The anarchy of the internet

Not infrequently, I hear from eating disorder treatment providers grousing about something unpleasant posted about them on the Internet. Sometimes those comments are on the ATDT forum, and I'm asked to remove or edit them. (I don't.) I believe in the anarchy of the Internet. I believe in the value of consumer free speech - and even the freedom to say things that aren't fair or even true because it is only in that environment that consumers can actually ever hear real opinions, too. Yes, "consumers." In the US, treatment is provided in a marketplace where supply and demand play an important role. Even in other systems, like the UK's NHS, families need to be alerted to the context of their care.

When people complain about scurrilous critiques I can tell them I feel their pain. I don't control my Amazon reviews or the ugly misinterpretations of what I've done and said that Google can easily find. This is the real world, and the price of having an opinion. It doesn't bother me. It teaches me, actually, and helps me form responses to certain arguments. Live by the sword (of public attention), die by the sword. The opportunity to have real people give their honest good opinion comes with a downside. Most people have become savvy about the Internet and put all information in context. Most are aware of the nature of online reviews: J-shaped, and biased at the extremes.Still, an open, uncontrollable conversation, often anonymous, and often much meaner that one would ever be in person - is new. It's not familiar, and it can be frightening.

The backlash begins, insidiously enough, at our doctor's office: Doctors and dentists tell patients, "all your review are belong to us":

"censoring patients is the wrong way for doctors to deal with online criticism"


  1. Dearest Laura,
    I treasure your commitment to truth and open, frank information, conversation and even debate. In a world where it takes so much work and effort to obtain facts and truth, you work to maintain a clear path for us to search. I believe I am capable of listening to people's experiences and clarifying my understanding with both professionals and fellow consumers. Things are changing and I believe it is people like you that are an important cogbin that wheel!

  2. Aw! Thank you. We're all doing it together, and man does that feel good!


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