July 28, 2016
By Lisa Petrison, Ph.D.
Frequently in this group, people make comments about various practitioners or about well-known media figures who discuss various topics relevant to mold-related illness. And I think that it is important for us to have an open discussion with regard to these individuals, because that is how knowledge is created.
On the other hand, sometimes in the context of those discussions, comments are made that I feel violate the group rules of being kind and respectful to those who have made attempts to help those with mold illness, or that are what I perceive to be character attacks. And regardless of whether those individuals are in this group, that is not something that I feel comfortable having happen here.
I thus thought that I would write a post attempting to explain what I feel the difference is, and how I feel that we can have an open discussion while still remaining kind and respectful of others.
Primarily, I think that the way to do this is to focus on factual statements with regard to behaviors, as well as agreement or disagreement with content of discussion.
So for instance, “S/he made X statement and I disagree, for the following reasons” is always a fine thing to say. In addition, “S/he engaged in X behavior, and I personally do not feel comfortable with that or think that was a good thing to do” is also almost always fine. (Provided that the statements that are being shared are accurate, of course.)
On the other hand, what I often think is much less acceptable is when people cite statements that certain individuals have made or behaviors that they have done to draw negative general conclusions about the person and then to share those conclusions with the group.
So for instance, I feel that language that goes into the realm of comments like “scam,” “unprofessional,” “stupid,” “useless shit,” “raking in money” or “rude” is not appropriate to be used in this group, because it seems to me that those comments are in violation of the “kind and respectful” rule.
Those comments are not straightforward reports of things that people have done, and they also are not assessments of comments that people have made. Rather, they are character evaluations and thus fall into the category of “ad hominem attacks.”
If people have done things that are truly problematic, then stating those kinds of conclusions should not be necessary. Insofar as the basic facts of the matter are presented in an accurate and straightforward way, others in the group should be able to draw their own conclusions.
That being the case, I do not think that we are losing anything in terms of relevant information as a result of my enforcing this rule in the group.
I do understand that there are some people in this community who vigorously disagree with me on this point and who feel that being able to call people out as being (say) “unprofessional” or a “scam artist” is really important to them.
A few people that I respect greatly with regard to their general contributions to the mold community have even left the group over my enforcing this rule in it.
While I am sorry to see those people leave the group, I feel strongly enough about this issue myself that I am not willing to change the rule to accommodate their own preference.
Overall, I think that having the group run according to the rules that I have developed makes for a more productive as well as a more pleasant discussion group for all concerned.
And in particular, that it makes for an environment where I personally want to spend my own time, rather than feeling like all I want to do is to get away due to things feeling unpleasant.
So that being the case, regardless of whether other people agree or disagree with me, and regardless of whether people who otherwise would make strong contributions to the group leave the group over my enforcing these rules, I am going to be removing any comments that I believe to be in violation of these rules.
Following are some of the rules relevant to this topic from the Welcome Letter.
Thanks to all for your cooperation following the guidelines that have been set with regard to this issue.
Particularly relevant group rules:
5. Let’s all be as kind and respectful as possible to one another. It’s hard enough to have this illness without being hurt by other people who are in the same situation that we are.
6. Let’s also be as kind and respectful as possible when speaking of other individuals who suffer from mold illness or similar health issues, or who have made efforts to help those with this type of health problem, even if they are not a member of the group. No one is perfect and we need all the allies we can get.
7. No matter what anyone here says or does, there is no excuse for making negative comments about their personality, their intelligence or other personal characteristics. Breaking this rule will be grounds for immediate dismissal from the group.
8. Just as importantly, please do not criticize anyone else’s life choices. It is fine to say, in a kind way, “If you did X, it might be helpful to you.” But please do not say things like, “If you wanted to get better, you would be doing X” or “There is something wrong with you for not doing X” or “What kind of person are you, that you would fail to do X?” For the purposes of this group, other people’s decisions will be considered to be their decisions and thus respected as such. The goal of the group is to provide information and support, and then to let people make their own decisions.