Treatment Guid

Gluten Free Soapbox: Say NO to “Meanies” in Forums

So many boxes, so little time… [taliesin/Morguefile

For this week’s gluten free soapbox we go back to the forums. Those online “support groups” that are supposed to be a place of sharing, healing and camaraderie. People log on to the gluten free forums to talk about their troubles and make friends who are struggling with the same issues they are. That is why I am so disturbed today.

Something I’ve noticed happening every so often (not constantly, but too much) is the sarcasm and derision thrown at certain people on the forums. There are some people who are very rude when answering posts and responding to concerns from others. Often times, this leads to the original poster leaving the forum completely and traveling their lonely gluten free road alone.

This leads to the question, What is wrong with you people!? Really, is it so hard to believe that in a situation like starting a gluten free diet that there will be strange questions? Can we really stomp on people for having symptoms we have never encountered?

There are a lot of different sensitivity levels and different reasons for going gluten free. Is it possible that just because you, yourself don’t have a certain reaction, that someone else might? It angers and saddens me to see that even in places that are supposed to be helpful there are still people who can’t control their rudeness.

It seems extreme to suggest that because someone has a reaction to a certain gluten free product that they are imagining things. How dare you presume to be the ultimate gluten free deity and pronounce judgement on someone who was looking for real advice! Is it so hard to just be a real person?

The opposite is true too. I’ve also seen it turned around so that a well meaning person has recommended a product and got shut down for it. Sometimes these answers are downright cruel.

Here is my advice for people who are so dissatisfied with their own lives that they can’t help spraying venom on unsuspecting strangers: Get over yourself! You are in the same boat as the rest of us and have no right to drill holes in other people’s space.

As for the vast majority of people on gluten free forums who consistently offer good advice and help, I thank you. You are making a difference. Don’t let the meanies chase you away.

Author Information: Marissa Carter, Kansas City
Marissa Carter
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About Marissa Carter

Marissa is an active member of the gluten free community. She writes gluten free recipes and informational articles online. She also writes reviews of restaurants and gluten free products. Contact Marissa at
  • ZebraReader says:

    I know you are angered by someone’s insensitivity, but I am not sure what comments you are referring to. Maybe you could give examples without giving names? Maybe some people don’t know they are being cruel and mean? Maybe they think they are being helpful. Just a thought….

  • Dr. "X" Pharm.D says:

    I’ve seen some “meanies”. I figure they have fallen prey to the fact many posters aren’t “face to face” and they say things they never would say in person.

    There is also a lot of people with very strange ideas they have formed about celiac disease and it’s symptoms and have a tendency to attack posters that do not agree with their um…unique views. Often they seem to thing they are the Kings of the forum. I attribute this to other psychological issues and personality traits, not to mention that years of painful illness can cause the darker side of people to come out.

    I used to post to several lists and offer my professional advice as a Doctor of Pharmacy at a major Los Angeles hospital but after too many forum “attacks” on my advice, I just lurk.

    And the person asking about their meds doesn’t get the correct information that is offered. I feel sad that this happens as gluten free medicine facts can be difficult to find…especially since it takes for me just an hour to respond and a email to the manufacturer can take days.

    This is endemic in all online forums and I think the answer is to ask ourselves why we are posting? Is it to help or hinder?

    Dr. “X” Pharm.D and most of all fellow celiac.

  • I run the Las Vegas support group and we have over 600 members and rarely do I see rude comments posted. The couple of times I have the poster usually apologizes once they realize their comment was rude. But I wish that the comments taht are rude that I miss would be brought to my attention so I can address the issue. I don’t want people to leave because of bad playground manners.

  • Aunt Jayne says:

    Thank you so much for writing this!
    I have had a few “meanies” make me feel rediculous. I hope they read this article!

  • Vincent Ballou says:

    I think the best solution is to always be nice. If you don’t know an answer, admitting that you don’t know is the best way. Kindness goes a long way. If you encounter someone describing a condition they go through, of which, you never heard, please be considerate and assume this person is going through what they say they are going through. They have no reason to lie. If we have a choice, we don’t want to have to be on these forums. We don’t want to have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. We are here, because we have no choice. We have the sensitivity, and/or the disease and symptoms, no matter how unheard of, they are.

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