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But what has your mother done for you lately?
August 13, 2013 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Jesus, MeFi, you were doing so well, and then… this.

Maybe you thought cultural sensitivity only extends as far as inconsequential, arbitrary etiquette, like remembering not to offer your left hand to shake and not sticking your chopsticks into the rice, and not, you know, actually deep and meaningful cultural differences, like the personal meaning of "family," and "filial responsibility," and "aging." The answers in that AskMe thread don't just seem Americentric, they're like some kind of idealized upper-middle New England WASP front: why not join a ladies' social club? why not sit on the board of a local charity nonprofit? why not while away lazy afternoons playing bridge? Hell, half the people answering the question seem happy to just flat-out medicalize the differences they see!

Most people would agree that interacting with and caring for aging parents can be a source of difficulty. But I'm not sure the answers have any reason to be so presumptuous, heartless, and dismissive of difference. Or maybe MeFi can start looking forward to more snappy answers to eldercare questions? That would be a treat! "Your parents didn't bother to accumulate a nest egg before retirement? Well, sucks to be them! Feel free to wash your hands of that little matter."
posted by Nomyte to Etiquette/Policy at 10:21 AM (196 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

I haven't read every answer over there yet, but it seems to me that the OP is asking for specific advice on how to establish boundaries, which is made more difficult because her mom has different cultural expectations.

As I read it, OP isn't asking "how can I, within this cultural framework, establish boundaries with my mother that don't bruise her cultural expectations." OP is asking flat out "how do I talk to my mother about boundaries, and how do I not feel guilty about enforcing them."
posted by phunniemee at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I had to do some sort of boundary management with my mom long before she got to the state of being an aging parent.

I dunno. I feel like we read different threads, Nomyte.
posted by rtha at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2013 [39 favorites]


We're not necessarily just dealing with one culture here, though. The asker may identify with a different culture than the mother. If that's the case, then there's going to be some friction, and it would be just as insensitive to the asker to tell her "assume the role your mother wants you to" as it is to the mother that we are telling the asker "set some boundaries and get X kind of therapy" or whatever.
posted by Jpfed at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


"My emotions seem to be dictated by my mom’s moods" and "I am becoming less emotionally healthy by the day" is not just an example of normal, healthy cultural difference.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2013 [30 favorites]


I think the variety of answers to personal relationship questions is a feature of AskMe, not a bug. It is necessary and proper that all answerers do not always agree on the best courses of action. This is what makes AskMe so helpful, in so many different ways, to so many different people.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:36 AM on August 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Nomyte: "why not join a ladies' social club?"

I don't know where you're from, but the Eastern Orthodox church my baba went to in Philly had this exact kind of thing, and it was great for her and her friends. It's not a waspy whatever-the-hell you're projecting deal to go to a social club.
posted by boo_radley at 10:38 AM on August 13, 2013 [35 favorites]


Nomyte, you seem to have trouble with AskMe questions generally lately. I'm not really sure that castigating people for having a different view of the situation than you do, especially when many of the answers are specifically grounded in personal experience, is a helpful way to discuss your concerns with the community here.

they're like some kind of idealized upper-middle New England WASP front

Some of us are actually from that tradition. I'm not saying "Oh hey, it's tough to be us also!" but there's no reason that trying to give the OP meaningful options for what is, for them, an unworkable situation isn't a valid way to interact in Ask MetaFilter.

Like others, I do not see this as just a "Hey different cultures!" situation. I had a similar situation that was, in my case, the result of someone's untreated mental illness. There are varying ways to deal with this sort of situation, but "Establish boundaries and make the other person primarily responsible for their own emotional well-being" is one of them. From my cultural tradition anyhow.

Put more bluntly, as much as we would like it to not be so, having a parent with an untreated physical or mental illness can be a very negative situation for even well-meaning children much less people who may have their own issues to deal with. Not every family is a happy one and not every familial relationship is a salvageable one. There are some real downsides to presuming a "Family above all else" sentiment and I think people are just trying to point that out since the Op is clearly struggling with the situation as it is. If you have some advice that you think would be helpful and you can offer it without being a jerk to the other commenters, I'd suggest that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:39 AM on August 13, 2013 [78 favorites]


I occasionally share your sense that MeFi has a particular point of view on different topics, and it can be frustrating or limiting if you feel that another point of view is being silenced or marginalized.

I can't say that I see that going on in that thread, though there's some reference to Old World / New World tensions at the end of the question. But the question really does not ask for responses that address that particular dynamic.

Your MeTa post is pretty agitated, for lack of a better word, and this clearly strikes a nerve with you. Maybe take a step back from the computer for an hour or two, take a walk, and then revisit that AskMe to write the response you think it deserves?

You'll probably do more good that way than by kicking up dust on the Gray.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:42 AM on August 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


It doesn't matter what the culture is, when one person is emotionally manipulating another person straight into a breakdown it's wrong and I'm glad that was pointed out in the comments to the post.
posted by crankylex at 10:42 AM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I, on the other hand, was happy to see a thread about difficult family members that wasn't overwhelmingly filled with 'sacrifice yourself on the altar of some idealized Hallmark family and be grateful for the opportunity.'
posted by winna at 10:43 AM on August 13, 2013 [15 favorites]


> Maybe take a step back from the computer for an hour or two, take a walk, and then revisit that AskMe to write the response you think it deserves?

I wanted to make this post last night. I slept on it. I still wanted to make this post.

> Nomyte, you seem to have trouble with AskMe questions generally lately.

I've had to edit one question which was considered too chatty. It was this one, about computer programming. Apart from that, I don't think I've anything deleted on AskMe in weeks or even months. I honestly have no idea what you're talking about.
posted by Nomyte at 10:47 AM on August 13, 2013


boo_radley: "Nomyte: "why not join a ladies' social club?"

I don't know where you're from, but the Eastern Orthodox church my baba went to in Philly had this exact kind of thing, and it was great for her and her friends. It's not a waspy whatever-the-hell you're projecting deal to go to a social club.
"

Wow, good friend in Philly calls her grandma baba & family is Ukranian. I bet your baba knows my friend's baba.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:47 AM on August 13, 2013


you seem to have trouble with AskMe questions generally lately.

Yeah looks like I confused your last MeTa post which was actually about MeFi but it had the same "You're doing MeFi wrong" tone to it. Sorry about that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:49 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


And that post was about a pretty shitty thing that was happening on MeFi, no pun intended. It still sounds like you're implying that "it's not shitty if no one talks about it."
posted by Nomyte at 10:57 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, real cultural diversity would entail the following canonical answers to be asserted in many AskMe threads alongside "have you considered therapy?" and "DTMFA:"

1) Have you considered prayer?
2) You really need to try to make it work even if he's an asshole because you made vows.
3) Join the military, it's your best hope.
4) Buck up and pull yourself together, you're not a special snowflake and you just need to make more of an effort not to be so focused on your own feelings
5) Eat that thing you left out overnight and be sure to let us know what happens before you pass out
6) There are no interesting places between your town and that other town. Really. None.
7) It's just an animal, it's not worth that much money in vet bills.
8) No, really, you don't need any Apple products. In fact you should buy less stuff.
9) There are no recipes because nobody really eats that stuff
posted by spitbull at 10:58 AM on August 13, 2013 [50 favorites]


It still sounds like you're implying that "it's not shitty if no one talks about it."

I'm not implying that. I'm saying that you have taken two instances which were pretty much MeFi working like MeFi works and coming here using very strong language to call them out as really awful.

If you think people are bringing their prejudices to the table and it's affecting discourse here in a negative way, then by all means bring it up as a thing for folks to talk about. However unless you really think that most people are doing that in bad faith, it's usually more tactical to be less judgmental in how you bring it up because that's the best way to have a discussion about it with the usual assortment of nitpicky anxious nerds (myself included) who populate a lot of these discussions.

It's hard to get called out and harder still if the person calling you out also says you're heartless and dismissive, especially in situations where (speaking for myself personally) you had to escape out from under a pretty bad family life. So, from a "read the room" perspective, that's my helpful advice as a taciturn 1/2-WASP.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:04 AM on August 13, 2013 [33 favorites]


spitbull forgot:

10) You and your partner are abominations and you should go back to your mother before the devil woman eats your soul.

All of the cultural sensitivity in the world won't change the fact that OPs mother appears to be a homophobe who will _never_ except her for who she is. I believe that the answers that OP received reflected that.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


Hell, half the people answering the question seem happy to just flat-out medicalize the differences they see!

If somebody complains that they have dry eyes and sniffly nose every fall, how can they stop going through so many eye drops and tissues? is it out of line to suggest that perhaps they have allergies? The poster describes the mother as being depressed and having had a breakdown in the past. At the very least, the suggestions that the poster seek therapy for working on her own feelings of guilt seem perfectly reasonable, as does the idea of reading about bipolar disorder and using it as a framework toward understanding her mother.
posted by maryr at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Familiarity with the circumstance might make a difference to those who comment. I know lots of aging, empty nest women. The happiest have made their own way. They do not lean on their children for entertainment, but make their own circle of friends. They work if possible, but most are past employment age, so they volunteer, or swim, or exercise. They do something to get out of the house and into some sort of social setting. Several volunteer at a resale shop that supports the local library. Win Win.
posted by Cranberry at 11:08 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not seeing the overall MetaFilter problem here. Perhaps because there is verbiage but not much citation.

I have two suggestions. First, FIAMO for particular comments you think are offensive or inappropriate. If there really is some overwhelming attack on a questioner by the old school intolerant WASPS (of whom I cannot think of one on MetaFilter) going on, then how about pulling together cites before putting up a post on the gray?

To me, this is getting to be like the boy that cried wolf. It's the second MeTa in a fairly short period of time calling out a problem that doesn't seem to really exist.
posted by bearwife at 11:13 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


spitbull, I think you meant those answers to be extreme, but I can think of situations where 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 are not unreasonable answers. Actually, 9 as well, and I don't think I could ever say 7, but I can see why someone would.
posted by maryr at 11:15 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was reading the thread, waiting for the terribly culturally insensitive answers and... maybe I missed something.

Personally I feel it could be construed as culturally insensitive to put manipulative, homophobic and selfish behaviour down to "cultural differences" - are you trying to say that some of the extreme behaviour the OP is clearly distressed by is somehow due to the mother not being American? Why does that even matter? Do "Europeans" (of which I am one) love their families in a different way? Are you suggesting "European" mothers have different expectations of their children, and how exactly are you qualifying that? People were responding to the OP based on the facts she presented, not on some assumed stereotying of foreigners' notions about filial responsibility.

why not join a ladies' social club?
Uh...yeah, why not? Are aging European women not allowed to do that? Incapable of doing that? I really don't understand what point you're making.
posted by billiebee at 11:15 AM on August 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


> If you think people are bringing their prejudices to the table and it's affecting discourse here in a negative way, then by all means bring it up as a thing for folks to talk about.

Well, yes, that's what I'm doing, and that's what MetaTalk is for. I assure you that I'm doing this as a sincere expression of how I feel. If I thought other people are doing it in bad faith, i.e., they are intentionally beating down on women and the poor, then I wouldn't take it to MeTa, I'd just flat-out leave MetaFilter. I realize that a callout is much less effective than a gentle, prolonged education campaign, but MetaFilter in general is pretty poorly equipped to wage these campaigns.

Also, spitbull, (3) and especially (4) come up regularly in response to "I just graduated from college and want a career," and I'm pretty sure that (8) actually is the answer to most things.
posted by Nomyte at 11:17 AM on August 13, 2013


Personally I feel it could be construed as culturally insensitive to put manipulative, homophobic and selfish behaviour down to "cultural differences" - are you trying to say that some of the extreme behaviour the OP is clearly distressed by is somehow due to the mother not being American?

Yeah, for real. To me, it's actually pretty patronizing to essentially say "these things would be terrible in America, but since they're coming from a non-American, I guess they're a-ok!"
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:20 AM on August 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


No I meant those answers are not normally proffered, and to imply reasons why.
posted by spitbull at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2013


The answers in that AskMe thread don't just seem Americentric, they're like some kind of idealized upper-middle New England WASP front: why not join a ladies' social club? why not sit on the board of a local charity nonprofit? why not while away lazy afternoons playing bridge? Hell, half the people answering the question seem happy to just flat-out medicalize the differences they see!

