Commentary on the Gluten-free ‘Fad’ & Derailing (part 3/conclusion)

Context: Extraordinarily presumptuous people (unintentionally) continuing to be irritating as hell and assert that gluten free is a ‘fad’, derailing explanations to the contrary, and continuing to assert that nothing they’ve said has been the least bit offensive.  Parts 1 and 2 explain why attitudes and discourses about dietary choices as ‘fads’ are problematic (don’t worry, not in academic language—mostly in swearwords and sarcasm).  Part 3 (this post) pokes some holes in derailing tactics commonly used after someone has already been called out for assholery. I’ve taken some time to calm down, so there are less swear words and less of a general snarky tone in this one (erm…maybe not, actually).  That’s either a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.   Anywho, you may want to look back at the previous posts for context—i’m not big on summarizing things all over again at the moment.

7. “But I’m NICE!  I’m a good person!”

No, you’re not.  Niceness is not a thing you *are*, it is a way of acting, being, and respecting other people.  It takes practice, and it can vary from situation to situation.  You have been nice in the past, sure.  You try to make a genuine effort to be nice to people, great.  I mean that, it isn’t sarcasm.  This doesn’t, however, give you a niceness shield to hide behind in all present and future interactions where somebody questions how your actions, words or attitudes have a shitty impact on other people.  You still have to be accountable.  Unless you want to throw in the towel on being a legitimately good person that is.  You know, the kind of person who has empathy and respect for other human beings and their perspectives.  One who learns from mistakes instead of pretending nothing offensive was ever said.  One who practices active listening and avoids engaging in derailing tactics when being called out for shitty words/attitudes/behaviours.

I can’t think of a single instance where the phrase, “but I’m a nice guy!” is a good response to being called out for anything. The next time “but I’m nice!” crosses your mind, stop, take deep breath, and consider why this might be a problematic response and how you might more productively engage with the situation at hand. (Hint: when I say ‘productively’, I mean in a way that involves respectful listening rather trying to prove you’re right to the person calling you out.)

8. “But I’m just critical of the INDUSTRY making money by selling gluten free things to people who DON’T KNOW any better!!”

Why. Are. You. Making. This. Your. Business.?  WHY do you assume people don’t know any better, and that you know better than them?  Why do you focus on the marketing strategies of health food section but take for granted the marketing strategies and impacts of all the other foods in the grocery store? Why do you pay zero attention to how the prevalence of certain foods (i.e. wheat, beef, sugar) in dominant north american consumer contexts comes from a specific historical context and political economy involving the changing context of farming and labour, lobbyists and government crop subsidies, and not necessarily much concern for consumer well being? Why don’t you listen when people who need (or choose) gluten free diets tell you they are super happy about the growth of the gluten free industry and resulting accessibility of foodstuffs? (Why are you such an ass?)

Please. Stop. Talking.  There is a subtext in all of the things you are saying/posting.  You are still not seeing the subtext, even though I am explaining it very clearly and thoroughly. I honestly cannot comprehend how you can continue to refuse to see the subtext.  You must be very determined (or kind of stupid).

(yes, I know that last bracket was mean. nope, I still don’t take it back.  I feel no guilt for neglecting to pander to your feelings when you have continued to be an ass to me. I’m still angry, apparently.)

9. “But you’re being too SENSITIVE!  This isn’t even about you!”

Yes.  It is.  The only reason you think I have ‘legitimate’ health problems is because I have explained them to you.  Otherwise I get lumped into the category of fad diet follower all the time by people who don’t know me, people who refuse to take my illness and dietary choices seriously in lots of places throughout my daily life.  I should NOT have to justify my choices about my health in order to avoid being disrespected.  By well meaning friends.  By food service people.  By health care professionals. —Which is the worst by the way, and ends up doing a lot of harm.  How are people supposed to get the support they need from doctors and specialists when they too can often assume you’re exaggerating your symptoms or exaggerating the positive benefits of dietary changes, and that if you don’t test positive for this specific antibody, you might not really be that sick   Thanks, I didn’t come for a colonoscopy because it was fun btw.  Thankfully not all health care professionals are jackasses, but the jackasses make it much harder than they could ever possibly imagine, because despite their years and years of study, what the sick person is going through is supremely outside the realms of anything they have ever personally experienced in more cases than not. The medical jackassery I’m referring to is more than ‘a few bad apples’ and seems to be systemically rooted in a process of professionalization that subtly rewards being patronizing as a desirable trait in all the various medical fields. In my experience, good, empathetic, non-patronizing health care professionals are the exception rather than the norm. Also, the jackasses almost never know they’re being jackasses which is especially exhausting (like you, ‘friend’ who keeps refusing to see all the complexity that is embedded in the attitudes that you take for granted as simple and non-problematic.)  The worst is the health care providers that don’t seem to ever stop to ponder that they might actually be acting in ways that are detrimental to their patients, because they have spent quite a lot of time being validated by other self righteous know-it-alls, without ever having to genuinely listen to perspectives that don’t mesh with their current way of thinking.  This is absolutely exhausting and also demoralizing. If you haven’t been through this yourself it is probably impossible for you to actually get how much this sucks. You can try to imagine it, you can make yourself believe that you mostly get it, but in all honesty you can likely never truly conceive the depth of how shitty this is.  There are no words.

10. “Sorry if you were offended, but…”

Um… thanks, BUT…That was not a real apology.  Learn how to apologize. Google is a good resource.  I’m done now.

Other helpful links…

Derailing for Dummies is a helpful resource that breaks down the various derailing strategies I’ve pointed out in the last few posts, alongside quite a few more.  Please read this. You need to learn this shit.  It will make you a less shitty human being.  It will also help you learn to recognize when other people are being shitty, so that ideally you could try and help your friends be less shitty too.

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