One of the most essential aspects of living with Migraine disease is having a good support system. This is true at any age, but may be even more important for children, teens, and young adults.
The Internet provides us with more opportunities to give and receive support than ever before, which can significantly improve our health and our quality of life.
There are, however, unique problems with online communication and groups formed for support. There are two that tend to raise their ugly heads with increasing frequency:
- Written communication online lacks hearing a person's tone of voice and seeing their facial expressions. This can lead to people misunderstanding what they're saying and how they're saying it.
- This is truly sad, but too many people will say rude, obnoxious, hurtful things to people online that they wouldn't dare say to their faces. They forget that the people they're talking to are real people, not just Internet entities.
Let me give you an example...
Because of the work I do, people tend to add me to Facebook groups without asking or telling me. I've been getting notifications of posts to one such group for some time now. Yesterday, I went to the group to see what it was and why I'd been added. I clicked on the link to see the list of members and find the group administrator. She wasn't one of my Facebook "friends," but I clicked to go to her Facebook page anyway. She has her privacy settings set so that you can't see what's on her page unless you're FB friend, so I couldn't tell anything about who she is or why she might have added me to the group.
So, I went back to the group and posted, "Why was I added to this group. People shouldn't be added without being asked." Well! That started a firestorm. People thought I was being "snarky," even though I was just asking a simple question, and they quickly posted some incredibly nasty comments to me.
It turned out that the group was an online support group set up to help a young woman who's having severe problems with Migraines. The members who posted so nastily saw their comments as "having her back," and herein lies an enormous problem.
Having someone's back doesn't have to be done by being unnecessarily rude and nasty toward other people. Nor is having someone's back an excuse for such behavior. In fact, it makes the whole group, including the young Migraineur, look really bad. People with Migraine and other headache disorders need to stick together, not tear into each other.
I implore everyone to think twice before saying something rude and obnoxious and consider...
- Are you sure you understand what the other person was saying and how they meant it?
- What would be accomplished by responding meanly and rudely?
- Even if the other person was rude, do you want to be that kind of person?
- Wouldn't it be more productive to be kind and polite and try to turn the other person around?
The bottom line is that living with Migraines and headaches is difficult enough. None of us needs extra stress from misinterpreting what other people say or being the target of nastiness and rudeness. So, let's just not do it.
© Teri Robert, 2013
Last updated May 7, 2013.