ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
So last week's blog post about my macrobiotic days, back in my misspent youth, has continued to attract a steady stream of diet enthusiasts of various kinds, nearly all of them convinced that it's their job to tell me that I'm the wrongest wrong that ever wronged, or something tolerably close to that. I had somebody insisting at the top of his keyboard that I'm "an amazingly horrible person" because I disagree with his vegan dietary notions -- clearly I need to work on my evil cackle.  I had someone else try twice to post a long screed about how the ketogenic diet really is the one true diet that everybody ought to eat. I had a follower of yet another eccentric American diet guru, I forget his name, trying to promote some other dietary theory -- and I've had several other people on this week's post, which is about ethics, trying to figure out how to shoehorn yet more adulation for Saint Weston A. Price and his one true holy nutritional theory into the blog. In its own giddy way it's been quite entertaining, and it's also a good measure of just how impressively neurotic people in today's America have become about the simple process of keeping yourself fed. 

food fightI'm really tempted to keep feeding the frenzy, so to speak, by writing more about diet. No doubt it's a character flaw, but when people reliably go all ranty-pants about an issue, especially when there are thirty-one flavors of ranty-pants and they're all on display at once, I have a hard time not poking fun at them in the hope that sooner or later they'll figure out just how unimpressive they look to the rest of us -- well, or if that fails, then simply encouraging those who aren't caught up in the food fight to remember that they're not alone. 

food fightFeeding yourself really is a simple process. It doesn't require reading books or following somebody's complicated nutritional theory; it's simply a matter of paying attention to what foods make you feel healthy and eating those fairly often, while noticing which foods make you feel unhealthy and avoiding those -- unless you like them enough that you're good with the aftereffects, in which case bon appetit. No matter what you eat or don't eat, you're going to get sick on occasion; no matter what you eat or don't eat, you're going to die sooner or later; what you eat or don't eat has some influence on how healthy you are and how soon you die, but it's far from the only factor at work, you know, and in many cases it's not even close to the most important.

It's nobody else's business, by the way, what you eat or how healthy you are, and it's none of your business what other people eat and how healthy they are. Yes, I know that saying those words makes me an amazingly horrible person. Nya ha ha, or what have you.

Oh, and if you don't want to do things the way I've suggested, and would rather take your dietary theories out of a book? By all means do so. Just please remember that everyone else in the world doesn't need to be told that your favorite dietary theory is the One True Way for everyone...because it isn't, no matter how hard you want it to be. 
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
door to door evangelistI've been thinking quite a bit of late about the odd state of mind people get into when they evangelize. That's largely been driven by the behavior of some people over the last week on my blog, but of course this isn't the first time, or the thousand and first, that I've encountered it. 

I'm thinking among other things about a guy I knew, normally thoughtful and courteous, who got talked by his wife into taking the current version of EST with her. (I think it's called Landmark Forum now, but it's the same schtick.) When he finished the training, he immediately spammed all his friends, including me, with this four-screen-long email that sounded like an advertising flyer. I emailed him back to warn him that somebody had hacked his email and was using it for spam.

He responded saying, no, it was him, and he just wanted to share with everybody how wonderful the training had been. I expressed a lack of enthusiasm, and he responded with baffled hurt -- why, everybody he knew was treating him as though he'd just started preaching to them about Jesus. I explained to him that this was basically what he'd done...and he literally couldn't hear it. No, the slick four-screen sales pitch he'd dumped on all his friends was just him expressing his enthusiasm, and why were we all being so mean? (In case you're wondering, no, our friendship didn't survive this.)

There was a term for such a person back in the day: "esthole." There were a lot of them, and they had exactly the same odd blinkered attitude toward their actions: fifteen-minute-long sales pitches for EST on every conceivable occasion, to every conceivable person, was just ordinary enthusiasm for something really wonderful, and why did everyone react so badly to it? 

I got a corresponding situation over the last week on my blog, after posting something on the fallacy of insisting that a single diet or dietary theory was right for everyone. I was pleasantly surprised, I should note, by the way the vegans in my readership reacted to this; there were some raised hackles, to be sure, but I'd used veganism as an example in uncomplimentary ways, so by and large I didn't consider their reactions out of line. Nor did I field many long screeds about the evilly evil evilness of eating animal products. It seems possible, in fact, that the vegan movement may be getting over its awkward phase and achieving maturity, in which case it may be around for the long term. 

No, the estholes this time were the fans of Weston A. Price, a Cleveland dentist from the early 20th century who came up with an elaborate dietary theory based on his research into traditional diets. It was the same behavior pattern as with my esthole (former) friend: the long comments all circling back to encomia of Weston A. Price and his theories, the insistence that anybody who didn't join them in singing hallelujas to WAP was being unreasonably hostile, and so on, ending in a habit I particularly detest -- the WAPpers on the list having lengthy conversations solely with each other, in which they loudly praised each other for glorifying WAP and took pot shots at those of us who weren't on the WAPper bandwagon. So I declared the subject closed and started deleting attempted posts, and immediately fielded thank you notes from a flurry of other readers who were as bored with the WAP evangelism as I was. 

It's useful, mind you, to have advance warning of what the next big evangelical diet cult is likely to be, so I can systematically delete all attempts to proselytize for it on my blog, and take such other steps as one takes to deal with tiresome evangelists of every stripe. Still, it has me wondering: what is the state of mind that makes estholes and other evangelists so imperceptive? I suppose it's funny that somebody with Aspergers syndrome like me would be blinking in surprise at someone else's blindness to basic social courtesies, but there it is...
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