One of my best girlfriends is a Taylor Hicks fan. She is single, no kids, and well-resourced which positions her to be a very good fan (not to mention the fact that she is a type-A personality and rocks everything she sets out to do). After all these years she is pretty deeply rooted in the “fandom”. And let me tell you, there is serious drama therein.
I have always thought her drama stories were funny, even the ones that pissed her off. (Ok, at this moment my phone starts ringing and I get reamed out by said best friend ;-) Because I always thought drama was a waste of time.
But for the last couple months it has been me dumping my stories on her.
Usually I ignore drama, and if something annoys me I write about it in my own subtle way, like a couple years ago when a particular blogger wrote a birth story that went viral. She claimed to be over her child’s diagnosis overnight. She subsequently wrote a few posts that seemed dismissive of the community. But based on the undertow of her posts and her presentation during interviews, I wasn’t completely sold on the picture she was painting (or should I say photographing). So I wrote about how it made me feel, and that was that.
But recently there was a new children’s story published. I did not like the message it promoted about Down syndrome. I stood up for my daughters by writing a joint letter to the author, as well as a private letter to the author.
And then there popped up a blogger who is bent on publicity. He has worked very, very hard and relentlessly to promote his blog. And, finally when the right opportunity presented itself, he jumped on board and hit the news circuit. Some things he said in interviews were offensive to the community. I wrote to him privately and shared my thoughts, concerns, and unsolicited advice with him.
But not everybody chooses to deal with their feelings and concerns privately, and that is ok. So lately the blogs and FB have been abuzz with pro/con this one or that one posts. And that’s ok too. What isn’t ok (to me) is the backlash in the comments.
The comments... filled with sarcasm, bitterness, anger, frustration, defensiveness, and denial. I want to say I am shocked, but I am not. Even the nicest, most levelheaded, most Christian, most thoughtful, most whatever people tend to let their worst side out in the anonymous world of the Internet.
Rather than sharing my opinion of this blogger or that writer, I will ask myself, what is the common thread that has so many people I like and respect bothered (including me)?
I think I know what it is. Each of these people I mentioned has stepped up and taken a very public role in the Down syndrome community. Each one of them is making money off that role. Each one of them is spreading their message far and wide. But the problem is that it is just that, their message. Not my message, not my daughters, not my way. They are not the Lorax and they don’t speak for the trees, know what I mean? But the outside world perceives them as if they do.
Some people are ok with that, as in “any good press” is a good thing, no matter the message or the source. Others are more discerning and although they want the good press, they want more so to take those rare opportunities to spread an advocacy message that really does reflect and include the whole community.
What I have learned from all this? That I owe my girlfriend an apology for secretly believing that adult drama was found only in the Tayor fandom.
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