You Need To

I’ve been having a hard time writing lately; I’ve been mentally blocked. I’m even having a hard time reading some of my favorite blogs. I’m chalking it up to a temporary fatigue not just with cancer, but with the way damn near every issue is discussed. I hit a boiling point the other day that made me immediately start laughing. And I realized I am just sick of EVERYthing.

What caused this?

Well, I’ve griped here on this blog about some of my dislikes with certain words and phrases in CancerLand (see Some Word Problems). I know many others agree with my thoughts on some of these major language gripes—you know, “fight, battle, awareness…” all those. They are so overused! The word awareness is now meaningless to me. I’m sure I’ll delve into that subject (again) in some future post.

But I’ve found lately nearly all kinds of words are so overused that I’m reacting like I’m hearing nails on a chalkboard. I’ve been reluctant to complain about them because I know most everyone else uses these words, and are OK with them. But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say I’m sick of these words anyway. I’m not criticizing anyone for using them; this my fault for being too immersed in media. I’m not suggesting anyone amend how they speak or write, on the contrary, I’ve used these words myself, and only want to change my own habits. And I’m just trying to clear the cobwebs out of my mind with a few random rants.

Words/phrases that I’m not going to gripe about in this particular post—but will likely confront later—are common and simple, like “powerful/empowering”. So tired of those two being used to describe stuff. And “journey”—ugh, that one makes me nuts. The incident that made me laugh as I mentioned in the first paragraph? I ran across a blog about weight loss and the author said something like: why does my weight loss program have to be called a “journey”? And then I knew that “journey” was not just overused in CancerLand (stuff like “your cancer journey” has always made me retch). It seems society just uses words like “journey” or “struggle” for anything these days. And clearly I’m not the only one disliking it.

Like I said, I don’t want to concentrate on ALL the little words driving me crazy in this post—I’m sure more posts about one word/phrase at a time will pop up here and there in the future. What is driving me most crazy today is this one: “you need to….”

Whenever I’m told I need to do something, that pretty much guarantees I won’t do it. And yes, I’ve said the need to phrase myself on this blog (Somebody Needs to Buy These Media People a Dictionary—and I stand by the thoughts in that ancient post), so obviously I’m just as guilty of trying to modify others’ behavior to suit me.

What irks me about being told I need to do something—and yes, I’ve been told in my comments I need to rethink my points—is that I view it a shortsighted, and illogical as an argument. And even if the argument made is valid, the rudeness of the need to phrase undercuts the strength of the argument. When I was told I need to think or educate myself about an issue in an old comment, I was annoyed because it was such a poor argument. I had indeed reviewed/thought about the issues brought up by the angry comments. My mistake was poor writing, and not making myself clear to show that I’d considering many angles of the issue. That is a sticking point for me in fact—I try to see ALL sides of an issue, but sometimes that is a bad thing, it paralyzes me into not taking a stand or making a decision (that’s a post for another day).

I’ve seen the need to phrase used and the one using it is quite right, but the rudeness of the phrase, the smug superiority I perceive when I read or hear the phrase, undercuts the point. I remember a rant blog post making the rounds last Pinktober asking why other cancers are not sexualized like breast cancer. A VERY angry reaction by a patient with a rarer cancer included the directive “you need to think about…” It undercut her rant for me totally. I happened to agree—comparing illnesses, comparing how cancers are “sold” is a bad move. When discussing the sexualization of breast cancer, those of us criticizing should keep in mind the dirty benefits reaped from the campaigns (awareness begets funding—this is a post for another day, again), and bring the fact that breast cancer is the most “popular” (read: funded) cancer into the discussion. But being told we NEED TO do it just rankles.

I started writing this over 30 minutes ago and could not remember what set me off. I mean, the need to phrase is so damn overused! I researched and again it was a rant I agreed with—but the “you need to” command at the end ruined it for me. A woman had written about how racism, fat shaming, and income inequality were health issues. Someone had pointed out that fat leads to strokes in a comment to her. You know those types of comments—I see them in EVERY post written about weight. Turns out the woman had a hole in her heart that led to her weight gain, strokes and other illness. If she’d had money to be tested earlier, all those issues would’ve been prevented. It was a great lesson; I was on board with her 100%. But her directive that her commenter NEEDED to stop cosigning this crap just killed it for me.

Are there things we NEED to do? Of course. But this cultural habit of wanting to “school” someone in this manner is driving me crazy.

OK, just my stupid little random rant for today. I know it must seem odd—a curmudgeon who rants A LOT fussing about counter-rants. But, this is just my point of view today. Maybe I’ll change my mind. I’m just dealing with a great amount of cancer culture (or all health issues culture) fatigue at the moment.