Friday, June 15, 2012

Rules of Engagement

It never ceases to amaze me how much drama can result from one person attempting to help another. This is especially true when both parties have Lyme Disease. Because of the disease's neurological effects, it can often be very difficult for two patients to understand one another.

Communicating via the Internet only makes these problems worse. Using a text based format, it becomes impossible to determine the tone that the person intended. Sarcasm is easily misconstrued and jokes often do not have their desired effect. Additionally, we are very likely to be opinionated about our personal treatment methods.

Unfortunately, along with our confusion, many of us have very short tempers. We're very opinionated about our treatments, too. When we see a comment that we don't like in one of our groups it's often instinct to argue. In turn, this may cause the original poster to become defensive. Before you know it, you're caught in the middle of an all-out flame war.

This becomes incredibly difficult for anyone who is looking for a support group. When looking for a group where you can find encouragement and consolation, no one wants to worry about additional stress. So how can you account for these easily made mistakes? Though it can be frustrating, the answer is patience.

When you encounter a post that you don't agree with, the first rule is to ask yourself whether this post really needs a reply. Taking the time to ask yourself this simple question may cause you to realize that what you were just about to say wasn't all that constructive.

Next, read the post again. Try to figure out if there was another way that that comment could have been meant. Perhaps the person was being sarcastic? Or maybe ironic? Are you sure they were being serious?

However when we see someone post a comment that worries us, such a something that we feel suggests discontinuing treatment or even suicide, courtesy will unfortunately go out the window.Though we don't mean to be crass, our concern is overwhelming and we don't take the time to be polite.

Even the best of support groups can occasionally get a bit out of control. It's your job as an active member to not feed into the drama. Do the best you can not to participate in needless bickering. If you don't feel you can handle this responsibility, privately contact a group moderator and turn off your computer.

I'm sorry if I'm sounding a bit harsh today, but this is something that needs saying. When someone joins a board or group, it's because they are in need of help and support, not petty comments and name-calling. If we can all do our best to live up to these "rules," maybe our boards can become more friendly environments.

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