I’ve been writing for websites for about a year and a half now. A lot has changed in my life in the last eighteen months. I’ve begun to obsessively check my email, which my husband kind of hates. I hate-read sites that I wouldn’t even know about if I didn’t look at the internet all day long. (Hi XO!) I actually know the first names of models, but only because Ashley gives me pop quizzes from time to time, just to make sure that I’m qualified to grace this wonderful website. Oh, and I’ve been diagnosed with narcissist personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and generally being an absolutely horrible human being.
Keep in mind, my doctor says that I’m completely healthy. He yells at me to get more rest every once in a while, but I’ve known him since I was an infant so I generally nod and smile at his advice just like I do when my mother starts worrying about my health. He’s a general practioner but he hasn’t recommended that I seek psychiatric help and he knows me very well.
So if my doctor says that I’m A-Okay, who has given me such a dire mental health prognosis? Why, the wonderful people of the internet, of course! The all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-respectful readers who peruse my thoughts on a daily basis. These benevolent readers are obviously concerned for my general well-being and have been able to deduce through careful examination that my brain is all kinds of crazy.
As a writer, part of my job is to come up with opinions to share with the world. Sometimes, those thoughts come easier than others. Sometimes, those opinions are more artfully and fully expressed than others. Every once in a while, I’m in a rush and pushing a deadline and the thoughts come out differently than I had hoped. (I know, the illusion is shattered, right? It’s so fun to think that writers are passionately involved and dedicated to every single piece they publish. Just like I’m sure that you feel emotionally attached to that memo you typed up today about your company’s expense report policy.)
Inevitably, the piece that I feel the least confident in gets read by the most people who happened to enjoy their freshman psych course in college. And in the 600 words that I used to describe why I dislike baby slings or kid-sized parkas, the wonderful readers of the internet have found and diagnosed serious mental illnesses that I didn’t even know I had. They’ve passed judgment on my entire life and everyone I’ve ever met, simply by hearing that I smoked cigarettes in college. Let’s not even get started on the ways they’ve dissected my daughter, simply because she’s being raised by a wacko who writes for a parenting site.
I find it astonishing, all of these people who have never met me in person, seen where I lived or spent any amount of time with my and my family have the ability to deduce what some highly-trained professionals might need at least a month of visits to figure out. No wonder we’re all okay with Dr. Drew giving his “professional opinion” on every celebrity he’s never met or treated. We do it on the internet all the time!
I’m sure that plenty of you will say I invite this criticism the minute that I choose to share my thoughts. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, right? I don’t have to write mine down and post them on the internet. That’s a valid argument. I guess it also gives me the right to diagnose commenters who disagree with me with random psychological disorders every time they comment. (First one to say anything is getting Tourette’s.)
Honestly, I don’t have a problem with people disagreeing with me. My fellow writers and I disagree all the time. Like I think not wearing make-up makes me so brave that I should probably be sainted immediately following my death. Alright, that’s a lie. But I do think that someone failed when they didn’t include my all-time favorite Disney villain Shere Khan in the round-up today. I can say that I think Jen messed up there without suggesting that she has a somatoform disorder. (Though she might… I’m just saying.)
Listen, you don’t have to like what I say. You don’t have to agree with me. But can we stop pretending to Web MD? Can we just say, “No, you’re wrong,” instead of insisting, “No, you’re wrong and no one will ever love you for the rest of your life because you obviously have an antisocial personality disorder.” How about we try that. How about we put away our limited knowledge of dissociation and call it a day. Me and my doctor both thank you. He hates when the internet tries to upstage him.
(Photo: Brainless Tales)