I am still not seeing this in that thread, Nomyte. Can you - without the hyperbolizing - talk more about exactly what advice you find super-culturally insensitive?
posted by rtha at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was only joking, but I don't think "join the military" is a common answer. Nor should it be. Not that it is never said.
posted by spitbull at 11:23 AM on August 13, 2013


"Your parents didn't bother to accumulate a nest egg before retirement? Well, sucks to be them! Feel free to wash your hands of that little matter."

Actually, this was incredibly useful advice for me when dealing with my mom.
posted by sockerpup at 11:24 AM on August 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I thought some of the answers given went too far. For example, "this woman will eat your soul and expect you to cook it for her" seemed a bit much.

However, I think something like 70-80% of the users here live in the U.S. (and most of the rest are in Canada, Australia, and the UK), so "Americentric" answers are to be expected or at least answers reflecting the cultures of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the UK. Moreover, the OP's own specific questions (seen at the bottom of her post) frame the issue in the ways that are then reflected in the answers. The OP was already thinking about "boundaries" with her mother. This wasn't a case of culturally insensitive Americans imposing the idea of boundaries on her without regard for how she thought about family and duty.

Also, much of stridency of the answers likely derives from the OPs description of her mother's homophobia and how emotionally taxing her relationship with her mother has been (it really can be difficult to be someone's only relationship). This wasn't a case of the OP simply finding it annoying to deal with an aging relative. She herself had been significantly rejected and was in real pain.
posted by Area Man at 11:27 AM on August 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Does the Coast Guard count as military?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:32 AM on August 13, 2013 [15 favorites]


I read things in askmeta or meta that I sometimes don't agree with,but for some of those things, it may be best to just give the different in the thread, no? If you truly think that the problem is that the responders have the same cultural background and that is the only voice being heard, then giving the other voice, rationale,and experience may help more than this confrontation that a metatalk may provoke.In other words, Nomyte, why not be the change that you want to see?

Also, even if an answer doesn't answer your own question or the answer that you would write, try to recognize that the answer may help someone else and the people replying are usually trying to be helpful. So volunteering may be a useful suggestion for another person who may or may not have the same cultural background - what is wrong with that?
posted by Wolfster at 11:34 AM on August 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think that unless the answerer is actually a therapist or psychologist or something, answers to human relations questions are necessarily going to be from the answerer's perspective. Very often these are of the form "When this happened to me..." or "Ive seen this before..." or so on. And I think thats actually right. The hope is to get a diversity of such answers and then the asker can decide what makes sense to them.

Of course, depending on the question you will get more or less diversity. Many relationship questions have a huge range of answers (from DTMFA to Actually, You're The Problem to That's No Big Deal and so on). But other questions will reflect any demographic skews on Metafilter, and I don't think there's much that can change that.

Askers always have to sift through the answers to see if they make sense. If someone posts something completely culturally inappropriate, surely the asker would know that and simply disregard the advice. None of this is binding in any way.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:37 AM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


jessamyn: “If you think people are bringing their prejudices to the table and it's affecting discourse here in a negative way, then by all means bring it up as a thing for folks to talk about.”

Nomyte: “Well, yes, that's what I'm doing, and that's what MetaTalk is for.”

In point of fact, you're actually not. You're linking to a thread and saying 'this thread is terrible!' Jessamyn was right to point out the last time you did this; I agreed with you then (and still agree with you) that that thread was terrible, but just posting a Metatalk thread that says 'this thread is terrible!' doesn't actually constitute a cogent callout that we can discuss fruitfully. I might as well say "the front page has too many posts about blue things!" or "Metafilter comments really seem to be coming from a place of privilege these days!" It's not going to help much to complain about those things unless I say why I feel what I feel.

So: which answers in that thread exactly did you think were "presumptuous, heartless, and dismissive of difference"? Why did you think that about them? What exactly are people saying that is so very unfair?

I know this seems like a small thing, but really – the precedent, established over your last two Metatalk posts, is that people generally spend the first hundred or so comments trying to figure out exactly which comments we're talking about here. It would save you and everyone else a whole lot of grief if you pointed directly toward the comments you're talking about. I get the feeling you might be hesitant to point fingers at specific people, and I get that; however, though there are times when it's a good idea to be delicate and avoid specifics, this is not one of them. It would be better to sort of invert your approach – instead of vague annoyance, try more precise but perhaps more measured callouts.

Could you maybe give us three or four comments that you think are egregious? Then at least we could talk about whether we agree that they are "presumptuous, heartless, and dismissive of difference."
posted by koeselitz at 11:37 AM on August 13, 2013 [25 favorites]


Deathalicious: "Wow, good friend in Philly calls her grandma baba & family is Ukranian. I bet your baba knows my friend's baba."

Ey! Is she in the Olney neighborhood?
posted by boo_radley at 11:41 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Actually, in my last comment above, instead of "I agreed with you that that thread is terrible," I might say "I agreed with you that some things people were saying in that thread were kind of terrible." But I guess that's sort of the point.)
posted by koeselitz at 11:42 AM on August 13, 2013


Wow, good friend in Philly calls her grandma baba & family is Ukranian. I bet your baba knows my friend's baba.

All babas are part of an informal but powerful network know as the "BBC" (Баба Бабі Сказала, meaning "Baba told baba") that collects and exchanges information. As we speak there are two babas in Philly talking about why can't boo_radley settle down with someone and have a kid, like that nice Deathalicious fellow. You think the NSA is bad...
posted by Kabanos at 11:55 AM on August 13, 2013 [66 favorites]


I feel like Metafilter has a strong emphasis on how your current chosen family is the priority, "family of origin" less important (and that sometimes it's appropriate to cut them off) and sometimes I'm instinctually confused by that because coming from the perspective of a kid of immigrants from India, I was always raised to believe family is always important and you're always your parents' kid...

that said, my parents are not emotionally/physically abusive/do not make life hard for me in the ways that a lot of Askers who bring these family issues seem to face. So I take it as face value that people have more experience in this area than I do and I don't usually have much input in those conversations.

An interesting flip side is questions when the Asker has Indian parents, like the recent interracial dating question, where I kept trying to assert that all Indian families are created differently and maybe the Asker's parents would ultimately be OK with it, and a lot of non Indians were so super confident that the Asker's parents were going to disown him and be assholes.

I wish that kind of stuff...I wish it would stop.
posted by sweetkid at 11:58 AM on August 13, 2013 [28 favorites]


> I am still not seeing this in that thread, Nomyte. Can you - without the hyperbolizing - talk more about exactly what advice you find super-culturally insensitive?

Today, but also historically, many immigrant communities are predominantly working-class and use extended families as the organizing mechanism that structures people's interactions. These communities may not offer many social outlets to the elderly, or, in fact, much in the way of civic life outside the family, or possibly the church. Assuming that OP's mother has access to these resources is an examle of unexamined privilege.

I understand that the OP is in a very difficult situation that doesn't leave her with a lot of win-win options. Where I see a big cultural disconnect is the common element in many of the responses to the effect of saying that OP's mother brought this on herself and has wilfully created this situation where she and her daughter, the OP, now find themselves.

This essentially ignores the very real possibility that OP's mother is trapped in a social structure that doesn't leave many options for her as an elderly woman, and she may not have the resources to overturn that structure single-handedly.

She may not have many, or any social resources or outlets, unless her community provides them — and many do not. OP's mother may have a circle of acquaintances, but in many cases they are just a social convenience that is secondary to one's family, and it sounds like OP's mother's acquaintances are just reinforcing her cultural expectations.

OP mentions that her mother is "shy and withdrawn" and has had difficulty with English. Many adult immigrants fail to master English, for reasons largely outside their control. Socializing in a language she has trouble with could be frustrating and actively unpleasant for OP's mother, especially as someone "extremely well educated." Many highly educated immigrants find themselves in menial occupations in their new home country, because their credentials or experience may not carry weight. This is a big blow that many don't recover from, for both personal and practical reasons. The experience of accompanying and translating for one's parents is also extremely commonplace in many immigrant communities. All these things have definitely come up often when I've spoken to children of immigrant parents, even here on MeFi.

Given the OP's evidence, it's entirely possible that her mother is facing a late-life crisis. She seems to be acrimoniously divorced, socially isolated, and nothing mentioned in the way of socially supportive nearby family. To then say that, unless OP's mother can overhaul this entire paradigm by herself, that OP should just sever ties, seems to be completely ignorant of how immigrant communities often cope.
posted by Nomyte at 12:03 PM on August 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


Ukrainians in Philly are not so likely to be Orthodox, just saying. Most will be Catholic (Byzantine Rite)

I know the military is suggested once in a while. I'm sure prayer is too. My simple joking point is that one wouldn't come to AskMe with any prior experiencing expecting such suggestions to be common or consensual. Both would be if you asked some folks I know in rural Arkansas or Alaska. In fact there are plenty of extant "cultural" worlds in which one could not detach oneself from material support for an elder parent, or from a spouse. We could debate all day whether and how such "cultural" constructions of personal liberty and obligation were oppressive or not (many surely are). But there are people who find the bourgeois, rationalist, individualistic common sense that prevails here oppressive too.

"Cultures" aren't simple boxes either.
posted by spitbull at 12:13 PM on August 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


She seems to be acrimoniously divorced, socially isolated, and nothing mentioned in the way of socially supportive nearby family. To then say that, unless OP's mother can overhaul this entire paradigm by herself, that OP should just sever ties, seems to be completely ignorant of how immigrant communities often cope.

Immigrant or not, there are just some people who are unpleasant human beings. I had an elderly great aunt who lived alone in the house she grew up in, said nothing but horrible things about the relatives who tried to help her, and refused to join any of the groups available to her. Sometimes people bring their plight on themselves, and there's not much we can do about that. People are who they are, this has nothing to do with how immigrants cope.

On preview: "Cultures" aren't simple boxes either. Amen!
posted by sockerpup at 12:15 PM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nomyte: “To then say that, unless OP's mother can overhaul this entire paradigm by herself, that OP should just sever ties, seems to be completely ignorant of how immigrant communities often cope.”

I feel like we're reading completely different threads here. As far as I can tell, nobody there has suggested simply severing ties summarily. In fact, nobody's even really discussed severing ties at all. I will say that jenfullmoon's response not only takes into account all the things you're discussing here but actually gives a better and more thoughtful and well-rounded response than to this problem I think I've seen anywhere. So, again – why are you upset at that thread, and at the diversity of answers from different perspectives? There seems to be the same typical wealth of really thoughtful and helpful stuff in that thread.
posted by koeselitz at 12:16 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


If the OP wanted culture-specific advice, perhaps the OP would have asked for it, or at least revealed what specific culture is being addressed.

All I can glean from the question is that it's European, non-Anglophone, possibly Christian, and living in the US.

The OP is asking for pegs without describing the hole. What's it to you if most of the pegs offered are square?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:19 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nomyte: "you know, actually deep and meaningful cultural differences, like the personal meaning of "family," and "filial responsibility," and "aging." The answers in that AskMe thread don't just seem Americentric, they're like some kind of idealized upper-middle New England WASP front: why not join a ladies' social club? why not sit on the board of a local charity nonprofit? why not while away lazy afternoons playing bridge? Hell, half the people answering the question seem happy to just flat-out medicalize the differences they see!

Most people would agree that interacting with and caring for aging parents can be a source of difficulty. But I'm not sure the answers have any reason to be so presumptuous, heartless, and dismissive of difference. Or maybe MeFi can start looking forward to more snappy answers to eldercare questions?
"

I'm sorry, but this is sort of a presumptuous and dismissive attitude too. Eldercare? For all we know, the mother is only 60! The situation as described isn't "my mother got needy in her old age and it's annoying," Anonymous describes her mother as having longtime issues with emotional stability and depression. Anonymous has helped her find a therapist and encouraged her to consider medication. So it's not the responses which medicalized the situation.

