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What’s popular and what’s not

Remember the Atkins Diet? I do. I remember it because my mother put me on it when I was a pudgy teenager. She tried that diet and the 3-day diet on me as well. (That’s why I don’t like green beans!) Did I lose weight? Probably. Did I keep it off? Not at all. Were there other things she could have tried? Yes. But mom didn’t know better. She heard about these diets from friends and famous people and decided to try them herself and try them on me. Looking back, the times when I have lost the most weight and been the most healthy have been when I did the most exercise. Go figure.

I have a little under 400 “friends” on Facebook. I think that’s a manageable number. From time to time, I’ll go on there and do a purge. People I’ve never met in real life, people I’ve never talked to, and people who have decided that “immigrant” is a bad word get taken off the list. Lately, I’ve been thinking of striking off the militant vegans and vegetarians, the militant political activists, and the militants in general. I don’t like militancy.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my time on this planet is that there are very few absolutes. Even some of the laws of physics are subject to re-writing once in a while, so I find it annoying that there are people who are convinced that their way of living is the best way. The vegans read a post about me making burgers and criticize me for the damage to the environment caused by beef. The carnivores read that I gave tofu a try and all of a sudden I’m a “libtard.” The people who want Bernie Sanders to win threaten me with “un-friending” me if I dare post another thing about Hillary Clinton. And the Democratic activists in the bunch get all bent out of shape if I dare say that maybe we shouldn’t be spending so much money.

The weirdest thing is that their opinions — like mine — are subject to change based on what is popular and what is not. A ton of my militant vegan friends once had cookouts with burgers and hotdogs. The “crunchy granola” moms in the bunch were once irresponsible teenagers who couldn’t keep a gerbil alive, but now they’re experts on parenting? And the militant “conservatives” were once so far to the left that they were out of the frame of reference. (Once you start paying taxes, you kind of start to demand that they be better spent, I think.)

And that was the way with my mother. Whatever was popular would be the diet she’d try and have me try. She took me on a wild ride from one diet to another until I became independent. Even after that, she’d recommend this or that remedy, even a fungus tea that tasted like flavored urine.

That there's a fungal colony.

That there’s a fungal colony. (Image via Wikimedia Commons.)

I can’t fault mom for trying. She was obviously worried about my weight. And I can’t fault any of my friends for being militant in their beliefs. I get a little militant (okay, a lot) myself when it comes to vaccine-preventable diseases. Even the un-friending of people based on their militancy is a form of militancy on my part. We all just go with what’s popular and stay away from what’s not. We defend the popular ideas until there is a tipping point that makes us think again of why we’re fighting that particular fight, much like antivaxxers who decide to vaccinate once they see their child or a child die from a vaccine-preventable disease.

What I’m trying to say is that we all need to be a little more open-minded, even between friends. What is right for me may not be right for you, and I can’t fault you if you don’t want to try it. Likewise, what works great for you — like, yuck, fungus tea — may not be my cup of tea (no pun intended). The constant banging of a drum gets annoying after a while, no matter how well-intentioned your banging is. So, in opening your mind, also put yourself in the shoes of the people you preach to and demonize so much. You may find out that your truth is not an absolute, and that’s okay.

Now, back to my burger.

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René F. Najera, DrPH

I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.

3 replies

  1. Enjoy your burger, since I’ve returned home from abroad, I’ve found US beef to be tasteless.
    Of course, I also lack a sense of smell, so it’s all taste with me.

    As for what is popular, I tend to be less driven by what is popular and more by what makes sense.


    1. I wish I went with what makes sense all the time. Unfortunately, I still have much to learn about what makes sense and what doesn’t. There have been plenty of times — some recently — where I have been fooled into doing or saying something that went against my better judgment.


      1. I learned a long time ago, if it’s against my better judgement, it’s likely against my welfare.


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