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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Awkward Lesson in Weird Facebook Etiquette

This is a blog that might make you laugh, though I'm not laughing as a write it.

Famous woman who I follow on Facebook (laugh here, roll your eyes) posts link to great article about factory farming, contamination and human health. I read it (duh). I like it. I cross post it to my followers.

In the article, I run across an error of sorts -- salmonella poisoning, while totally horrible and frequent enough to affect over a million Americans a year -- is actually hard to get, though the article suggests otherwise.

Why do I know this? Well, my sister (the doc) used to work in infectious diseases. And, last weekend, at her house, the kids were making a cake together and they started eating the batter. I got worried and mentioned salmonella, to which my sister said, "Actually, you have to consume SO MANY salmonella bacteria to get sick that it's one of the infections that we doctors don't worry too much about; it's actually kinda hard to get sick from eating a little raw egg. We hardly ever see anybody in the ER with salmonella poisoning, at least hardly ever due to raw eggs." OK, great. I stopped worrying and the kids ate leftover batter and nobody got sick.

Well, the article said that you could get sick by eating as few as 15-20 bacteria. Given my recent conversation with my sister, I thought that made it sound like salmonella was really EASY to get. So, I called her and told her what the article said.

Her response: "That is true of shigella, but not salmonella." She couldn't stay on the phone, but she said she'd call me later with the data; she thought you needed somewhere in the vicinity of at least 20-30 THOUSAND to get sick.

So, not wanting to wait, I went online and found the following information: "It is commonly accepted that between 1 million to 1 billion bacteria are needed to cause infection although some investigators suggest some people may be infected by far fewer bacteria" (Medicinenet.com/salmonella/page2).

(Aside: For the record,factory farming is horrible and the article in today's Huffington Post SHOULD convince you that conditions of factory farming lead to disease in animals and directly contribute to human illness. But the details about salmonella poisoning are a bit off.)

So...I went back to the original poster and commented that while the article is EXCELLENT, there is a small error. I went on to explain. I was very polite and to the point. Unlike this blog, I didn't go on and on... You can laugh again here.

She deleted my comments!

I'm totally offended. (Go ahead and laugh again -- why should I care that she deleted my comments? Right??!! Who the hell cares? It's Facebook!? Stupid Facebook!!)

In her defense, she doesn't know me. She probably thinks I'm some quack or a troublemaker. She may think any "follower" who bothers to question what she posts shouldn't follow her. Or, perhaps she's tight with the author of the Huffington Post article and doesn't want somebody challenging her. Whatever.

I'm slowly learning an unwritten rule of following the famous and semi-famous: You're supposed to AGREE with everything they do. To try to engage in a conversation -- even in a friendly way -- isn't really what they're after. They want adherents, not challengers. They want converts, not conversations.

And, honestly, I use Facebook for conversations. I've learned -- again -- only to have those with people who want the same.

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Politeness is always appreciated.