And the personal meaning of "family" is rather complicated by the mother's hostility regarding her adult daughter's partner. That is also a "difference" of which to be respectful.
posted by desuetude at 12:21 PM on August 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


nomyte, I think that with a few changes to direct it at the asker, your recent comment would probably stand as an answer to the question you linked. Sharing one's own, legitimate perspective on the asker's question, even if it goes against what one perceives as the drift of the thread, is part of what makes AskMe a valuable resource for people.
posted by gauche at 12:21 PM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]



On preview: "Cultures" aren't simple boxes either. Amen!


Nope nope nope we can all do well to remember this.
posted by sweetkid at 12:25 PM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Should people have told the OP to move back to the city in which her mother lives, move in with mom, find a nice boy to marry from their country of origin, and then raise the kids with mom in the house. Is the OP obligated to conform with a particular notion of how immigrant communities typically function?

Also, I don't think we know whether the OP's mom is a working-class immigrant. Certainly, some very educated immigrants can't use their degrees or professional certifications (I've certainly known some ex-doctors from the former Soviet Union). However, many highly educated European immigrants are not actually working class.

The people mentioning other outlets for the mother were hoping that such outlets could relieve some of the burden on the daughter. Saying that such a thing is impossible and that it is inevitable that the OP will be the mother's only significant relationship does not seem like it would actually be helpful advice.
posted by Area Man at 12:28 PM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oy. Okay -- I know the anonymous poster who asked this question. In fact, I suggested that she bring her problem here. At first, it did not pass moderation because it was way too long. It included more details about her mother, such as that she has an advanced degree and speaks six languages. "Anon" feels at the moment like she misstated her mother's relationship to English or something

If it eases your mind any, Nomyte, "Mary" is not quite elderly. She is employed as a professional. She is a homeowner in the most expensive city in the US, where she also owns a car. Though she is a US citizen, she identifies as a member of her country of origin, which is a place like England or France, not China or India.
posted by houseofdanie at 12:30 PM on August 13, 2013 [45 favorites]


Hell, half the people answering the question seem happy to just flat-out medicalize the differences they see!


I think people call out "Borderline Personality Disorder" on Metafilter WAY more than they should, especially for women.
posted by sweetkid at 12:37 PM on August 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


The OP also said Her friends are all European and have a different idea of what are appropriate parent-child bonds,, which makes the " Socializing in a language she has trouble with could be frustrating and actively unpleasant for OP's mother," a presumption you are making.
posted by rtha at 12:40 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nomyte: This essentially ignores the very real possibility that OP's mother is trapped in a social structure that doesn't leave many options for her as an elderly woman, and she may not have the resources to overturn that structure single-handedly.

Look, in order to fruitfully answer almost any AskMe, we are going to have to make some assumptions, many of which will ignore all sorts of very real possibilities. BTW: the OP's mother could be a cat.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:55 PM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


If it eases your mind any, Nomyte, "Mary" is not quite elderly. She is employed as a professional. She is a homeowner in the most expensive city in the US, where she also owns a car. Though she is a US citizen, she identifies as a member of her country of origin, which is a place like England or France, not China or India.

Thank you for this clarification, and I apologize for having made it seem necessary.
posted by Nomyte at 12:56 PM on August 13, 2013


Does the Coast Guard count as military?

Absolutely. The Salvation Army does not.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:58 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saw the post and thought at least some of the issue was gonna be with the Tough Love.

Mine is a minority view, I know, but to me some people are far too cold and harsh -- to people who are wrestling with extremely difficult, complex and painful situations.
posted by ambient2 at 1:00 PM on August 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


The Salvation Army does not.

KISS Army is still in adjudication.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:01 PM on August 13, 2013 [23 favorites]


Does the Coast Guard count as military?

Not if you ask people in the military.
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:02 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does the Coast Guard count as military?

Not if you ask people in the military.


You just broke my brain.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:06 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


$10 to anyone who whips up a .gif of a cartoon pooch wearing a MeFi t-shirt and a hangdog expression captioned I'M SO VEWY SOWWY that I can link to next time there's a MeTa that has an opening line like this one.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:07 PM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


4) Buck up and pull yourself together, you're not a special snowflake and you just need to make more of an effort not to be so focused on your own feelings

I was once given this advice by a psychologist and it was some of the best advice I've ever received. He really seemed annoyed by me and my mid-20s self-absorption, which for some reason made it easier for me to get what he was saying.
posted by Area Man at 1:07 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


KISS Army is still in adjudication.

What about The Army of Lovers?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:08 PM on August 13, 2013


What about The Army of Lovers?

Their videos have to count for something.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:09 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nobody messes with the Robot Skeleton Army.
posted by kmz at 1:18 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alvy, do I get anything for this?
posted by maryr at 1:19 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm curious why some of this relevant information like the Asker's mom being a professional etc didn't pass mod muster because it was "too long."
posted by sweetkid at 1:21 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I want to like this because I often think that AskMe relationship answers are just unbelievably cold. However, it is completely weird that cranberry's meager suggestion that she could "join an anything club or volunteer" is somehow transformed by your mind into "why not join a ladies' social club? why not sit on the board of a local charity nonprofit? why not while away lazy afternoons playing bridge?" and that joining a club or volunteering is a supposedly hyper-specific cultural signifier of northeast Anglo-Saxon heritage.
posted by Winnemac at 1:24 PM on August 13, 2013 [40 favorites]


I'm curious why some of this relevant information like the Asker's mom being a professional etc didn't pass mod muster because it was "too long."

I doubt it was the relevant information itself that didn't pass muster for length. I suspect the original post itself didn't pass muster for length, and in editing it down the OP excised some details that turned out to be relevant.
posted by scody at 1:26 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


More clarification: the original post was about twice as long, with many more details about the entire situation, not just the mother's education and profession. In the interest of space, "Anon" removed a lot of things.
posted by houseofdanie at 1:28 PM on August 13, 2013


I'm curious why some of this relevant information like the Asker's mom being a professional etc didn't pass mod muster because it was "too long."

The OP edited the question themselves and made their own choices about what to excise. My email to them when they inquired why it wasn't approved read as follows, in full

"Hey there -- we weren't going to approve that question. It seemed like it was sort of a processing exercise without a clear question. I'll send it to you. Do you think you could make it at least 50% shorter and have a more concrete question at the end of it? Here is your question."

The question they sent back was about 30% shorter which I figured was good enough
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:29 PM on August 13, 2013


I'm curious why some of this relevant information like the Asker's mom being a professional etc didn't pass mod muster because it was "too long."

There are diminishing returns on what's practical to expect people to read in a question; sometimes folks (especially, but not exclusively, those in distress or crisis or just sort of at their wits end with a situation and/or folks not overly familiar with the practical experience of effective posting on Ask) will push on a lot farther than that practical limit and basically write a book, or include a great deal of sort of "and here's another thing" backstory or details that while in an investigative sense could be potentially useful to someone end up being more of a bulwark against sustained attention by even the most patient and well-meaning of Ask Metafilter readers/answerers.

So we have to tell folks to regroup and trim down sometimes. This is a case where the question as posted, post-rewrite, is still quite long, and that's okay but that should put into perspective where these issues come into play. It's not "info x isn't important", it's "this is too long overall, please trim it down."

There's a tension between the goal of including every possible bit of info in case it might be relevant and the practical approach of just getting the core question across and following up reasonably promptly (generally via the mods, in the case of anonymous questions) with clarifying/additional info in the thread as necessary.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:29 PM on August 13, 2013


Gahhh. Except for the same-sex partner, "Lily" could be ME. (Though honestly, given the guff she gave and continues to give us, my husband might as well have come out to MIL as told her we eloped!) It is incredibly frustrating to be used as your parent's crutch. It causes untold pain for the child and his/her partner. I like to say that I don't hate my MIL, but I do hate what she does to my husband. It has taken us years to develop strategies to cope with her nonsense.

The OP does not come off to me as some kind of parent-hating monster, but someone who needs to learn how to manage her mother's behavior. And unless I've really missed something, the responses were both trying to help in that direction AND provide insight into why some options may work better than others. OP (and answer-ers) aren't trying to lock this woman in an institution, they're trying to make a continuing bad situation better. I for one wish OP the best, she's got a hard row ahead and it won't be easy to implement what she needs to do in order to ameliorate her mother's behavior.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:30 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm just happy there is someone else in August already dreading the drama of Christmas with the extended family.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:32 PM on August 13, 2013 [25 favorites]


Amusingly, when I asked an AskMe question about things I can do for my own immigrant mother, I got much more traditional answers, including "are you close to having kids," "can she come live with you," and "would she be happier if she went back to her own country."
posted by Nomyte at 1:39 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's almost like different questions with different problems will garner different answers even though some details might be the same.
posted by nadawi at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2013 [49 favorites]


i mean, your question was "how do i help my mother" and their question was "how do i create boundaries with my mom and not fall into a guilt spiral about it." it would be weird if the responses were similar.
posted by nadawi at 1:48 PM on August 13, 2013 [18 favorites]


Amusingly, when I asked an AskMe question about things I can do for my own immigrant mother, I got much more traditional answers

Yeah, but in your question you also said, "My mother is a stoic and makes absolutely no demands on me." Seems quite a bit different than the AskMe question on the table now.
posted by JanetLand at 1:48 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think your mother should join the Coast Guard. And pray a lot.
posted by spitbull at 1:48 PM on August 13, 2013 [27 favorites]


That question is very, very long. When someone has spent that long writing it, it has become an act of therapy in itself and... I almost wonder if just reading it is a more positive contribution than trying to work through it all and give a conflicting or unwanted answer.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:48 PM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm just happy there is someone else in August already dreading the drama of Christmas with the extended family.

I love the holidays, I really do.

On Thanksgiving I wake up, watch The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and then about two pm I roll over to the Indian restaurant for a big batch of food accompanied by a mattress-sized stack of naan. Then I go back home and take a long nap.

It is a glorious day and I recommend it most heartily over going to a house full of hostile, loud, annoying strangers who like to scream at each other. Pretend you have to work - that was my excuse for nearly twenty years.
posted by winna at 1:49 PM on August 13, 2013 [17 favorites]


That may be because people were responding to your specific question, as they were doing for this OP. It struck me that you were thinking a lot more about what might be going on for the mother than her daughter. If the point of AskMe is to be helpful, I'm not sure how helpful it is to ignore the main issue presented - in this case a problem managing boundaries with a difficult parent - in order to focus on what may or may not be going on culturally for said parent. The fact that you got more traditional answers kind of proves that there isn't a standard reply to anyone who mentions cultural difference, it depends on the OP's circumstances. Doesn't that mean its all working?

With all due respect, and as gently as possible, it seems like it struck a raw personal nerve with you. In those cases, maybe it's better not to read too much into strangers' intentions.
posted by billiebee at 1:51 PM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I guess I don't understand why any perceived imbalance couldn't have been addressed with a supportive answer that took these other options into account.
posted by batmonkey at 1:52 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think your mother should join the Coast Guard. And pray a lot.

Your mother should band together with other women in her situation and raise a regiment for the KISS Army.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:54 PM on August 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think people call out "Borderline Personality Disorder" on Metafilter WAY more than they should, especially for women.

Oh hells yes. Not just BPD; I think some people are just generally way too ready to assign psychiatric diagnoses based on a few lines of description.

