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“It’s not all nice and fun”: Narrating contested illness on YouTube and Instagram, 2021, Groenevelt

Discussion in 'Other psychosomatic news and research' started by Dolphin, May 29, 2021.

  1. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member (Voting Rights)


    Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine

    “It’s not all nice and fun”: Narrating contested illness on YouTube and Instagram

    Irene Groenevelt[​IMG]
    First Published May 25, 2021 Research Article

    This empirical study draws on insights from narrative theory to tease out how women with a contested illness narrate their experiences on social media. Based on 13 months of online observations between 2017 and 2019, I analyse how a sample of eight highly active Dutch female social media users share their illness on YouTube and Instagram. In addition, I interviewed five of them. Through their online performances, the women in this study illustrate their investment in self-care practices, whilst simultaneously laying bare the limits of these practices in ensuring permanent well-being. Central to transmitting their experiences is the performance of balanced positivity; meaning that illness is dealt with in a predominantly ‘positive’ way, as well as through the occasional display of (moments of) hardship. I identify three main aspects of this performance of balanced positivity, namely: (1) appearances, (2) mindset, and (3) presence. The practice of balanced positivity is congruent with the concept of legitimacy narratives, because it allows women with a contested illness to show their efforts to cope with their condition as well as the myriad challenges that remain despite these efforts.

    Keywords balanced positivity, contested illness, moral legitimacy, online ethnography, self-care practices, social media
    Arnie Pye, DokaGirl, Michelle and 2 others like this.
  2. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I understand the need to be positive about the way certain things are. I do.

    The world isn't entirely positive nor negative and balance in all things etc, etc and so forth.

    However, sometimes I feel that I & others with chronic health problems feel under some sort of obligation to demonstrate that I have a positive attitude, that those who don't are somehow not coping well and that seems to bring with it some sort of moral judgement.

    I happen to have ME. I also happen to have not especially good eye sight. I have limited control over either. All I can do is pace myself or, in the case of eyesight, wear my glasses to avoid excruciating headaches.

    Lets focus on my eyesight (pardon). It was the bane of my youth. I played sport and it caused difficulties because in those days the lenses were a)expensive, b)heavy, c)made of glass. So I couldn't wear them when playing matches. Did I have to show a positive attitude? No. Did I have to make a show of the fact I was making the best of it? No.

    So why do I sometimes feel that society expects me to make a show of how much I am helping myself with my coping and positive attitude? It won't cure my ME.

    Sometimes positivity makes me feel really negative and I want to just stick to fingers up at society, quite frankly.
  3. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Of all the things to focus on with this topic, this is a bizarre one. This obsession with the trivial aspects of illness is absurd considering all the important ones are completely ignored. It serves absolutely no purpose.
    EzzieD, Arnie Pye, Louie41 and 10 others like this.
  4. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

    Aotearoa New Zealand
    From the bit of the paper I read, the author isn't saying we have to be positive. It's mostly just that people talking about their chronic illnesses on YouTube try to make themselves look nice so they aren't judged harshly. I'd argue that that is true for most people regardless of whether they have a chronic illness, and certainly most women.

    While the paper might be stating an obvious truth, and while we might greatly prefer research that seeks to find the cause of our illness, the author presents some interesting ideas (again, that's based on the small bit of the paper I have read) and seems to be on the side of those with chronic illness.

  5. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    It's society's & our own expectations as people with chronic health conditions that frustrate me. It can often be self defeating.

    On more than one occasion I witnessed relatives of my mine who had been horribly unwell downplaying just how badly they were suffering to the doctor. This despite the fact I was putting myself out quite considerably to help care for them. Their understating & being unduly positive gave a very misleading picture that affected their medical care and made life much harder for them and me.

    The idea of a person taking responsibility for health and wellbeing and being seen to do so is all very well when you're starting from the perspective of a healthy individual who can choose to optimise their chances of staying that way.

    Unfortunately, sooner or later, most will get sick at some point, or age, and eventually die. It is very easy for society (including the chronically ill & especially those with contested illnesses) to place the responsibility of becoming sick on those who have become ill through no fault of their own. The assumption of being responsible for one's poor health and the inherent implication that significant improvement is usually within the ill person's control can quickly become toxic for the chronically ill person.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't manage our condition to the best of our ability, mind. Most of us will do so automatically, either because we need to be able to look after ourselves or because we want to minimise the burden of care on our loved ones.

    In an age where we are increasingly aware of recognising, accepting and learning to understand differences - in sexuality,sexual identity, race, culture and so forth is it not time to teach people to understand an even more common difference that of chronic ill health?

    Would we be better served as a society if we stopped looking at health purely from the perspective of the healthy & abled but learned to see it from the perspective of those who impaired health. Perhaps that could lead to a greater integration & inclusion between people with disabilities or impairments, the chronically ill and those who have the luxury of health?

    Would it teach more people to treasure and look after their good health and make society more supportive for those who find themselves adjusting to a life with a chronic illness in such a way that losses in their lives can be minimised (financial, relationships etc)?
  6. Arnie Pye

    Arnie Pye Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I may be going off at a tangent slightly...

    Some societies and cultures don't recognise the concept of depression at all, and certainly don't have a word for the problem.

    Not a very good link, sorry :

    Title : A Look at Depression Around the World

    Subtitle : How depression is viewed in different countries can teach us a lot about the disease and its treatment.

    Link : https://health.usnews.com/health-ca...7-07-07/a-look-at-depression-around-the-world

    Date : 7th July 2017

    What annoys me about this article is that it doesn't make a single mention of anyone being interested in finding the cause of this global depression, and nor does anyone attempt to treat it other than with anti-depressants, exercise and CBT. See this paragraph, which explicitly mentions the NHS - and comes out with some nonsense in the process :

    Snow Leopard and Peter Trewhitt like this.
  7. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    We often see papers here looking at depression as at least a comorbidity with chronic ill health. It seems the NHS and government/healthcare services elsewhere are prepared to spend significant sums of money on address supposed mental health needs of those who are chronically ill.

    However, as we discussed elsewhere on the forum, in all likelihood they would get much better value for money if they invested in better support for the chronically ill. Support in terms of adjustment to becoming ill, tools and services needed to manage the illnesses as effectively as possible and so forth. Especially as prevention is supposedly better than cure then why not take this approach to mental health too.

    In addition to the adjustment and isolation faced by many chronically ill, even those with chronic health problems who can still participate fully in society face a more subtle type of discrimination. Something that has struck me during the pandemic is the number of people calling for the elderly and clinically vulnerable to be isolated while they carry on with their lives. The precautions seen as an unnecessary punishment on them. The flip side being it's okay to "punish" the sick and elderly, even though these groups are probably more likely to take more precautions.

    There's also the assumption that the chronically ill are "other" and don't impinge on the lives of the healthy. Yet many of the chronically ill hold down jobs. The person that some people would cheerfully have isolate indefinitely might be someone they rely on - their boss, doctor, child's teacher, parents carer, bus driver and so forth.

    This "othering" or idea that one could and maybe should separate those out with poor health ignores the contributions that those with poor health make to society & contribute to the economy. I feel this is inherent in our society & most people are unaware of it. Then when their time comes and they need and seek support to find it's not available and they're considered somehow not worthy of it it a massive shock and adds an unnecessary mental health burden to the identity crisis faced when a person becomes chronically ill.
    Simbindi, Snow Leopard, shak8 and 4 others like this.

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