"Paranoid," an Unkind Word #general

Steve Axelrath <saxelrat@...>

I am sad to see that some who contribute to the JewishGen
Discussion Group use the word "paranoid" to describe those who are
fearful of possible negative consequences of having their family
information accessible to all through the Internet. Used by the lay
person, "paranoid" is an unkind word which pejoratively describes
someone one thinks is excessively fearful. Using "paranoid" shifts ones
disagreement towards the personality of the "paranoid" person, rather
than focusing on his ideas with which one disagrees.
"Paranoid" is not only an unkind word, it is typically inaccurate.
We all have different life experiences, and so we --legitimately-- have
different fears. I've friends who have been raped whose fears are very
different >from mine. Are they "paranoid"? Would we call a holocaust
survivor who was afraid to share his family's information on the
Internet "paranoid," or would we say his fear is very understandable?
How many non-"paranoid" Jews stayed in Europe and were slaughtered while
their "paranoid" neighbors fled and lived? How different contemporary
Jewish life would be had all of the 6,000,000 been "paranoid."
Unless you're talking about truly mentally ill people, calling
someone "paranoid" merely says that his fears are different >from yours,
and so you've chosen to believe that there's something wrong with him.
I do understand that family data spread over the Internet will be
accessible to all. I do know that we will all have to learn to live
with that risk. But it is unkind and inaccurate to unthinkingly label
people who are afraid of something which does not frighten us=85

Steve Axelrath
Littleton, Colorado

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