Hey, Internet Not-Actually-Doctors: not every faux pas is a sign of Aspergers or social anxiety; not every mood shift is a sign of bipolar disorder; not every disorganized person has ADD, nor does hyperorganization automatically imply OCD; and while we're on the subject I would be very pleased if you would stop saying "limerence" when you mean "crush"

on the other hand, you're right about the clinical depression, we all do seem to have that
posted by ook at 1:55 PM on August 13, 2013 [37 favorites]


To be fair, mental health issues are hugely prevalent, so many "non-doctors" have direct experience of being diagnosed with/living with/being raised by someone with one of the conditions you mention.
posted by billiebee at 1:59 PM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


but yes with the limerence thing
posted by billiebee at 2:01 PM on August 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think people could respond with "I have family experiences much like that and this is how I have handled it " rather than "I have family experiences much like that and I think that family member has undiagnosed BPD and I am pretty sure your mom has it too so just get away from this person because that's all you can do with undiagnosed BPD"

I mean I feel for that situation but...if you don't hear about mental illness tread lightly when suggesting it.
posted by sweetkid at 2:02 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


on the other hand, you're right about the clinical depression, we all do seem to have that

Wait, so us non-doctors can continue to diagnose people, we just need a different go-to diagnosis?
posted by Area Man at 2:04 PM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Diagnosing by non doctors was how we lost some cool actual doctors/social workers from the site and I think it's a not great idea.
posted by sweetkid at 2:05 PM on August 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


i have no idea what my mom's last diagnosis was, and i know she's been through a few, also to my knowledge it's been 15+ years since she's been to therapy and she never took her meds after she left the mental institution. but, even without knowing her specific diagnosis (or her actually having one, i guess), i do find it helpful to read up on the ones that seem most likely (and read things by kids raised in similar sounding households). if i hadn't known about my mom's therapy stints or about her being committed and i asked metafilter a question about her behavior, i think i'd find it helpful for people to say "my mom did similar things and when she was diagnosed with ______ it all made sense - here's how i coped with her before she found treatment."
posted by nadawi at 2:06 PM on August 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


In my experience New England WASPs don't have bridge clubs, they have garden clubs. I know--let's put the OP's mother on OKCupid. What could go wrong?
posted by Ideefixe at 2:08 PM on August 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


those cool actual doctors and social workers left on their own accord. they hold the responsibility for that. metafilter will continue to have questions about health and the law and all the other areas where some people feel only professionals can answer (even though they all say that as professionals they can't answer - so they're mostly saying "don't talk about this here") and some people will feel like if it's asked in a public forum, the asker is expecting a public answer and not a professional opinion. i think it's up to each individual person to decide on their own participation here understanding that's the way it's going to be.
posted by nadawi at 2:09 PM on August 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Diagnosing by non doctors was how we lost some cool actual doctors/social workers from the site and I think it's a not great idea.

In both cases that I think you are referring to there were actually much more serious issues going on than "I don't like to read about people giving diagnoses on the internet when I am a trained professional." We can't actually run this site as if it's more important to keep some members than others. Everyone has to make their own decisions about whether to engage here or not. We can try to move the "What is acceptable normative behavior here?" arrow a little more towards one side or the other, but if people are doing things that most people find acceptable and some people just can't stand, there is a small set of options to work with. It's one of the (many) ways that real life interactions and MeFi interactions are different but can feel the same.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:11 PM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't really mean it that way - that we should behave in a certain way to keep certain members. I just wanted to make that clear. I just think people should tread more carefully, more 'I'm not saying this is the case but my family member was diagnosed with x and then things made sense" like nadawi said, rather than "Sounds like classic BPD to me!"
posted by sweetkid at 2:13 PM on August 13, 2013


A last remark. My post wasn't specifically limited to the single question I linked to. If I find a specific answer inappropriate, I flag it. If I find a question inappropriate, I flag it or ping the modes by email. That is very simple. The only reason I post to MeTa is that I think there is an underlying issue that otherwise well-intentioned people don't seem to be taking into consideration, and it's difficult to talk about it. It makes no sense to flag things or alert the mods in this case.
posted by Nomyte at 2:15 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nomyte: The only reason I post to MeTa is that I think there is an underlying issue that otherwise well-intentioned people don't seem to be taking into consideration, and it's difficult to talk about it.

I think the aggressive and accusatory tone you have taken in this MeTa and the previous one mentioned above make these underlying issues -- which I agree with you about to some extent, in this case at least -- even harder to talk about, as people are instantly put on the defensive.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:23 PM on August 13, 2013 [30 favorites]


Yeah, that, basically. I think there's a couple things here that are a disconnect with what it sounds like you were aiming for vs. how this post came off:

1. If you're talking about a general site issue rather than about a specific thread/comment/event, that's an okay thing to do but at that point it can be sort of counter-productive to link to a specific example; folks will, as they did here, want to understand in more detail what the basis for your complaint about the example is, so if it turns out that that's not really what you want to talk about it's a frustrating experience for everyone involved.

2. It's basically never going to make things better to come out swinging. Better than the rhetorically aggressive framing here and the "presumptuous, heartless, and dismissive" stuff and the sarcastic questions at the end would be a straightforward "hey, here's some things I feel like keep happening on the site, and here's why I think they're problematic" sort of description that's more about outlining what you see as a problem than about getting in people's collective faces.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:36 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


The answers in that AskMe thread don't just seem Americentric, they're like some kind of idealized upper-middle New England WASP front: why not join a ladies' social club? why not sit on the board of a local charity nonprofit? why not while away lazy afternoons playing bridge? Hell, half the people answering the question seem happy to just flat-out medicalize the differences they see!

I think this is a terrible complaint. Totally misguided from the jump.

The poster asked for advice. Not "culturally sensitive" advice, but advice. People gave advice in a friendly and helpful manner, trying to state their actual opinions about how to handle the situation. The poster did not say "how can I resolve this situation in a way that's authentic to my (unstated) background?" People simply stated their opinions. If she wanted opinions exclusively reflective of her parents' country of origin, she wouldn't have directed them at a bunch of (probably mostly) Americans.

If you think this is so wrong, then please explain what damage was done by not observing your personal notion of cultural sensitivity. She is free to reject the advice. Her original culture was not insulted. People were genuinely trying to help and advise. She's dealing with a very stressful and serious issue, and most of the people seemed to be focused on that, although fortunately at least one person was concerned about whether the advice was culturally sensitive enough. Strangely enough, it doesn't seem like that person was the actual poster, who didn't seem to object to this advice. And honestly, if she did, I'd have to wonder why she would ask a bunch of Americans for how to relate to a culture that she doesn't even specifically name! Hello! What culture are we insulting? The big non-American one?

And what's with this WASP New England bullshit? I guess I must come from this world you refer to, since my advice would be in line with others in the thread. And what is so bad about this world? Sure, it's not some super-authentic non-American culture that values family more than vapid materialism, but they seem to enjoy their polo matches. Where is your damn cultural sensitivity?

Again, not to mince words, but this post is dead terrible. It's also a great example of the worst kind of liberalism that attacks anything around it that seems insufficiently liberal. For what it's worth, that is something that mefi is sometimes quite good at.
posted by Edgewise at 2:45 PM on August 13, 2013 [32 favorites]


This MeTa disappointed and frustrated me more than that AskMe.

Because if I don't like how an AskMe is going, I can give the answer I'd like to see.

This MeTa... nothing to do but wait for it to get tired of chasing its own tail.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:00 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


i think i'd find it helpful for people to say "my mom did similar things and when she was diagnosed with ______ it all made sense - here's how i coped with her before she found treatment

I don't mean to imply that only Real Life Doctors should be allowed to use those words or even that all Internet Diagnoses are automatically baseless; it's just the subset of people who seem way to willing to assign highly specific clinical labels based on not much evidence at all that leave me gritting my teeth and accidentally derailing metatalk threads. (sorry about that.)

Wait, so us non-doctors can continue to diagnose people, we just need a different go-to diagnosis?

Yes, but only if you are totally joking in small type or hamburger.
posted by ook at 3:08 PM on August 13, 2013


Again, not to mince words, but this post is dead terrible. It's also a great example of the worst kind of liberalism that attacks anything around it that seems insufficiently liberal. For what it's worth, that is something that mefi is sometimes quite good at.

How is this MeTa attacking things that aren't liberal enough?
posted by sweetkid at 3:13 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, Nomyte, I think you really are going to have to be much more specific here about what you thought was so problematic about those answers and which answers specifically you were talking about. I recognize that you're probably trying not to call out specific comments or commenters, but the flip side is that otherwise a lot of people are going to just feel sort of generally attacked without really understanding why. For instance, I agree with you that a lot of elder immigrants may feel extremely isolated in their personal and professional lives and that this is a legitimate crisis, but I don't understand how this means that the answers given are inappropriate, especially since few of them talk about cutting off the mother entirely and a lot of them seem to imply that the relationship is indeed salvageable.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:13 PM on August 13, 2013


Nomyte, I feel like your concern is focused much around how people and cultures treat aging/elderly relatives. And yet nothing about the OP's post suggests that mom is elderly. OP is in her late 30s. So am I, and my mom isn't even 60 yet and in great health, so eldercare didn't even cross my mind in reading the thread. Sure, it's possible OP's mom is aging/physically unwell/elderly, but that doesn't seem to be the focus of the OP's concern, nor did the answers seem to be referring to leaving an elderly parent on the street to fend for herself.
posted by dayintoday at 3:31 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm with the some of the others that I'm not clear on what the Meta issue is here or why it's even an issue, but damn that question (other than a few details) is absolutely my relationship with my mother. Also I've never heard of BPD until now and while I'm against armchair/internet psychology diagnosis, I may now have a path to deal with the madness that I have unsuccessfully been able to extricate myself from.

So thanks. I guess.
posted by Big_B at 3:40 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


On more than one occasion, someone has shared experience with a family member or loved one with NPD/BPD/cholera/what-have-you, and even though a person in my life might not carry an actual diagnosis (or even share every trait), there have been enough similarities in situations for me to benefit from lived wisdom. Yes, there are a few favored diagnoses that float around here from time to time, but the, "Here's what happened in my life and here's how it got better" bits are invaluable to me.
posted by houseofdanie at 3:48 PM on August 13, 2013


How is this MeTa attacking things that aren't liberal enough?

Can't speak for the original commenter, but I'd say it is because of the reference to bad answers being 'Americentric, they're like some kind of idealized upper-middle New England WASP front'. e.g lack of multicultural perspective.
posted by jacalata at 4:25 PM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


The answers in that AskMe thread don't just seem Americentric, they're like some kind of idealized upper-middle New England WASP front: why not join a ladies' social club? why not sit on the board of a local charity nonprofit? why not while away lazy afternoons playing bridge?

An important lady in my life has done all of these things, including the bridge thing, and she's nowhere near New England (or Protestant, though that might only be because she likes pomp and circumstance more.) To be honest, it's been great and they've given her a lot of outlets for her underutilized professional skills and also helped her through some difficult physical recovery periods. Like I think bridge is kind of hilarious and I make little Agatha Christie jokes at her all the time but hey, she doesn't get why I like rugby so I think we're even. I don't often respond to parent questions, probably because I don't have a lot of success understanding my own (loved) parents, but to have what seem to me to be very normal, standard things like book clubs or volunteer work be attacked as bad answers or "let them eat cake" answers does make me a little defensive and on edge, yeah.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:29 PM on August 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I just think people should tread more carefully, more 'I'm not saying this is the case but my family member was diagnosed with x and then things made sense" like nadawi said, rather than "Sounds like classic BPD to me!"

Ideally, yes. And while I hear you, and also understand in a way why this MeTa was posted, I think it's presumptuous to be outraged or upset on an AskMe poster's behalf. When you ask internet strangers for advice, it is often a complete crapshoot, and given how AskMe discourages threadsitting, there isn't a reliable way to know how the OP is reacting to the responses to her question.
posted by peripathetic at 5:21 PM on August 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just to be clear I posted what you quoted above peripathetic but did not post this MeTa.
posted by sweetkid at 5:38 PM on August 13, 2013


Assuming that OP's mother has access to these resources is an examle of unexamined privilege.

Good grief. You are applying a narrative of how you believe the world to be, to a specific issue in Ask. That is not going to work a lot of the time. Why are you assuming that the OP's mother couldn't join a club, play bridge, or rock preemies? Have you examined your own assumptions that led to this comment? Perhaps the OP's mom can do these things. And if she can't for whatever reason, then the OP won't consider it. That is a feature of Ask. That is how it works.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:42 PM on August 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


Just to be clear I posted what you quoted above peripathetic but did not post this MeTa.

