Reddit Rants and Rages: Oh, DO Tell Me About My Life

Reddit Rants and Rages: Oh, DO Tell Me About My Life February 2, 2018

I’ve been spoiled here at Patheos, sheltered by a platform that encourages lively but respectful debate. Sure, we have more than our fair share of trolls and heated arguments. Still, it wasn’t until I become a target on Reddit for the first time that I’ve been drenched in abuse.

And all it took was a lighthearted holiday post.

A recent tribalistic, Reddit rake across the coals reminded me why I'm glad I'm part of the Patheos tribe instead.
Reddit logo via Second Life redditor Torley, CC By-SA 2.0.

Weight: Giving Thanks for My Metabolism (Please Don’t Hate Me) was intended as a tongue-in-cheek pre-Thanksgiving piece at a time when many people begin dreading holiday weight gain and articles start advising how to avoid it.

Besides, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the grim aspects of my health. Why not write about one of the few positive ones for a change?

We are all judgemental to varying degrees. We can’t help it. That natural instinct toward judgmentalism is as much a legacy of our tribal roots as our poisoned politics. An instinct that once promoted tribal cohesion can now be applied to people we will never meet.

Indeed, anonymity is all the better when pouring out venom and boosting one’s feeling of superiority.

In the post, I confessed to my deepest, darkest secret: I’m one of those people everyone hates who can eat anything they want and not gain weight. (The exceptions are part of my story.) I counted on my Patheos Nonreligious readers to be honest arbiters of my irreverent retelling, as usual.

And they were.

But once my post was released to the wild it was free to be scavenged by rabid redditors. I scratched my head when, after all those months, I suddenly began receiving negative comments on my piece.

I wouldn’t have even known the source of my out-of-the-blue snipes if someone hadn’t helpfully provided a link to the weight loss subReddit thread in which my post and I were personally savaged (literally no pun intended).

Redditors are cut from a different cloth than the typical Patheos reader. Odds are, in fact, that most of the forty commenters never even read my piece at all. Reddit is too often a misnomer.

Perhaps Reddit should be renamed Skimmit. Even that would be generous. According to RationalWiki, redditors often just read a title and upvote or downvote based on that.

The ones who actually bothered to glance at my post jumped on details out of context with the abandon of Devin Nunes on a bender. Eating a cookie before lunch only spoiled my appetite when I was a child. But that would’ve spoiled their rant, wouldn’t it? (And speaking of rants, even more bile was spilled on the Reddit Rant subReddit, though I haven’t seen it. And won’t.)

At the time I published the post, my readers knew that I had recently — and painfully — revealed my childhood molestations when talking about the accusations against the later defeated Roy Moore. Therefore, my offhand, deadpan comparison to that highly personal revelation and an obviously trivial one would be unlikely to be viewed as gratuitous by my regular readers.

Not so, redditor red-meaters.

I really only skimmed a few of the comments. I couldn’t bear to read more.

A number had already been deleted, including one with the message:

  • Please do not suggest nor discuss any real world interactions with the subject of /r/fatlogic posts.

I really don’t need to know what the redditor wanted to do to me. Indeed, the first comment I saw about my molestations cured me of any desire to skim any other attacks.

My mom had commented humorously on my post (as she has often said in person):

Still no sympathy from me.

Yet, one of these redditors had the gall to set my mom straight about her own eating habits, not on Reddit, but to her directly on the post‘s comment thread:

No, you gain weight from eating too much.

If you think my mom said, “What more do you know about me?” you don’t know my mom:

This is how she actually responded:

Or you gain weight from having a certain kind of metabolism. In times of starvation I would be a survivor. It’s not all that helpful in modern society.

My daughter already commented in this blog that I don’t overeat. She sees the very small portions I eat.

A recent tribalistic, Reddit rake across the coals reminded me why I'm glad I'm part of the Patheos tribe instead.
Via Elaine with Grey Cats, CC By-SA 2.0.

Indeed, I did. I hadn’t felt the need to write about the countless times I’ve either lost weight eating the same foods and portions as my mom or she gained it doing the same. I wasn’t trying to prove that I have a weirdly wonderful metabolism or that my mom has a bad one.

I was just having fun with the story while writing about some episodes that weren’t laughfests at the time.

It was not meant as a “humblebrag.” Nor was I asserting that I was a “special snowflake.” (From the little I skimmed you can see why I foreswore reading further.)

My readers understand. But redditors are commenters of a different color.

I don’t care if you want to pile on me, but leave my mom out of it. What planet do you come from?

A recent tribalistic, Reddit rake across the coals reminded me why I'm glad I'm part of the Patheos tribe instead.
Via Eva Blue, CC By-SA 2.0.

Oh, Planet Reddit.

It’s been evident my entire life that my mom and I had different metabolisms…long before my first illnesses. I can actually gain weight, as told in the piece. But it takes a lot of extra calories over a long time.

It honestly never occurred to me that detailing the extraordinary events that has made me on occasion gain weight would be held as an abrogation of the overwhelming pattern throughout the rest of my life.

If your goal is to distort what I relayed into a Reddit clustercluck, go to it and good luck. But don’t tell my mom she overeats when I explicitly stated that she doesn’t.

The same putz sarcastically called me a moderate for my eating habits on the post’s comment thread. And it’s true that for many people overeating is a very real problem.

The huge box of chocolate-covered European cookies given to Keith for Christmas (who doesn’t have a sweet tooth) would’ve been consumed rapidly by many people with eating disorders. I’ve been eating a couple before breakfast every morning (without spoiling my appetite).

Look,  I won’t pretend that my small appetite or the fact that my mom trained me not to snack as a child have nothing whatsoever to do with my skinniness. And I didn’t claim that in the piece, either.

But I can’t emphasize enough how many calories I was intentionally scarfing down in Sicily in order to regain the weight I had lost when I had trouble swallowing due to my dermatomyositis. I was on a high dose of notoriously weight-promoting prednisone at the time without noticeably putting on the pounds.

My dysphagia, by the way, was another detail distorted as yet more “proof” that that I don’t have a weirdly wonderful metabolism. Gee, it never occurred to me that this was the reason I lost weight before I began treatment. Maybe I should’ve said that in the post.

Oh, wait. I did.

The very title of the “fatlogic” subReddit thread implies that my thinness stems from my health problems: Person with chronic illness also has skinnylogic.

My illnesses — as told in the post — were indeed related to my weight ups and downs. Yet, other than my dysphagia and my coma they haven’t been the cause of my lifelong skinniness.

You know, I personally don’t blame people who say that they simply need to eat less to lose weight. For them, that’s probably true. They would know more about their habits and bodies than I would.

I applaud all those who have fought their tendencies and managed to lose weight. And don’t judge them when they fail or gain it back again. Even if they’ve attacked me on Reddit.

But then, I’m not a redditor.

This will likely not be the last time I or my posts are distorted in order for people to feel superior on Reddit or elsewhere. People being people they will jump on bandwagons and cherrypick apart in support of their tribe’s preconceived ideas.

Yet I’m glad that I’m part of the Patheos tribe instead.

A recent tribalistic, Reddit rake across the coals reminded me why I'm glad I'm part of the Patheos tribe instead.
you broke reddit via Torley, CC BY-SA 2.0. Forgive me for not crying.

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