A Holiday Plea: Let’s Be Kinder on Facebook

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This is a guest blog post by Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD

All I want for Christmas is for people on Facebook to stop accusing each other of eating “chemicals”.

Lately, comments like “Sorry, but that muffin is full of chemicals” and “No offense, but do you know what kinds of chemicals are in those crackers?” are making me feel downright grinchy.

In fact, I’d love to declare a holiday moratorium on comments that start with “Sorry, but…” or “No offense, but…”

I’m not making this plea because the points aren’t sometimes valid. Artificial food dyes, flavors, and preservatives are chemicals. I get it.

I’m making this plea because these kinds of comments aren’t helpful. Nobody is ever going to change their mind or their habits because someone bullied them about it on Facebook (read: “Fear & Loathing on Facebook“).

So to these crabby commenters, I say this: If you happen upon a photo or status update and are tempted to inform the person that whatever they are about to eat (or God forbid already ingested!) is full of chemicals or is in some other way deadly, unless they are accidentally sipping on Windex, please reconsider. Here’s a handy holiday etiquette guide:

  • Someone posts a picture of their child’s lunch. Instead of saying: “I sure hope those strawberries are organic. Non-organic strawberries are drenched in chemicals!” You could say: “Those look delicious! The organic ones at my market have been terrific.”
  • Someone posts a picture of a snack in a baggie. Instead of saying: “No offense, but you must hate the Earth because you are slowly murdering the planet with those sandwich bags.” You could say: “I just got these reusable bags on Etsy and love them. Here’s the link if you’re interested.”
  • Someone writes about drinking their favorite holiday coffee beverage.  Instead of saying: “OMG, do you even KNOW what’s in that peppermint syrup?” You could say: “I started making my own peppermint mochas at home, here’s the recipe.”
  • Someone posts about feeding their kid fast food or a Lunchable or another food that you don’t approve of. Instead of saying: ”If you cared about your child’s health, you wouldn’t be feeding them that.” You could: scroll right past and not say anything at all.

Because after all, aren’t the holidays supposed to be full of good cheer? And maybe a cup of hot cocoa or two. Just not the Swiss Miss kind (I hear it’s full of chemicals).

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. She writes frequently about health and nutrition for consumer magazines such as Parents, Fitness, and Family Circle.

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  • WendiBird

    :) love it! Great article

  • Kimberphi

    Thank you! I feel the same way, Sally! “Play nice” everyone.

  • Team name

    This has nothing to do with eating better

    • kfay

      No, but it has to do with LIVING better. And I think for most people eating and living better are closely related. You can’t force other people to make better choices, but you can point them in the right direction. And being nice about it usually ends better than yelling at them. (Although I can’t honestly say I haven’t done both.)

  • Jennifer

    Those suggested comments actually seem pretty snarky as well. How about just saying nothing at all?

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      As a blogger with a Facebook page, I actually find it helpful when someone gives me a good idea/recipe/etc. if they disagree with something I post.

  • Peter Niepel

    Why should this be restricted to the holiday season? Shouldn’t this be common practice any time of the year?

  • http://www.marmalade.ca/ kellymelly

    Or you could resist temptation and not say anything. No one likes a know-it-all and those suggestions are a little condescending.

  • The Frugal Dietitian

    Very good!!!

  • tinkiunc37

    Right on!

  • karinaq

    I knew I shouldn’t have read this as soon as I saw the credential letters after the writer’s name. Spare me the pretentiousness.

    I don’t have a master’s degree, but still feel qualified to say that this “holiday etiquette guide” is outright stupid. All the author is doing here is encouraging people to transform their “bullying” into a more passive aggressive expression of their sense of superiority over the other person.

    How about this: these “crabby commenters” could keep their mouths shut and put their energy into some self-reflection about why they’re unable to mind their own goddamned business and why they would ever feel a need to pass judgment on another person based on a single choice that they posted on Facebook.

    And that remains true even if the person posts many things that you don’t approve of. None of us are perfect and none of us are the same. We all have to prioritize some choices over others. We all have different circumstances. And we all have different opinions about what is most important. And we all have a right to those opinions.

    If you want to share your mocha recipe or a link to your favorite reusable bag store, that’s great, but don’t do it in response to your friend or family member’s post about their “inferior” method/product/food choice.

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      But by your own logic, shouldn’t you have simply not said anything instead of passing judgement on me as being pretentious/passive aggressive/etc–and then put your energy into self reflection about why you are so angry?

      • karinaq

        Replying to an opinion piece is different than replying to a friend’s picture of her kid’s lunch. If a friend posts on Facebook that she is of the opinion that organic strawberries have no benefits over non-organic strawberries, then go ahead and argue the benefits with her. Judging an explicitly stated opinion is not the same as inferring an opinion or position or personal values based on a single choice that someone made and shared on Facebook.
        I did make an assumption about pretentiousness that I probably shouldn’t have because you cited your credentials, but the rest of what I wrote is based on what you actually said, which is different than assuming someone doesn’t care about the health of their kids or the planet or themselves because they served non-organic strawberries in a disposable bag.

        • Nat

          psh I don’t know how displaying your credentials can be considered pretentious…. if I go through an extra year of school or two I would be proud to cite mine…anyway, great job Sally!

    • Laura

      Call us once you get a master’s degree.

    • Sandra

      All I want to know is why the down button doesn’t work for me but the up one does. I’ve been trying to click the down button on your horrible comment but it’s not working. But of course I didn’t click the up arrow on your angry comment.