Yes, I got that. Sorry that I didn't make it clearer--I was linking your quote to Nomyte's MeTa, in that you both (and others, I'm sure) wish people would respond better on AskMe.
posted by peripathetic at 6:54 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I understand why people have issues with the MeTa but I don't get why y'all are like SO angry with Nomyte about this...
posted by sweetkid at 7:32 PM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think the tone of the thread was set by Nomyte. When you lead off with angry, broad brush accusations, the reponse is likely to be heated.
posted by Area Man at 7:53 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


How were psychiatric problems diagnosed before the Internet, anyway?
posted by thelonius at 7:58 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well I don't think not shaking with your left hand is an inconsequential social convention. As a lefty I really feel that it's discrimination.
posted by sweetkid at 8:03 PM on August 13, 2013


Should I start alternating hands? If so, does 50/50 make sense or should it be based on the percentage of lefties in the population?

My daughter has trouble at dance because they often start off on the right foot.
posted by Area Man at 8:07 PM on August 13, 2013


Yea it's all about righties man. Whole damn world.
posted by sweetkid at 8:09 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


How were psychiatric problems diagnosed before the Internet, anyway?

Magic 8-Ball.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:11 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fucking rightie privilege I tell you what.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:11 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Left handed high five !
posted by sweetkid at 8:17 PM on August 13, 2013


I understand why people have issues with the MeTa but I don't get why y'all are like SO angry with Nomyte about this...

It probably has something to do with the framing. I think people feel a bit stung when the group they are inevitably part of is accused of something bad, or when they feel lumped into a group that is the cause of someone else's disappointment.

It seems to me to be easy to understand if you consider, as spitbull pointed out, that "'Cultures' aren't simple boxes either." Likewise, site culture isn't a simple box, so when someone starts off with "Jesus, MeFi, you were doing so well, and then… this," or someone else suggests that people who have issues with the Meta "are like SO angry with Nomyte about this," it seems as if the individual user reading the comment has been wedged into a group of people being painted in a certain way for a certain effect.

I have a feeling very few people are actually angry, and when I read the comments in this thread again, they seem even less to lead to that conclusion. But I know I'm seeing things from my angle, through my lens, with my appreciation of the site and its cultures and my perspective on who is saying what.

For me, telling someone they're so angry is something my dad did to my mom a lot, and it would drive her up the wall. I felt the same way she did, like he knew what button to push to get her to prove him right, and it really rankled me to hear it. It's entirely possible, sweetkid, that my reaction to your comment is almost totally a reaction to that feeling I would get on behalf of my mother in those situations. I don't know if I can or if I want to extricate that information from my reaction, but I can certainly acknowledge it. I'm likely defending against an unintended or nonexistent tactic.

I hope you understand that I'm not trying to criticize anyone here. I, too, am looking for answers, and in doing so, as is so often the case, I uncover more truth about myself than I do about anyone else. I don't think anyone's at fault, and I think we agree that everyone could get by with a little more patience.

Also, my nephew's a lefty and he's the coolest.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:20 PM on August 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, my nephew's a lefty and he's the coolest.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:20 PM on August 13


eponynephewsterical
posted by scody at 8:29 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a lentil under my futon.
posted by y2karl at 8:37 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've got blisters on my fingers
posted by scody at 8:43 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


It would be one thing if the OP had said "my mother is a poor elderly woman from Impoverishedstan" and the answers were of the type: "she just needs to rent a yacht and some oil-soaked cabana boys for a few days."

But that's not what happened.

What did happen was that a person posted a question that lacked culture and age context, so the responders applied their own experience and bias. I guess that you could start assigning blame at people for not taking into account the possibility that the OP's mother may be from a more family centric culture, but why? Because she may read a "rich person" suggestion and feel bad that she isn't rich enough to take the advice? Because she may be offended at the idea of reducing contact with her mother? (I don't mean that in a snarky way. I literally wonder what negative consequence people think would befall OP as a result of the given advice.)

Here's the thing, I'm all for empathy in AskMeFi. As a matter of fact, I think that many times it's lacking. However, if a poster doesn't provide context, assumptions need to be made to answer the question. "WASPy" answers are answers. They aren’t offensive or condescending (in this particular case, and in my opinion) and may actually be helpful. The poster and her mother may well be WASPs for all we know. Sure, it would have been nice if people with other cultural perspectives had chimed in, but AskMeFi questions are often answered by a grab bag of responders, especially if the OP doesn't semi-filter the type of responders their question attracts by including cultural context.
posted by Shouraku at 8:59 PM on August 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I really think this callout should have been about the kneejerk BPD diagnoses in that question. Please, stop with the armchair psych diagnoses, it's about as useful and honest as Bill Frist diagnosing Terry Schiavo on the senate floor.
posted by aspo at 9:13 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems that lately there's been a spate of MetaTalk posts just saying "I don't like most of the answers to this AskMe question."
posted by John Cohen at 9:20 PM on August 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Nobody diagnosed anyone. A few people said the mother's behavior reminded them of borderline personality disorder, as a way of directing the poster toward potentially helpful resources.
posted by jaguar at 9:25 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"i don't like the answers other people gave" is a great reason to write your own answer, but it's not a good reason to chastise everyone else because they don't conform to your expectations.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:59 PM on August 13, 2013 [21 favorites]


Nomyte, you appear to be reading that thread through a filter that few other people share, and your assertion that the rest of us are well-meaning but essentially blind to what you think are facts is counterproductive to your argument. Why do YOUR remarks on this topic have to be, as you put it, so presumptuous, heartless, and dismissive of difference?

That being said, thanks for asking the question. It gave me something to think about. I came to the conclusion that I disagree with you and my personal filter doesn't cast that thread in the same light as yours, but I'd be interested to know why you are having such a strong response to it and why you felt compelled to make this MeTa (aside from just believing everybody is wrong because that's not a very fulfilling reason for anybody, not even you).
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:13 PM on August 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nomyte: "Amusingly, when I asked an AskMe question about things I can do for my own immigrant mother, I got much more traditional answers, including "are you close to having kids," "can she come live with you," and "would she be happier if she went back to her own country.""

I kind of wish the green could occasionally murmur "if you didn't write this question, it's not about you" while we're all reading it. This question wasn't about your immigrant mother, but maybe this MeTa was maybe a little about the responses you got to your question? Your experience with an immigrant mother is valuably relevant to this anonymous OP, but only if you can focus on what she's actually asking.

Sorry, I don't mean this as a call-out of just you personally -- it's a fuzzy line and very tempting to let sympathy/empathy cross over a line into projecting, and I think most of us who participate on the green have done it. But man, it's no fun at all to be on the other side and carefully include the particulars then get a bunch of answers that seem to be about some other situation entirely.
posted by desuetude at 10:39 PM on August 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


(aside from just believing everybody is wrong because that's not a very fulfilling reason for anybody, not even you)

I don't even know whether to take this as a compliment.
posted by Nomyte at 10:56 PM on August 13, 2013


Nomyte, you seem to have trouble with AskMe questions generally lately. I'm not really sure that castigating people for having a different view of the situation than you do, especially when many of the answers are specifically grounded in personal experience, is a helpful way to discuss your concerns with the community here.

I have a couple things to say about this because i've almost made a MeTa several times because of exactly that. I've definitely written comments that were along the lines of "Hey, sit down and think for a minute where you're coming at this discussion from" because i don't have the best track record with MeTa's and generally want to keep my hobbyhorses in the garage.

Metafilter definitely has a huge problem with "lived experiences" being used as evidence for how people on here like, totally know How It Be™. Sometimes this gets so egregious that it spawns a MeTa.

I'm not seeing that much in the thread being discussed here, but Nomyte is not barking up a tree that doesn't exist here, i think this one just looked a bit too similar to the right tree.

The fact that they clarified later they weren't just talking about one thread reveals that, and i kinda wish Nomyte could jump in a delorean and restart the thread with a broader scope. Because although it was just hammered on in the diaper thread, that was on a fairly narrow scope as well.

"Well in my experience with XYZ" is a stealth bomber because it sounds so innocent and legitimate and down to earth. The problem is that a lot of times it's "Well in my upper middle class white experience..." like i've smashed on in comments before.

I really wish people would more often sit down and think "Hey, where am i coming at this from as far as how my life has played out?" more often before they wrote comments giving advice or critiques about how other people should be leading their lives. This site is better than most, but could still really use some work on that.
posted by emptythought at 12:08 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The fact that they clarified later they weren't just talking about one thread reveals that, and i kinda wish Nomyte could jump in a delorean and restart the thread with a broader scope.

But even that DeLorean isn't magic. Explicitly making a MeTa post about a broad tendency tends to generate a lot of vaguely irritated comments to the effect of "I don't see what brought this up" and "I don't understand what you mean unless you can point to an example." At which point the conversation starts being about the example. Waiting for a few days after something provocative is posted before posting a MeTa in response tends to generate comments like "are we still mad about that old thing." People in general are eager to equivocate about specifics, which is a predictable side effect. But even among the equivocation, there is usually a bit of self-examination and some affirmative voices, like when languagehat quit MeFi. That wasn't a gentle reproach, and yet it led to some very interesting comments.

I appreciate the sympathy, emptythought. I absolutely admit that the behavior of crowds annoys me, but the positives of MeFi outweigh the negatives for me. I'm sorry if I make it difficult for anyone in the meantime, but please feel free to flag me or ignore me.
posted by Nomyte at 1:47 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The difference between cholera and "BPD" is that one is an actual disease caused by a known pathogen and the other is a culturally specific interpretation of a personality type. Calling both "diagnoses" obscures the extent to which psychiatric diagnosis is mostly the culturally specifc interpretation of stories patients or their loved ones tell.

"BPD" is no more a real disease than hysteria or the vapors. It's a story we tell about selfish, narcissistic behavior, not a thing that happens to people's brains, so far as anyone has yet shown. Diagnose away, lay person.. No one can prove you wrong.
posted by spitbull at 3:32 AM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


That was a post from someone reporting crippling anxiety about dealing with their mother. People who are in the happy position where this is not the case, and where they can handle a culturally normal sort of programme of family events without endangering their mental health and their relationship with a partner (and any prospect of a future relationship, if this one is destroyed) are in a position of great privilege themselves and often don't know it. People who suffer severe anxiety around their families get plenty guilt ladled onto them about why they are not acting like a 'good' son or daughter, that's why they often think they're not allowed to protect their own mental health till it cracks. Those who are sinking themselves cannot be a life-belt for others, no matter how 'culturally sensitive' or whatever else other people want them to be.
posted by Flitcraft at 3:34 AM on August 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Everyone is too privileged to answer the question!
posted by Area Man at 4:01 AM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


"BPD" is no more a real disease than hysteria or the vapors. It's a story we tell about selfish, narcissistic behavior, not a thing that happens to people's brains, so far as anyone has yet shown.

You can probably put 80% of the DSM in that category.

Here are the criteria for a BPD diagnosis, FWIW. Having been on the receiving end of this (by someone who had been diagnosed with it by a psychiatrist and had been in treatment for it, not my lay diagnosis), I've no doubt that it's an actual, diagnosable thing.

Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in (5).
A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. This is called "splitting."
Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in (5).
Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior.
Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
Chronic feelings of emptiness.
Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.


This person's mother is needy, not mentally ill. There is a big difference. I bolded what really separates people who have BPD vs people who are just kind of needy and annoying.
posted by empath at 4:43 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


spitbull: ""BPD" is no more a real disease than hysteria or the vapors."

I appreciate if you were making a point about the difficulty of diagnosing psychiatric disorders in the absence of physical signs, but that statement taken at face value goes against many decades of evidence-based psychiatry and is frankly offensive to people having to cope with a very real affliction.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 4:48 AM on August 14, 2013 [30 favorites]


I do put 80% of the DSM in that category. More, in fact.

And I say bull to "evidence based psychiatry." There is no direct "evidence" of a physical pathology that explains BPD. Or most other such "diagnoses," only differential responses to different medications and treatment modalities. And if you find my views "frankly offensive " I'm sorry to hear that and await the "evidence" for the universal cross-cultural existence of a disease called BPD. So-called "Aspies" are offended DSM5 took away their helpful diagnosis too.
Since my opinion in no way obstructs yours nor prevents you from "coping with a very real affliction," as you call it (as if I am not basing my opinion on seeing real people afflicted with spurious diagnoses for which, by the bye, there is no effective treatment anyway for many people so diagnosed) I will retain my opinion without apology for your "offense."

