*Post has been updated due to absurd threats made against me by an admin of this support group for libel and defamation. It is important to note that libel is the making of a false statement about someone and defamation is the making of a false statement with the intent to harm another’s reputation – both of which must be proven WITHOUT A DOUBT to be a lie AND, in the case of defamation, must also prove that damage has already been done to the individual’s reputation. I stand by the following post describing events as I perceived saw them – which in this case means… it’s my OPINION.
I needed a couple of days to digest the recent events on Facebook – in that support group I did not name in my last post. I didn’t want to get caught up in the drama, I didn’t. However, it’s all too easy to get swept up in a crusade full of emotional moms (and at least two dads) because – hell hath no fury like a D-mom. And now – hell hath no fury like Tara on a tear.
During the months I was a member of this private group, I noticed a common thread among them. They’re like rabid dogs when someone in the community is wronged, like when CrossFit sardonically invited the public to open a can of
Coca-Cola Diabetes, or some mysterious health-related page offered an “all-natural” cure for all diabetes. They’d rant about it for hours, days… they’d flood those pages with comments and then rage some more when their comments were deleted. I felt that (translation: in my opinion) way too much emotional energy was spent on this stuff to the detriment of actual support of one another.
What I also
noticed perceived was the occasional snarky comment directed at one another – remember this is a support group – and there’d be some mild drama over some perceived judgement. I had days when I just thought – I don’t need this. But, I stayed.
And then – Liamgate. Liam was a little 6-year-old boy recently diagnosed with T1 and in serious DKA, life-flighted to children’s hospital, suffering two seizures, and then began a promising road to recovery. The problem with this story seems to be that someone suggested Liam wasn’t real. The allegations began in this support group as someone noticed that the person who originally (read: first) posted in the support group about Liam had suddenly vanished. Given the overall temperament of these members, this had all the makings of a California brush fire. And all it takes is a little gasoline to cause a state of emergency, in the form of finger-pointing at another organization and suggesting this was all a fabrication, meant to shock and grab attention for DKA. (Which, in my opinion, IS defamation AND libel.)
While many details remain unclear and somewhat convoluted, what is clear is that this support group swiftly excommunicated the owner of the Other Organization and carried out a post aimed to discredit them (ahem – defamation… libel), and its members jumped into the thread like a pack of wolves on a deer. I was shocked at how quickly these people believed the allegations with no real facts, conveniently forgetting that one of its own was the first to tell Liam’s story. One admin for the group was particularly vocal on this thread all day long, like a dog with a bone (in my opinion). Meanwhile over on the Other Organization’s page…. the fire had already begun burning. Many, many support group members began questioning the admin there and making accusations.
Back on the support group to which I belonged – a handful of people suggested we all drop the witch hunt (actual words used in the thread) (the drama was overshadowed only by the horror in Paris), including myself but not in so many colorful metaphors. The admins there insisted this was a very very big concern because “these people” had lied about this child and it negatively affects the community and especially the integrity of their organization. (I don’t see how the latter is possible, but whatev.) This, btw, is a very, very big assumption based on nothing more than the disappearance of the original poster and Liam’s mother. Oh yeah – and the fact that some members’ investigations couldn’t turn up anyone by either of their names, which in retrospect speaks volumes about how far some people will go.
What disturbed me only slightly less than these accusations was the subsequent blocking of comments and the removal of a handful of members from the group (a fact that can be attested to by a number of witnesses). The Other Organization was being methodically picked apart by members of the support group (including the dog with a bone) and was blocked from answering questions (fact). Another member, with an organization of her own, commented with the voice of reason and I shouted hallelujah! And exactly 60 seconds later her comment disappeared. I watched it happen. I asked, what happened to her comment and….crickets.
Following this, I noticed a part of this thread where the Founder of the support group suggested to a member (who questioned why this whole Liam story was causing so much drama), that if she doesn’t feel supported here or that it’s not the place for her, then “by all means get your support there.” WHAT?! This certainly doesn’t sound very supportive at all, in my opinion.
What happened next was the icing on the cake. As I had pm’d Founder before, I felt comfortable reaching out again and asking if anyone knew what was going on, that it was really disturbing and – apparently this would be the nail in my coffin – that I was concerned because I had been in contact with the Other Organization. Her response was that everyone was encouraged to do their own investigating, and she was careful not to place the blame on anyone. (<<Does this sentence sound like defamation?) I also mentioned this big meeting I was attending on Saturday and thought it had great potential to reach other states as well. She encouraged me to “press on” and suggested I “look through the files, there is awesome info in there!” However, the very next day I learned that I was no longer in the group, and that she had personally blocked me. I was stunned. What had I done?
Nevertheless, I’m still over it. They made my decision for me and, like we always say, there are no accidents. Too much drama in the group and, frankly, too many members. And hundreds are very new to diabetes. After a few days distance, I’ve had time to sift through my thoughts and doubts. I don’t know if Liam is real either – whether his mom was overwhelmed by all these people in the group sending her messages and asking questions, and didn’t want her privacy invaded, or if Liam was an invention by someone who had something to gain by tarnishing another’s reputation. In any case, I. Don’t. Give. A. Damn.
Whatever the facts may be, this I know –
Diabetes is a multi-million dollar business… pharmaceuticals to physicians, pump companies to diabetes supplies and accessories for making management easier… and then there’s the newest incorporated nonprofit group selling merchandise with their name all over it. This IS a fact, so I’m allowed to say that. Yes, I’ve done a little research myself recently.
The Founder is not the “dog with a bone.”
Support groups can be a great source of comfort. Make sure you find one that gives you that, and where you know that no one (under the “God is good” mentality) would ever exclude anyone, or suggest you leave.
In my last post I likened the members to sheep – and that’s just not right, so I apologize. They are not sheep. I believe they are nice people who just got caught up in the storm. I just hope they don’t drink the Kool-aid.
While I was working on this update, I received yet another message from the admin threatening legal action for my defaming the Founder and/or their group and suggested that I review the law again (apparently the above definition from my attorney is wrong) because I am “in violation.”
I also want to state that this support group had use of my daughter’s image for promotional videos for Diabetes Awareness Month, an image they had taken from the private page where I shared it. However, I honestly did not remember consenting to the image being imprinted with the logo of a certain research foundation and its insinuation that we are affiliated with it. Further unsolicited messages from admin were screenshots of my supposed consent, in argument to my allegations. Regardless, since I was blocked from the support group I was uncomfortable with their use of her image out of my consent and control. I sent multiple requests to have it taken down – all were ignored and one of the admins chose to block me rather than respond. It was not until I contacted You Tube to address the issue that I received a response from one of them. Her initial (THIRTEEN DAYS after my first request) response was that they would comply with regards to the image but threatened a libel suit for the “vile things” I wrote in the original blog post. I was told to remove the screen shot identifying the Founder along with her words, and that if my opinion openly defaming a person is not taken down, their organization will have no choice but to proceed legally.
Being a peacekeeper by nature, I have removed identifying information so that I can continue to move forward with what I love and what is far more important. I absolutely hate drama and will not be a party to it, but moreover – I will NOT be bullied into retracting an entire post that doesn’t name anyone or any group or organization. That is a violation of my 1st Amendment rights. This is the last post about this matter.
Only best wishes to all the parties involved. We need a Cure NOW.