I’m writing this post with a swirl of emotions (swirl? really Dude??). I’m gonna try to make it quick. Not sure how it’s gonna play out. I know I’ll get some hate (I mean…more hate) but here goes.
Oh…first let me say this is not about having advertising on your site or doing some affiliate marketing for products that are GOOD for the community. If you are HELPING the community and making some dinero on the side, more power to you. Hell…after 5 years of blogging and spending A LOT of time and money, I finally allowed some ads on my site (from companies I believed in) to help cover some of my costs. Of course, now I’m damaged goods it seems and most of my advertisers have pulled out (that’s what she said.)
I’m disheartened. I’m disappointed. I’m disillusioned.
Why? Because too many of the big voices in our community are selling out to the harm of the celiac community.
I was not going to say anything. I was going to just keep seething on the inside and doing my thing. But the more time went on, and the more examples of selling out I saw, and the more people that contacted me privately upset about it too, the more I decided I gotta let it out before I burst.
How are people selling out to detriment of our community? So glad you asked. Here are some recent examples. And mind you, these are not bad people. This is not a personal attack. At all. I just think they’re making really poor (and sometimes dangerous) decisions to line their pockets.
Case in point: The Celiac Disease Foundation, the self-described “nation’s public voice for celiac disease”, has their logo on every box of gluten-free Cheerios, even though people continue to get sick on them and General Mills’ testing methods are atrocious. GM is their biggest sponsor. The CDF was promoting them before the product even came out. Who does this help? Not the community. I talked about this recently here.
Case in point: Celiac.com. The site that I first went on when I was diagnosed and connected with my fellow celiacs; the site that is the starting point for many celiacs; the site that still has a large audience; the site that detests me. Yes…that site. How? Let me count the ways:
- Just look at THIS. Remember when I said having some ads is cool? This is not cool. First of all…the prices. Whoa! And secondly…PAID REVIEWS? How can you possibly do an honest review when you are getting paid for it? (Hint: you can’t).
- And how about this post titled “How GliadinX Saved My Mom on Thanksgiving”. What’s GliadinX? It’s the same bullshit product as GlutenEase or Gluten Cutter (read this) or Glutenaid or GlutenCheater or GlutenGlutton. Ok…I made those last two up. So his mom ate the wrong pie but THANK GOD there was GliadinX in the house. She took some and BOOM she was just fine. So go ahead celiacs, not need to be so careful. GliadinX will save the day. Oh…what’s that? GliadinX is a main advertiser on their site? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence!
- And don’t even get me started on their love affair with General Mills. How about this headine: Are Cheerios Really “Not Safe For Celiacs?” Or is General Mills Getting a Bad Rap?. Or “Is the Canadian Celiac Association Spreading Fear and Misinformation About Gluten Free Cheerios?”
- I was going to say more but since I just threw up in my mouth a little, I’m moving on.
Case in point: A popular celiac, with almost 90,000 social media followers, recently posted a picture of herself promoting Omission beer. Omission is not gluten-free and has been discussed on this site many, many times. Omission is not safe for the celiac community. When I commented that Omission was not safe, she deleted my comment. When I asked her privately and politely on Twitter to help me understand why she would promote a product that is not safe, she ignored me. When I asked her to just be honest and let her community know that all of her IG posts are sponsored, she accused me of stalking her. Nice.
Case in point: Promotion of the Nima Sensor. It’s gotten out of hand. The Nima Sensor may or may not be accurate. From the research I have done, there seems to be A LOT of false positives. On top of that, no third-party validation of their results have been released. So let’s just say, celiacs should have a “wait on see” approach on this one. But f**k that when there’s money to be made. I have seen more sponsored posts from celiac bloggers saying “Yay! [Random food item] came back negative on the Nima so I can definitely eat this and you can too!!!” No. NO NO NO. That is not what it means. Even the people at Nima don’t say that. It is NOT an end-all-be-all tool and should NEVER be promoted that way. But hey…gotta pay the bills I guess.
I’ve got a lot more cases in points (case in points? cases of points??), but you get the gist. Plus…I’ve got to go get a haircut. Which reminds me of the worst joke I have ever heard, from my 10th grade science teacher.
Me: Mr. Smith…did you get a haircut?
Mr Smith: No…I got them all cut.
So yeah…I’m beyond frustrated. There is already enough misinformation out there. There is already enough jokes at the expense of our community. There is already so little attention given to the DISEASE because we tend to only focus on the damn food.
(“Did you know that having celiac disease increases your risk of cancer? Yeah…but did you hear they have gluten-free Twinkies now??)
So what do I say to my fellow advocates? If you are doing something JUST for the money, you may not be helping the celiac community. If more than half of your posts are sponsored posts, you may not be helping the celiac community. If you are in bed with companies whose practices are suspect, you may not be helping the community. Every advocate’s position should be “community first”. But for too many, it’s not. And that saddens me. Celiac is a serious autoimmune disease. It’s not a career choice.
This begets the question (begets? who AM I today??), what do I do?
Well…my 2018 goal is to be MUCH happier (and become an astronaut) so I can just stop being Gluten Dude, which will relieve me of a lot of frustration. I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. If I’m getting more frustration with others than pleasure out of what I’m doing, well…maybe it’s time to just hang up the high heels…I mean the cleats. I spend so much time on this site, on social media, replying to tons of private emails, all to help the community. And damn…I do love it. But I simply cannot watch everyone else around me cash out on their disease, while I’m an idiot over here just trying to help people.
Or I can just keep doing my thing and try my best to ignore all of the BS that goes on in our community. But I’m not good at ignoring BS. I’m a passionate guy and ignoring BS goes against my genetic makeup.
(My god…I said this would be a quick post. Is it still Friday?)
I’m gonna try to find a middle ground. I wanna keep helping people. I really do. It gives me true pleasure helping others. And I am going to stop following people on social media who are driving me crazy. I’m sure I’ll still get frustrated, but perhaps not as much. If I can find the balance…awesome. If not…well let’s just wait and see.
Many thanks, as always, for listening.