I stick by what I said, and (MD) shrinks I know personally share this view of BPD specifically, too.
posted by spitbull at 5:00 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Sings]The doctors support me IRL,
The doctors support me, you see....[/sings]

Perhaps we can agree, regardless of our feelings about the reality of BPD as a condition, that diagnoses of mental illnesses over the Internet are dangerous, whether or not we believe any given mental illness actually exists?
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:05 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I appreciate if you were making a point about the difficulty of diagnosing psychiatric disorders in the absence of physical signs, but that statement taken at face value goes against many decades of evidence-based psychiatry and is frankly offensive to people having to cope with a very real affliction.

For what it's worth, problems with BPD as a disorder is not a new thing that spitbull is coming up with all on his/her own. A lot of feminists in particular note the high prevalence of it being diagnosed only for women, and predominantly for conditions that are often socially unacceptable for women, and socially acceptable for men, because of the focus on "inappropriateness" and "self-damaging." For example: a man expressing anger loudly is often considered to be boisterous, while a woman doing the same thing is considered inappropriate, largely because of gender norms. Impulsivity in sex for men is considered "boys being boys", while for women it is often considered "self-damaging."

This is not to say that I'm taking one side or another - I don't know whether I agree or not - but to say that I think your response to spitbull was itself a little insensitive in assuming this was a thing Only Terrible People would say.
posted by corb at 5:11 AM on August 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


On the subject of the actual topic:

There is sometimes a thing where I will come into an AskMe and find that most of the answerers are coming from a place of relative wealth/privilege. Offhand, the last one I remember was essentially a "This person never takes us out/invites us over when we take them out/invite them over all the time, how can we fix it?" And I kind of mentally groaned at a lot of the responses saying "Man, you're right, there's no excuse for that." I notice this a lot also when there are different child welfare questions. "Should I call CPS?" "No, this is actually something that is financially based and not a result of neglect." after people have been horrified.

But instead of writing a MeTa about it, I just wrote another comment, essentially saying, "Hey, you may not have considered it, but economics may be affecting these actions. Let me tell you how." I sometimes do find myself writing those comments in AskMe, because I think that perspectives that consider that people's financial situations may be different are important.

The thing is, I don't think any of those people have bad intent, nor should they try to modulate their responses. They're answering from their experience, just like I'm answering from mine. Hopefully, the OP will take all perspectives and consider what works for them.

I think it would have been very easy to drop a "I don't know the financial situation, but is it possible your mother is poor? Often, low-income immigrants have difficulty with BLAH BLAH" into the thread, without even a single person taking offense, and that would have been really helpful. But it doesn't make sense to be mad at other posters about this, which it seems that you are.
posted by corb at 5:19 AM on August 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


Yeah, I in no way intend to minimize the problem of gender bias in diagnosing psychiatric disorders, I should have been more specific about that, sorry. But as I said the controversy as far as I can tell is mostly about the diagnosis, and then seeing a generally accepted disorder itself being blankly equated to "the vapors" seems pretty offensive to me.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:35 AM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Empath, your descriptor of BPD is from DSM IV and omits the important "as indicated by five (or more) of the following" (ie, you did not have to exhibit ALL the symptoms for a diagnosis). The new DSM V has different criteria (suicidal behaviour/threats are now not included, impulsivity is more generalised, and does not need to be in two areas). As the mother seems to be under medical care (medicated and has a therapist according to the OP) stating the mother is not mentally ill seems presumptuous.
posted by saucysault at 5:54 AM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


But as I said the controversy as far as I can tell is mostly about the diagnosis, and then seeing a generally accepted disorder itself being blankly equated to "the vapors" seems pretty offensive to me.

But I don't think anyone was saying "there is nothing wrong with/different about people diagnosed with BPD"- just that the specific categorization and lumping-together of various traits under the banner of BPD might be more of a generalization than saying "this person has tuberculosis," and that such generalizations might be damaging in some cases. Because BPD is a name we've chosen to give a certain collection of traits which, when enough of them appear together, are called BPD. It's not as concrete as a disease. And, since there have been many cases over the years of spurious disorders such as hysteria, which were not necessarily spurious because nothing was wrong, but because our cultural attitudes both caused some of the wrongness and gave us poor ideas about how to manage it- I think it makes sense to have some wariness when a new diagnosis comes out of nowhere and suddenly tons of people are getting diagnosed with it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:55 AM on August 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I agree, I just feel that saying it is "no more a real disease than hysteria or the vapors" to me seems to negate the existence of the disorder itself, invalidating the experience of individuals who may well themselves be perfectly comfortable with their diagnosis. In my view that should not preclude criticism of gender bias and other problems surrounding the diagnosing of psychiatric disorders.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:17 AM on August 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't understand what this has to do with WASPs or cultural sensitivity. This question is not a mathematical problem with an objective answer; people are going to give the answer that reflects their views, experiences and values. This call out boils down to "people are answering this question differently than Nomyte would".

Well, okay then. Feel free to give your own answer, but keep in mind it looks like you would actually give a materially worse answer because you are ignoring the "I'm trying to set boundaries" part and your are making totally unfounded assumptions.
posted by spaltavian at 7:14 AM on August 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


On the plus side, Nomyte says we were doing well until this point, so I feel pretty good about that.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:49 AM on August 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think it is worth remembering that the answers in Ask are specifically for the OP and not for the other people reading or responding. If you don't agree with the answers, don't assume that the OP agrees with you and start a MeTa about it. Give your different answer and let the OP decide if the Ask was helpful.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:49 AM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


"BPD" is no more a real disease than hysteria or the vapors. It's a story we tell about selfish, narcissistic behavior, not a thing that happens to people's brains, so far as anyone has yet shown.

I think most, if not all BPD will turn out to be caused by autoimmune problems:
Circulating thyroid autoantibodies are more prevalent in patients with mood disorders than in the general population, but longitudinal clinical data that establish a relationship between thyroid antibody status and the course of any psychiatric syndrome have been lacking. In addition, scant attention has been paid to thyroid hormones and autoimmunity in borderline personality disorder (BPD). We report a case of a patient with classic BPD whose fluctuating mood and, especially, psychotic symptoms-rated using a double-blind method-were directly linked to antithyroglobulin antibody titers serially determined over an inpatient period of 275 d. Significantly lower psychosis and depression ratings were seen during a 4-wk period of relatively low antithyroid antibody titers, during blinded treatment with carbamazepine, than were observed during two high autoantibody epochs.
...
The present data demonstrate a clinically significant, longitudinal correlation between fluctuating antithyroid antibody titers and symptoms of borderline psychopathology in our patient. It will be of interest to determine the prevalence, pathophysiologic mechanisms, and treatment implications of this putative autoimmune- BPD link.
posted by jamjam at 8:22 AM on August 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


I am not a sociologist, nor do I play one on TV.

But, these sort of things are bound to get pretty tough when they involve the children of immigrants, aren’t they? Because, in a very real way, the parents and the children don’t have exactly the same culture. Even if the children were born in the old country, and even if they live in an immigrant community, and even if the parents go out of their way to maintain as much as they can of their home culture – boy, it’s really rare that their children turn out exactly the same as they would have been if they’d stayed where their parents grew up. Their attitudes and expectations may not be identical to their neighbors’ who had native-born parents, but they’re probably not going to be 100% identical to their own parents', either.

So, the input the questioner is getting from the parent is probably going to be a lot of, “This is how I expect it to be, because it’s how I was enculturated.” The input they're likely to get from a lot of Mefites is, “This is how we would expect it to be, because it’s how we were enculturated.” And the OP has to figure out how much of each approach to take and still feel OK. Unless the responses are taking the tone of, "How dumb do you have to be to not know that this is how we do things here?" I'm not sure I see a clearly better way to do it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:27 AM on August 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


I understand why people have issues with the MeTa but I don't get why y'all are like SO angry with Nomyte about this...

Personally, I hate the "metafilter you were doing so well, but you have let down Nomyte who will now sit in judgement on you" aspect of this meta (and the previous diaper meta Nomyte instigated. Seriously, I think if you are choosing to make callouts of the community at this sort of rate you have to question whether you are the one not getting it.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:55 AM on August 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


I understand why people have issues with the MeTa but I don't get why y'all are like SO angry with Nomyte about this...

I think Nomyte's getting a pretty light-handed treatment here as MeTas go. I feel like if this MeTa was posted by another, less-regular member there would be torches and pitchforks.

As far as the original question is concerned, I feel like if all the answers assumed that the OP's mother was an elderly, impoverished, babushka'd, non-English speaker just because OP said "immigrant" that would be wrong, too. I thought the answers did very well in addressing boundaries, motherhood, and the acceptance issues of the SO without being colored by country of origin.
posted by kimberussell at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Personally, I hate the "metafilter you were doing so well, but you have let down Nomyte who will now sit in judgement on you" aspect of this meta

Exactly. And it's especially ludicrous to dismiss thousands of mefites when that question has so far received only twenty-one answers, including several double-dips and the link to this MeTa.

A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. This is called "splitting."

Hmm. Hmmmmm.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:20 AM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I didn't feel the answers were that Americ-centric and my background is European also.

Thing is, even with immigrant parents in common, Europeans are a multicoloured blanket of vast differences. So, not only do the parents and children of immigrants not have the same culture 100%-- often you will get people from Europe who's family dynamic is completely different to yours, and who's problems are completely not relate-able to each other.

And sometimes you get people from the exact *same* culture who have very different family dynamics, too.

For example, my parents emigrated in the 80s; they're very very different to the Europeans who came here in the 60s and 70s. My mother was a baby boomer, and has very forward thinking compared to some of her older friends. I wouldn't really be able to advise the daughters of one of my mother's friends because my mother is completely unlike theirs in almost every way. They no longer even speak their native language in a similar way.

Thing is, why should the OP need to clarify that her mother is employed, a polyglot, etc. She shouldn't have to unpaint the "my mother is a sweet dear babushka that latches onto filial responsibility and expects me to come over for borscht every weekend" -- that (erroneous it seems) assumption is on you, not them. In fact, I felt the cultural thing was not that significant, which is why it was downplayed. Let's not forget, Europe has many countries.

The thing is complex. We can add all these disclaimers in our posts, and asks-- or we could just put forth advice thoughts on the information we're given and hope that it helps. That's all I try to do. I don't pretend otherwise. I think most people here don't pretend otherwise, hence all the IANAD, IANAT, IANARLFRM*

Possibly diagnoses are thrown around a lot. I agree some terms are over-used, and some discretion should be used occasionally. Although again, I really don't think it was used as a "I think your mother is this!!" I think people often just use terms that they are familiar with -- due to their experiences in life, and I think it goes without saying that the person is not offering a diagnosis on a third-party. But then again, I guess I take the answers less seriously than some. But then, most people have issues. We all kinda have issues. To say, 'she probably has issues,' isn't that far off the mark, really.

Dunno. The easiest way to respond to an Ask full of points of views you heartily disagree with, is to offer a point of view you feel represents the situation better, and will answer the Ask better. Maybe without condemning/belittling other people's answers in the process, but addressing the points you feel need addressing. It doesn't need to be righteous indignation, either. You do make some potentially valid points about the nature of aging and such. So make them. If your answer resonates with the OP, great. It may just be the point of view that will help them. Or at the very least it will help them more than... this.

After all, our goal in posting answers to Ask is (I presume) the same-- to help people. That's the beauty of Ask, right? It is to me. It's why I became a member after lurking for six months. Ask helped me tremendously, (and I have many of them bookmarked) even though I wasn't the one asking the questions. So when an answer really really annoys you take a deep breath and remember that you're posting differing opinions-- but for that same goal.

Bleh. That was way too sappy. And too longs. But for reals. Ask helped me. So you know, lets not get bogged down in this, really.


