Saturday, March 26, 2011

Negative Criticism

When I was a journalist we'd celebrate when we received letters of criticism regarding the material we wrote, particularly if the criticism was about an opinion in an editorial or column.  Today that criticism usually comes in the form on an email, or a comment at the bottom of a blog post.

In the e-asthma world, the post I've received the most criticism of is the post where I was the most optimistic about my disease, and the post was "The Seven Benefits of having Asthma."  I basically wrote that I find it useless to sit around saying, "Whoa is me!" and more useful to take that disease as a gift from God and an incentive to improve your life.

The advantages I see in this disease is that it has given me a unique perspective on life because I've come close to death more than once, a sense of vulnerability in that I know I will not live forever and that I need to make the best of my time here, a tighter bond with God (religiosity), empathy for other people who have a disease, improved intelligence because instead of hanging with the guys I would read and learn, the ability to share my experiences, and the gift of cleanliness because I'm allergic to dust and mold.

So why would someone have a problem with that?  What do you want me to do, sit around and sulk and feel sorry for myself and live in a bubble and hate my life.  Man, I would hate to live that life.  Yet this appears to be what some people would like of a poor asthmatic.  

Consider the following:
"these 7 benefits of having asthma were useless. they didn't help me with anything. you people are so stupid maybe think twice about having those your site. or just find some better benefits because the ones you have are just peices of junk. whoever came up with those must be 5 because those things are super gay"
You see, a comment like that isn't even worth replying to, and usually I don't.  Yet I'm posting it here just to make my point.  No one would wish asthma on anyone else, yet if you so happen to have it, I can think of many worse things that could happen to a person.

Or how about this one:
 Although the sentiments in the list of seven are things to strive for; not many people suffering with a disease as serious as asthma or copd or emphysema would consider their conditions "benefits". Imagine if you were a child with a life-long debilitating illness like asthma, or an elderly person barely able to breathe.
Um, I am that person.  I was the young kid who could barely breathe, and instead of choosing to sit around wallowing in pity I chose the nobler route. I chose the nobler route when I was just 10.   I sat and had many discussions with God about what plans he has for me now that he has given me asthma.

The author continues:
You really need to be careful when addressing things to the population you are dealing with. This article had little sensitivity for the sufferer as it was written in what seemed to be rather glib sound-bites. I wonder of the author is an asthma sufferer. Because unless you've been through the near suffocating experience of having to rely on meds breathe, you would write with greater sensitivity and explanation. If the author does have a lung condition than perhaps they need to generate their own "empathy" in a greater fashion when writing such material. In any event, the editors of this site should also be more responsible about what is written here.
If nothing else, this criticism is a perfect example of how you shouldn't criticize someone based on one small clip of what that person has written or said.  I didn't feel the need to reply to this comment, yet I was honored to see one of my faithful readers came to my defense.

I believe there are two roads one can take once diagnosed with asthma.  You can do your best to control it and use it as a tool to better your life, or you can wallow in hate and misery and feel sorry for yourself while you repeat over and over, "Why me?" 

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