There was a Tool Box Tuesday planned for today (a Saturday, which tells you all you need to know about me), and there are a couple more, deeper subjects on the burner that I’ve been working on, as well. As has become my habit, though, I wake up with a bee in my briefs or words already in my head, and when I sit down, something brand new comes out. It’s not my intention to offend anyone in this little piece, but I’m fully aware that I may, so let me purse my lips, raise my hands in openness, and lower my head in apology now.
They teach classes in that stuff up here in Canada. (I’m just being goofy, of course they don’t…)
The title that sits at the top of this piece right now may not be the one it’s published with. It came out on its own when I sat down: Privateers, Buccaneers, and Charlatans. The term snake-oil salesmen crossed through on its way to the bathroom, as well, but last night I watched Master & Commander, so old-timey tales of the sea are still in my head. It refers to those of us out for their own aggrandisement, sometimes at the expense of others but not always, and using their own injuries and the resulting disorders that come from them as springboards, justification and earned street cred, to enterprises that are for profit, whether that fills their ego or their pocket.
It’s no secret that terms like certified life, health, or recovery coach bother me when they’re plastered on Vista-Print business cards or Facebook business pages (the new door shingle). I’ve written about those before and expressed doubt about those who leap to the aid of others, for a price, in ways that are outside of the normal health-care system. I tend to automatically question their motives, as well as their skills and credentials, and often quite openly. So far, I’ve only engaged with one who met my questions with reasonable counterpoints and accreditation that I was satisfied with. Most others either ignored me or became defensive, which tends to only more firmly root my doubt.
What I’ve noticed most about these folks are that though they are aware of the need these days to make use of social media, they do not engage the communities they try to build outside of their business persona. Vlogs, blogs, Facebook groups, and Twitter accounts become promotional tools, not methods of active interaction outside of that narrow need to advocate their own particular brand. They tend not to click the like button too much, if at all. They don’t generally have casual conversations on other people’s social media posts, won’t often respond in a timely way to comments on their own, or become active in topics of conversation in other online advocacy/support groups, though they may post items that have promotional value under the guise of inspiring conversation. I’m reminded of chefs who latch onto a healthy eating social movement to sell cookbooks.
Perhaps I’m feeling particularly cynical this morning, I don’t know. Some people actually have real lives outside of Facebook, so maybe I’m actually just jealous. That could be a thing, too.
I am perfectly willing to accept that there may be those who appear this way, but what they’re doing is, in fact, part and parcel of their own journey forward, that it works towards their own well-being in ways we just cannot see so easily. There is one person I know but won’t name who has garnered some criticism for what seems to be a mercenary approach like this but fits that description, I believe, perfectly. She’s one of the sweetest, most unassuming people I’ve ever met, and still struggles daily. Clinging to survival on $13k a year disability benefits and the kindness of friends as I am now, I also understand the need to make a living and feed your family. It’s the parasitical nature in which some of these people attach themselves to a cause, a movement, a very personal social issue that bothers me, and the way in which they seem to bathe in the adoration of sycophants but rail against or ignore valid criticism or questions; the way they stay to their little ponds, but do nothing for the group of us in the bigger sea with the same troubles they say they want to help with. There’s also the rigid motivational dogma some espouse that often runs roughshod over accepted, evidence-based, definitions, therapies, and treatments.
Believe that drugs are bad if you want, but don’t go telling anyone else that, or that eating kale and taking a meditative walk in the woods is a fair replacement for proper health care.
It is not my place (or anyone’s, for that matter) to criticise or disparage anything that anyone may take comfort from or that helps them manage, with the understanding that whatever it is isn’t generally unhealthy, or interferes with someone else’s journey. It’s the same reason that, as an atheist, I don’t criticise religion, though I will those who use it to proselytise hatred and bigotry. Same thing. It’s the motivations and the methods I often dislike and question, and certainly any patently outrageous claims anyone makes in an effort to get that crowd into the tent at five cents a head.
That everyone’s path is different, that what they find inspiring, or what helps them manage each day, will be different from mine is a concept I certainly accept and understand. When some try to take advantage of the often desperate need for relief we have and in such a way that puts them in a light while putting everyone else, sometimes even the normal health care community, into shadow, well, then my inner warrior tends to usurp my outer Canadian.
NOTE: This essay was almost finished Saturday (two days ago) but I set it aside to simmer a little bit because it just seemed a bit…something, not sure what at the time. Later in the day, I decided not to publish it because that something turned out to be a very negative vibe and I had difficulty having anyone see that so openly. An old friend, a man who never bought into the general vilification I got on the job because I always seemed angry, said to me in a comment, “Truth be known, I want to read the primary post, don’t be afraid…You know that those who post here have your total support and only look forward to reading the world through Patrick’s eyes.” It made me recognise that hiding something because it might seem a bit negative is not conducive to the open sharing in order to stay honest with myself kick I’ve been on. Thanks for reminding me of that, Eric.