*robot lawyer from mars.
posted by Dimes at 9:32 AM on August 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


> For what it's worth, problems with BPD as a disorder is not a new thing that spitbull is coming up with all on his/her own.

For what it's worth, spitbull has made it very clear that his disagreement with the validity of mental health disorders was not limited to BPD specifically.

corb: "I think your response to spitbull was itself a little insensitive in assuming this was a thing Only Terrible People would say."

Where did spitbull as get characterized as Terrible People? Good grief, goodnewsfortheinsane's comments are pretty much perfect examples of how to sensitively use I-statements while disagreeing.
posted by desuetude at 10:17 AM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think your response to spitbull was itself a little insensitive in assuming this was a thing Only Terrible People would say.

This is not likely to be a widely-shared interpretation of what was said. gnfti is, of all of the mod team, one of the politest and I thought his responses showed admirable restraint and diplomacy.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:33 AM on August 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


After all, our goal in posting answers to Ask is (I presume) the same-- to help people.

I agree, and I think it's worth thinking about AskMe as helping one person, the Asker. People answering the question can, and should, of course take into account things like economic privilege, race privilege, etc. -- basically, answerers should try to be aware of their own blind spots. But their answers don't need to encompass every possible iteration of the given problem; that is, if I answer anon's question, I don't need to account for every possible immigrant mother, I only need to focus on anon's actual individual grandmother.

I think that's where there's often a difference from MetaFilter, where discussions tend to be much more general and so generalizing from one person's experience (as was happening in the diaper thread) is much more of a problem. On those threads, it makes much more sense to try to, for example, account for every possible immigrant mother.

The offensiveness of asking "Why don't they just..." came up in the diaper MeTa, and I thoroughly agree that offering up solutions to people who aren't asking for them is obnoxious. The thing is, people on AskMe are specifically asking for solutions; they want someone to say "Why don't you just...", to some extent, though probably with less patronizing or condescending. I just don't think the same standards of "check your privilege" need to apply to each individual answer.
posted by jaguar at 11:38 AM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the OP in the Ask should lawyer up, since that's the usual advice handed out there these days.
posted by Mister_A at 11:53 AM on August 14, 2013


But as I said the controversy as far as I can tell is mostly about the diagnosis, and then seeing a generally accepted disorder itself being blankly equated to "the vapors" seems pretty offensive to me.

I understand where it would have seemed that way from your perspective, and I appreciate that you do try to spare a lot of people offense generally. For what it's worth, there is actually a lot of debate within some communities about the nature of things being labeled disorders vs just difficulties that people have. I personally, for example, am most familiar with this with PTSD - or as some people are calling it, PTS, saying that being traumatized by the act of war or other traumas is not a disorder but in fact a normal, humane reaction. Some people also have this opinion about BPD, while others of course do insist that this is a very real condition that must be considered as a disorder.

In part I think this has to do with the process of how we handle health treatment in this country - when psychiatrists or therapists bill insurance companies, for example, they need to code in what the "problem" being addressed is, relevant to the DSM IV. So some people cling to the medicalization, because it is the only way to receive treatment for the general conditions that would drive someone to seek help.
posted by corb at 11:53 AM on August 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mister_A: "I think the OP in the Ask should lawyer up, since that's the usual advice handed out there these days."

Lawyer down, man. Lawyer down.
posted by boo_radley at 12:08 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So some people cling to the medicalization, because it is the only way to receive treatment for the general conditions that would drive someone to seek help.

And some people, regardless of insurance, like to have a name for what's distressing them, since that also gives them more avenues for research and support. There are issues with how diagnoses are applied, yes, but labels aren't inherently bad.
posted by jaguar at 12:23 PM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it's presumptuous to be outraged or upset on an AskMe poster's behalf.

This is exactly how this MeTa struck me. Getting outraged on the behalf of other people is very very rarely the right way to go.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:28 PM on August 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lawyer down.

Adam Scott was great in that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:43 PM on August 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


why did you even mention that cortex i would watch the hell out of that show.
posted by sweetkid at 12:44 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lawyer down, man. Lawyer down.

Not if its been left out overnight.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:19 PM on August 14, 2013


cortex: "Adam Scott was great in that."

Holy shit.
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on August 14, 2013


What? Scott Adams was in that?
posted by Mister_A at 1:46 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Enjoy our new pillow stuffed with premium lawyer down. Never before has being couched in legalese felt so comfortable.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 2:21 PM on August 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


"How do you get down from an elephant?"
"Don't be silly! you don't get down from an elephant; you get down from a lawyer."
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:18 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The fact that you can somewhat optimize treatment of a problem by slotting it into a certain diagnostis means it's not arbitrary, even if you can't see it on an MRI. BPD falls into this uncomfortable category.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:26 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The difference between cholera and "BPD" is that one is an actual disease caused by a known pathogen and the other is a culturally specific interpretation of a personality type. Calling both "diagnoses" obscures the extent to which psychiatric diagnosis is mostly the culturally specifc interpretation of stories patients or their loved ones tell.

"BPD" is no more a real disease than hysteria or the vapors. It's a story we tell about selfish, narcissistic behavior, not a thing that happens to people's brains, so far as anyone has yet shown. Diagnose away, lay person.. No one can prove you wrong.


Wow, just wow.

First of all, what is actually separating you from the internet conspiracy theorists who think ADD is a made up disease for the same reasons here? I've encountered, and battled a lot of that. And i'm just not seeing whatever the special little modifier is supposed to be here that makes this any better than that.

It seems like you're hiding that same attitude behind the shield of sexism, under the assumption that anyone who challenges you is an automatic sexist. There are valid points to be made about the rate of diagnoses of the condition between men and women, but it's getting REALLY baby and the bathwater to trash the entire thing and compare it to the vapors or hysteria, and is definitely hyperbolic and adding little to nothing to the discussion.

I'm actually pretty annoyed that this thread had to turn in to some borderline scientology-style "Psychiatry don't real and is a blight on humanity" soapbox when that isn't even what the thread was remotely about. Shit on the people internet diagnosing some random woman, but don't shit on the existence of the condition in general.

Seriously, as someone else said, way to not only throw out and shit on years of research, but to do it in a really loaded way which sets it up to paint anyone who calls you out as some type of asshole or sexist. Just because it hasn't been 100% worked out how exactly it physiologically presents itself means that it doesn't exist? jesus.

There's a lot more to this than just "oh it's narcissistic behavior" or "society treats women who have more than a tiny bit of sex like shit when it's ok if men do it", and just pull-quoting that is cherry picking for an outcome.

It also makes it sound like you haven't known anyone living with it. Which i mean, is understandable to an extent. I have aspergers and i've seen and heard a lot of weird ass assumptions about what that meant or how exactly it presented itself from person to person. But having known a couple people who had it, and having talked to many other people who had a family member/friend/acquaintance who did there's just to much common ground for it to be some random made up thing.

Feel free to take my last paragraph and rip in to me going "exactly, see! stories! vapors!" and ignore the rest of my post, but i'm just generally offended by the way you approached this and how much of a free pass everyone has given you so far with only a bit of mild "hey, maybe that isn't the best" pushback. It's an inflammatory post, and a shitty attitude to take about this type of thing. I actually waited a good 4-5 hours to write this reply while i did some work and ate lunch just so that i wouldn't come off to angry or harsh.

But seriously, check your shit here. I can't escape the feeling you're getting a free pass for being a regular well liked member as opposed to someone everyone knows and likes(and hell, i like you). But this isn't the way people should be approaching this kind of thing. It's hard enough as it is to get people to recognize mental disorders as not just made up shit without even more people crapping on them.
posted by emptythought at 3:34 PM on August 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


This call out boils down to "people are answering this question differently than Nomyte would".

Nah, I'd say it boils down to Nomyte trying to find reason to be offended (wait, did somebody post something that white people have been known to do? boom, got 'em on privilege!) so as s/he could mount the drama llama and demonstrate how Nomyte is More Better Enlightened than the rest of all ye chauvinists. This MeTa is bullshit.
posted by amorphatist at 4:10 PM on August 14, 2013


"Nah, I'd say it boils down to Nomyte trying to find reason to be offended (wait, did somebody post something that white people have been known to do? boom, got 'em on privilege!) so as s/he could mount the drama llama and demonstrate how Nomyte is More Better Enlightened than the rest of all ye chauvinists. This MeTa is bullshit."

Although I believe that Nomyte is mistaken in this case, I see no reason to assume that he was motivated by anything other than genuine distress at what he felt was the narrow-mindedness of the answers.

Since we're apparently doing some mindreading, I'll mention that your presumption that Nomyte was motivated by a desire for self-aggrandizement says more about you than it says about him.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:43 PM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


it's getting REALLY baby and the bathwater to trash the entire thing and compare it to the vapors or hysteria

As I read it, spitbull was responding to a comment lumping BPD in with cholera. I think the person who made that original remark was just trying to toss in a little absurd juxtaposition for comedic effect, and didn't mean to be careless in doing so, but the net result was that it triggered a digression. It happens.

I understand that you disagree quite strongly with spitbull's point-of-view, but I would also suggest you check your own head before ripping someone else's off. No one is saying mental disorders don't exist. What I hear being said is that there are multiple ways to conceptualize those disorders, and the DSM isn't the only or final authority on those conceptualizations.
posted by nacho fries at 4:58 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is perhaps a way to read spitbull more charitably. He could have meant to say that "the vapors" could be an equally valid medical entity. It's actually not a trivial question whether observable signs, behaviors, and experiences can be uniquely united under a single umbrella, or if there multiple equally valid ways of assigning items to categories.

His followup comments make this reading less likely, but I choose to think about this one because it's more interesting. I'm no expert, but even limited reading shows that medical entities in the mental health realm are culturally bound. This is why medical anthropology is a big field. People's ideas and beliefs about health and healthcare shape their concepts of well-being and disease, and in turn shape the kind of care and treatment they get. And some of this stuff goes well beyond the mental health realm, like sudden unexpected death syndrome among Hmong men. There's substance there.
posted by Nomyte at 5:18 PM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ironically, what was called "hysteria" is now "conversion disorder" and refers to cases where the client exhibits symptoms of a physical illness but the "cause" is presumed to be psychological.

Conversion disorder is a real disorder, and there was a particularly interesting case of it developing and spreading on the East Coast recently, where it went through a High School and then "hopped" via social media to a non-geographically-close group of other people. Humans are fascinating, wonderful, creative beings.

There are gendered issues with a lot of mental illnesses (depression is a good example of a mental illness under-diagnosed in men because the recognized symptoms of it are highly gendered - i.e. the emotion left to women tends to be sadness while the emotion left to men tends to be anger for likely socialized reasons), and there are mental illnesses that are clearly a result of different cultures, and there are mental illnesses that are found cross culturally but treated in profoundly different ways. Psychology is complicated because people are complicated and because being a person trying to study people makes the complication recursive (or fractal, depending on your preferred image).
posted by Deoridhe at 5:23 PM on August 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Since we're apparently doing some mindreading, I'll mention that your presumption that Nomyte was motivated by a desire for self-aggrandizement says more about you than it says about him.

No mindreading required, just a bit of textreading:

Jesus, MeFi, you were doing so well, and then… this.

Handed down direct from the bench. Also, his previous (recent) MeTa began with another declaration:

This discussion thread is disgusting, and it's not just the poop.

"Self-aggrandizement" is exactly the term I was looking for, so thanks for that.
posted by amorphatist at 5:24 PM on August 14, 2013


Nah, I'd say it boils down to Nomyte trying to find reason to be offended (wait, did somebody post something that white people have been known to do? boom, got 'em on privilege!) so as s/he could mount the drama llama and demonstrate how Nomyte is More Better Enlightened than the rest of all ye chauvinists. This MeTa is bullshit.

Urgh. I have mostly stayed out of this thread, because I was kind of put off by the tone and had nothing to add except things other people were saying, but I don't think the antidote to Nomyte's rather abrasive framing is this sort of put down. It seems more that Nomyte was genuinely worked up and went a little overboard. And there are more cogent critiques above.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:25 PM on August 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


I understand that you disagree quite strongly with spitbull's point-of-view, but I would also suggest you check your own head before ripping someone else's off.

