April 13, 2011


I have a sad story to tell today.

When I checked my emails as usual this morning, there were as always a bunch from Facebook, but one which was from Facebook - Facebook.. I nearly binned it as spam but luckily hesitated, for it was a notice that a new Facebook page of which I am co-administrator - so new that I haven't even linked it here yet - had been suspended.

The email told me that a third party had alleged we had infringed their intellectual property rights.

Clearly, we have done no such thing.  The new page in question is an offshoot of a forum I co-administer, blenderizeddiet.net and had in 4 days gained something like 126 members.  It was called, as you might guess, Blenderized Diet, and had as its tagline 'real food for real people' a version of an old saying coined by our site's founder many years ago.  Suddenly, these many people very excited to have a communication and connection nexus that suited them - not everyone likes the forum or blog thing - were extremely upset. As was I and my cohorts.

Facebook does not name the third party, but sadly our thoughts immediately identified a prime suspect.  This person has been making life difficult and saying erroneous and hurtful things about one of my colleagues and previously made a huge fuss about owning the concept or term 'blenderized diet'.  They were most upset when my colleague purchased the freely available, never-before-registered domain name blenderizeddiet.net, as this person owns a similar domain name.

'Blenderized diet' is a term in common usage both in the medical community and the wider community, most especially in the tube feeding circle. A Google search just then revealed 41,600 returns.  We use it because people know what it means.  It needs to be said that no material on the site is sourced from any copyright or trademark protected source.  Categorically, no person's IP rights have been infringed in any way whatsoever. How much could one do in just 4 days anyway?

Naturally, we must assume a person innocent until shown to be otherwise.  The suspected person in question has been asked directly a number of times and has yet to reply to most of those questions and has declined to comment on the matter in the one instance I know of where a response was had at all.  But still, refusal to deny does not a confirmation make, and it could be a rogue person with a grudge or even a corporate agent seeking to nip in the bud what might well be a powerful movement away from the mass purchasing of their products, as happens now.  A flattering thought, yes, and really quite unlikely.  Occam's Razor, and all that.

The sad part is all the innocent bystanders.  The page was acclaimed and lauded instantly and had already made a positive difference to quite a few people - it doesn't take much sometimes!  They have had their new support rug pulled from under their feet.  If it is this main 'suspect', then the irony is profound.  This is a person who started their own groups and their own practice in reaching out and helping others, advocating for real food for tube feeding.  And they may have just acted selfishly, destructively, and ultimately to their own detriment.  Word travels, people make their own mind up, and usually those who clothe their ill intentions in supposedly good works are always found out in the end.

In the end, I trust that this will make the tube feeding support community stronger, more committed to inclusiveness and sharing, and foster a move forward into a way that eschews petty personal power politics, and focuses on what each of us can do to help one another, and to accept help.

Maybe that's what this complainant - whoever she or he is, needs - our compassion and help.  Sometimes of course, the only compassionate way forward with a member behaving damagingly to the herd is to ostracize.  I hope it doesn't have to come to that.

Be strong, love your communities, and help lovingly expose those who would destroy good works to the light of full disclosure.  Nothing disinfects like sunshine.


1 comment:

  1. I agree it's so frustrating that something meant to help and support people is turning into something that is tearing people apart. I agree that we have to be careful not to point fingers and cause additional hurt, but it is difficult not to make assumptions based on the public actions of certain individuals. I ended up opting to leave a particular online community because I was so frustrated by things the founder was doing, and now I feel like this founder is following me to my FTA community on FB, and causing drama there (which she has tried to do on a few occasions). I do not actually use the term "Blenderized Diet" myself, I say "Blended Diet" (the extra syllable is just too much work I guess), and it bothers me that someone might imply that they own the way my daughter eats by claiming it's Intellectual Property. I desperately hope these differences can be overcome, and the division of a community of people who need each other is put to a stop.