I’m unfriending you, Internet

My dar­ling wife alert­ed me to a post on Face­book, by a Friend of a Friend (so I can’t com­ment there, since I’m not Friends with the Friend… ugh), a post that began with, “This just in: ADHD also diag­nosed as ‘child­hood’” and linked to a blog post at the Psy­chol­o­gy Today web­site about how the French (of all peo­ple) don’t have any ADHD cas­es, because they (are enlight­ened?) diag­nose the root caus­es: mal­nu­tri­tion, poor par­ent­ing, dumb­ness, etc.

The com­ments on this post (to which I can­not com­ment) cov­er the range, but are most­ly fol­low­ing the lead of the orig­i­nal poster, fun­ny quips pre­sent­ed as insight, opin­ion mas­querad­ing as fact, and assump­tions pre­sent­ed as research.

I have a child with ADHD (inat­ten­tive, not hyper­ac­tive). He is bright, fun­ny, cre­ative and dis­tract­ed. He is on med­ica­tion, and it has done won­ders for him. At one point before he was diag­nosed, my bril­liant lit­tle boy came to us, after watch­ing a com­mer­cial on TV, and told us that he thought he need­ed to go to the Syl­van Learn­ing Cen­ter. The look on his face, that defeat­ed, but pathet­i­cal­ly hope­ful look, stomped on my heart.

If you know us, you know we do noth­ing with­out research. Our child was test­ed, diag­nosed, seen by doc­tors, sec­ond opin­ioned, and final­ly med­icat­ed. He has gone from being a reme­di­al con­cern to excelling in every aspect of his life, because he can pay atten­tion to the things that are impor­tant to him.

But the ADHD diag­no­sis issue is just the trig­ger that got me going this morn­ing. I now know a lot about ADHD, about the process of diag­nos­ing, about how it affects my kid, about the ins and outs of med­icat­ing my child, about the “cock­tail” need­ed to help him con­cen­trate then help him sleep. I see how he feels when he lets him­self down because his brain doesn’t work, and how he feels when he tops a test or a con­test or fin­ish­es a project or a book. I know what ADHD looks like, to me. This Friend of a Friend does not know what it looks like to me, but that did not pre­vent him from lump­ing every­one in togeth­er, damn the shades of grey, in the ser­vice of his clever com­men­tary.

Here’s what I want­ed to add to this guy’s Face­book post, but couldn’t:

Hi. This post is so insen­si­tive, thought­less, and knee-jerk that I am inclined to answer in kind. With­out know­ing you, your chil­dren, how you par­ent, or what you are like, I’d like to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to be an ass­hole to a per­fect stranger, because online, there are no reper­cus­sions. Ready? Here goes. ‘I bet, since you’re so into respon­si­ble par­ent­ing, you beat the fuck out of your chil­dren if they mis­be­have. You cretin.’ What’s that? I’m sor­ry, did I over­step? Did I say some­thing with­out know­ing shit about what I was say­ing? Why, yes, I did. You’re wel­come.”

There’s been some dis­cus­sion online about com­ments on arti­cles, how they rarely add to a dis­cus­sion, being either trolled or face­tious or down­right harm­ful. I agree, and would like to add to that the sug­ges­tion that all of Face­book (et al.) is one big com­ment thread full of mean­ing­less pan­der­ing and hate­ful, irre­spon­si­ble, self­ish com­men­tary.

This is what is wrong with Inter­net com­ment­ing.

There is no space for com­pas­sion, for empa­thy, for under­stand­ing.

I know I am also guilty here of over­sim­pli­fy­ing the issue. The Inter­net is a tool, after all. There are places set aside for thought­ful dis­cus­sion and grate­ful heal­ing. There are nice peo­ple online, even on Face­book, and I like being con­nect­ed to them in a way I nev­er could in Real Life. I appre­ci­ate and love them.

But the rest of the Inter­net can seri­ous­ly fuck off. I don’t have time for you any­more.