attacks, things can quickly get fugly.
The Paleo Community has a chip on its shoulder, rightfully so.
Many of us have been called quacks, fools, fad dieters, or just straight-out crazy by strangers, co-workers and even family. We know that what we are doing is working for us because of the considerable losses and gains that we have made in many areas of our lives, despite what the nay-sayers tell us. It is entirely understandable to want to circle the wagons and keep the bad voices out**, but we all need to keep in mind that common sense should still come into the equation of making a sound decision.
(SOB – Apparently WordPress doesn’t feel this next paragraph should format correctly)
I think the big thing to remember is that, in the end, you have to make your own decision free of the internet, and free of outside influence in the form of groups. Ask a close friend, confidant, or spouse (hopefully he/she meets the context of close friend and confidant), who will give you an honest, thoughtful answer, for their opinion. Then, talk to a professional, and make the best decision for yourself and your convictions. You don’t need us to help you make the best decision for you.
**Note: If you are hearing bad voices, in the absence of real people being present, please seek a medical professional.