Another way to look at this; maybe don't write things in a really abrasive inflammatory way if you don't want people to be offended or upset by them.

I get what spitbull was saying, but the way that it was presented is not the best and your reading of it is absolutely the most charitable you could get from it.

I was definitely not the only one to go "Woah, hold on their sailor!" at that post as well.

It's a topic that people have strong feelings about, and calling out my reaction while also giving the best possible read to the original post that set off several other people just feels a bit shitty and "settle down" ish to me.
posted by emptythought at 6:46 PM on August 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


maybe don't write things in a really abrasive inflammatory way if you don't want people to be offended or upset by them.

You and I are in agreement on that point.
posted by nacho fries at 7:23 PM on August 14, 2013


but I don't think the antidote to Nomyte's rather abrasive framing is this sort of put down.

You are of course correct.
posted by amorphatist at 7:43 PM on August 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another way to look at this; maybe don't write things in a really abrasive inflammatory way if you don't want people to be offended or upset by them.

I think it's possible that people are not intending to say things in a really abrasive, inflammatory way, but are doing it anyway because these are really emotional issues and they feel strongly about them. I think people often also fail to see their own abrasiveness while noting others.

Your post, for example, could be read as abrasive - did you mean it to be that way?
posted by corb at 8:04 PM on August 14, 2013


Just stopping by to note that there are many disease entities which modern medicine does not currently understand or have any way of diagnosing aside from a clinical assessment of the patient. Many of these are known as "diagnoses of exclusion" (chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, IBS, gluten 'sensitivity', and cyclic vomiting syndrome are some of the most common). I am sure you could find doctors who doubt whether many of these diagnoses are real diseases, or who suspect that these medical illnesses are in fact manifestations of psychiatric disorders. I confess to feeling this way myself once in a while. It can be very difficult to care for patients whose disease processes are not understood, for whom the medical profession currently has little to offer. It can be even more difficult to be a patient diagnosed with one of these illnesses, and to feel incurable, ashamed, hopeless, and filled with self doubt due to our inability to provide treatment for these issues.

Regardless of my frustrations in dealing with these challenging patients, I would not publicly declare that these aren't real disorders just because I can't look at what's causing them under a microscope yet. There was a time when viruses hadn't been identified yet, but eventually people figured out how to isolate them. I have no doubt that if we are able to one day find a laboratory test to diagnose people who have BPD, some of the people who previously had that diagnosis will turn out not to test positive, but I see no reason to discount the possibility of a physiologic basis for BPD. Saying "BPD is just a diagnosis we give people who act a certain way that we don't like" sounds to me not too far from saying "diagnosing depression is just a way we pathologize people who are sad." The way these people act isn't just a quirk, it gets in the way of them being able to have successful relationships, jobs, and lives.

Someone during my training once told me that psychiatry is a medical field that is still stuck in medieval times in terms of its abilities to diagnose and treat patients. I don't think that's wholly accurate, but I think the idea that we might look back in 50 years and say "wow, psychiatry back in those days was in its infancy" might have some merit to it. It makes sense, given how little we understand about brain function in general. Today's diagnostic dilemma is tomorrow's medical miracle. At least that's my optimistic way of thinking about it.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:41 PM on August 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


Oh my I read all these posts....what...and then immediately thought that it was something my Mexican momma would say at some point...love her...
posted by OhSusannah at 9:42 PM on August 14, 2013


If you deliberately venture on to ask mefi you've only yourself to blame.
posted by klue at 10:48 PM on August 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: Since we're apparently doing some mindreading, I'll mention that your presumption that Nomyte was motivated by a desire for self-aggrandizement says more about you than it says about him.

Right or wrong, no it doesn't. Not calling you out specifically, but the "says more about you than..." construction has been used a lot here lately and it is almost universally A) wrong and B) more condescending or abrasive than the comment it responds to.
posted by spaltavian at 7:17 AM on August 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


spitbull: The difference between cholera and "BPD" is that one is an actual disease caused by a known pathogen and the other is a culturally specific interpretation of a personality type. Calling both "diagnoses" obscures the extent to which psychiatric diagnosis is mostly the culturally specifc interpretation of stories patients or their loved ones tell.

"BPD" is no more a real disease than hysteria or the vapors. It's a story we tell about selfish, narcissistic behavior, not a thing that happens to people's brains, so far as anyone has yet shown. Diagnose away, lay person.. No one can prove you wrong.


Spitbull made a very interesting point here. It is unfortunate that the comparison they chose was not only dismissive (vapors and hysteria are so often used as examples of science silliness) but also sexist (he could have compared it to other medical diagnoses now proven wrong, of which I'm sure there are *many*, without picking the two that were wielded against women as a sign of their inherent weakness and vulnerability).

The notion that some diagnoses make sense within certain cultures and not in others, that diagnosis is not scientifically objective but driven by a culture's narrative of normalcy, raises tremendous issues for medical ethics. Homosexuality and pederasty were culturally sanctioned in Ancient Greece; complex gender identity in many Native-American cultures cannot be quickly explained away by gender identity disorders described in various iterations of the DSM. And it is also true that descriptive language, when it comes out of the mouths of those who have the power to treat us, becomes prescriptive. Diagnosing a set of symptoms and assigning them a name shapes our relationship to certain behaviors, as a culture, which cannot help but encourage certain forms of categorizing and treatment. This stuff is fascinating, and our knowledge of this should influence the way researchers and professionals approach diagnosis. But it certainly doesn't invalidate diagnosis. Native-American culture or not, gender identity disorders are real in OUR culture, and they have very real consequences. Homosexuality (thankfully no longer a "disorder") is very real, and has consequences. Regardless of whether or not sadness has been over-pathologized, the reality is that depression in our culture is real and has consequences.

I guess I wonder why it's useful to want to make a distinction between diseases and disorders, as though some were real and some were imagined. Scientists often make discoveries that shed light on what we once thought was a settled accepted idea about x disease or y bodily function (look at the discoveries in the last decades regarding the appendix for instance), and yet for a time, our ideas were correct enough to treat people and save lives. Which is what most people are doing: their best with what they know. So dismissing something such as BPD or ADD or whatever (I mean just look at the clusterfuck that is diagnosing Autism) as chimeras because they aren't caused by a pathogen or because we can't yet see some specific part of the brain light up during an MRI seems not only dismissive, but to misunderstand scientific progress.
posted by microcarpetus at 9:19 AM on August 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Native-American culture or not, gender identity disorders are real in OUR culture

Your culture then, not "ours".
posted by nacho fries at 11:42 AM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


the "says more about you than..." construction has been used a lot here lately and it is almost universally A) wrong and B) more condescending or abrasive than the comment it responds to.

Yep, and what I hate most is how damning of an attack it is at face value because of the "ohh burnnn" factor(by which I mean, a lot of people will shift the burden to you and go "hmm I wonder why they didn't respond to that" if you don't) and how since its an utter ad hominem there's not really a great defense against it since they just made it personal.

It's such a high yield, low effort bomb to wing out there. It calls in to question the posters motives and character when that might not even be relevant.

I think it maybe could have a place in a very narrow set of circumstances, when someone is blatantly pushing an agenda or say, making assumptions along the lines of "since I have this weird/shitty/racist/something opinion and its logical, I'm assuming every Thinking Person does, therefor..." And needs a rolled up newspaper. It's not the best possible option though.

And the thing is, it's becoming like "troll" or "white knight" on the greater Internet. It gets whipped out whenever someone wants to silence someone else and call them in to question, regardless of whether they've actually done anything deserving of escalating the discussion to that red card, stop the game level.

There's also definitely a large level of condescending to it even when it's a righteous callout.

In the end it just feels lazy, and like a tacked on extra puppy kick even when it's on point. In the end i wish people would address what someone's saying head on point by point, not with some cheap quick quip.

And yea, I'm pretty sure I've said it once or twice in the thousand or so posts I've made here, but oh well. I'll try harder in the future because I'm really tired of it now.
posted by emptythought at 12:04 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure it was amorphatist who ventured forth with an ad hominem. I think he liked the term "self-aggrandizement" and suggested that I look for things white people do to get angry about so that I can seem holier than thou.

Since I'm pretty sure I understand my own motives, amorphatist's comment literally tells me more about him than it tells me about myself.
posted by Nomyte at 1:13 PM on August 15, 2013


Just because their comment wasn't great doesn't mean that was a great response to it. They drug the discussion to a low level and you kept it there.

They both kinda fall in to the monkeys flinging poop category, do you get what I'm saying?

A point by point breakdown involving some of the stuff you just said wouldn't feel like a cheap jab to sling mud back at them and put up the blast shields of partial impunity like that kind of comment can.

I'm not even saying I'm perfect at all, when it comes to holding myself to this standard. But I try.
posted by emptythought at 4:30 PM on August 15, 2013


Hm? That wouldn't work because I didn't respond to that comment. Ivan Fyodorovich did.
posted by Nomyte at 7:22 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nomyte: I think he liked the term "self-aggrandizement

Do you not see where that feeling is coming from? Your MeTa was framed in an agreessive, holier-than-thou way. And it really doesn't seem like you cared too much about if the advice was useful for the question-asker, but that you were upset people's answer didn't conform to your view of how things should be. (I genuinely believe the advice you are calling WASP-y insensitivity was good, and I bet the people who gave it did to.)

The whole MeTa was an ad hominem. Seriously, re-read it:

But what has your mother done for you lately?
Jesus, MeFi, you were doing so well, and then… this. Maybe you thought cultural sensitivity only extends as far as inconsequential, arbitrary etiquette, like remembering not to offer your left hand to shake and not sticking your chopsticks into the rice, and not, you know, actually deep and meaningful cultural differences, like the personal meaning of "family," and "filial responsibility," and "aging." The answers in that AskMe thread don't just seem Americentric, they're like some kind of idealized upper-middle New England WASP front: why not join a ladies' social club? why not sit on the board of a local charity nonprofit? why not while away lazy afternoons playing bridge? Hell, half the people answering the question seem happy to just flat-out medicalize the differences they see!

Most people would agree that interacting with and caring for aging parents can be a source of difficulty. But I'm not sure the answers have any reason to be so presumptuous, heartless, and dismissive of difference. Or maybe MeFi can start looking forward to more snappy answers to eldercare questions? That would be a treat! "Your parents didn't bother to accumulate a nest egg before retirement? Well, sucks to be them! Feel free to wash your hands of that little matter."

posted by spaltavian at 6:26 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Do you not see where that feeling is coming from? Your MeTa was framed in an agreessive, holier-than-thou way. And it really doesn't seem like you cared too much about if the advice was useful for the question-asker, but that you were upset people's answer didn't conform to your view of how things should be. (I genuinely believe the advice you are calling WASP-y insensitivity was good, and I bet the people who gave it did to.) "

Assuming that your characterization of the tone of his post is accurate, that still is not proof that his real motivation for it was to make himself look good. It doesn't even suggest it. People make MeTa posts about what they think is bad behavior all the time and I'm pretty sure that almost all of them are in earnest and rarely, if ever, posturing for self-aggrandizement.

I think it's weird that anyone's nose is out-of-joint over my comment when that accusation against Nomyte was extreme and unwarranted. When someone says something extreme and unwarranted, it really does say a lot more about them than their target.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:13 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know that Nomyte's motivation was to make himself look good, but it did make him sound like he knew a whole lot more about all of this than any of the answerers possibly could. More than they could imagine, even. He jumped on people for making assumptions, but he made an awful lot of them himself.
posted by rtha at 3:34 PM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sure, I agree. But "it boils down to Nomyte trying to find reason to be offended (wait, did somebody post something that white people have been known to do? boom, got 'em on privilege!) so as s/he could mount the drama llama and demonstrate how Nomyte is More Better Enlightened than the rest of all ye chauvinists" is pretty specific and extreme.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:56 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, fine, then! I agree with you, too!

I do hate the "you're just being offended on behalf of someone else" thing.

I'm going to go back to watching the awesome rap battle on the blue now.
posted by rtha at 5:27 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


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