We need to have a serious conversation. It’s about this old/new phenomenon called “Whataboutitis” Disorder. I’m tired of having conversations with people who need to be the victims all the time, especially when in the midst of discussions on oppression, institutional racism, and race in America.
What Is Whataboutitis?
Whataboutitis (pronounced What-about-itis) Disorder is a severe denial disorder in America which tends to be found mostly in people who have problems with accepting criticism and taking responsibility for actions that have caused harm to specific historically oppressed groups without power such as People of Color, minorities, the poor, the disabled, children, LGBTQ people, marginalized communities, Women of Color, Men of Color, or immigrants (legal or illegal) at the hands of… White people, White privilege, Patriarchy and/or White Supremacy.
No sooner than any of these topics come up on social media or here on Medium, people afflicted with Whataboutitis Disorder kick their denials, excuses, random, undocumented theories, and lies into high gear.
It never fails.
Who Is More Afflicted with This Disorder?
White men and invisible, nameless internet trolls, bots, and racists (a.k.a. keyboard warriors) seem to be afflicted more than any other group of people with the disorder. This disorder flares up in these groups when infected individuals are mentioned as predators and perpetrators of atrocities, past or present.
Topics which sets these individuals off include: Racism, Sex, Marriage Inequality, Child-Support, Alimony, Guns, the Second Amendment, the First Amendment (pertaining to hate speech or Black Lives Matter), Feminism, Equality of any kind sought for other people besides White ones, Hate Crimes, Trump, Slavery, the Confederacy and the Flag, White Men in Power, or other controversial past or current events in American History.
How Does It Occur?
Individuals affected with this Whataboutitis Disorder become offended as soon as transgressions committed by one of their preferred or favored topics are mention. They immediately feel upset for having their preferred group called out, which causes inflammation in their poor body/soul along along with confusion (and for some delusions) in their minds.
Said individuals immediately go from being an innocent bystander to protector of their respective group(s). Instantly, they become the victim.
Whataboutitis patients hear their associated groups being called aggressors, killers, joy stealers, rapist, power hungry men, racists, etc., and decide to take those things personally, feeling picked on and ashamed. In their fear and shame, like little kids, they decide to deflect and redirect. Taking responsibility, no matter how much the truth hurts, is a no-go.
It’s especially evident when women write about topics concerning men, and when People of Color (in particular Black people) write anything remotely about racism. These people get a case of chronic Whataboutitis. It think it’s flares up like gout.
They next phases of this disorder: gaslighting, denial, lies, and false allegations to make themselves feel good again. It will happen so fast your head will be spinning like that little girl possessed by Satan in that old movie “The Exorcist.” If you’re not paying attention, you won’t know what happened.
No matter what the subject is, these people manage to turn allegations and truths around (most times with illegitimate arguments) to change the topic and focus to suit their narratives. They must have their egos stroked. They have an innate need to prove themselves right, even when they are dead wrong! Oh yes, the also have a knack for misinterpreting what you meant when they read your work so they can say the stupid, irrelevant wrong shit they’ve been brainwashed to say.
Don’t let that stop you from speaking the truth. Just know, it’s apart of the inflammation process. The afflicted simply can’t help themselves. Because no one else will listen to their bullshit at home, at work, or in their family, they have to keep all their foolery inside of them. So when it finally does come out, it’s like diarrhea.
The bullshit just keeps coming out, nonstop, until it done!
Male Fragility, White Fragility, White Privilege, blindness, perhaps cataracts and/or mental illnesses often go hand in hand with Whataboutitis Disorder, and apparently, there is no cure for it.
The only four short-term remedies for Whataboutitis Disorder are: (1) rolling your eyes and ignoring the self-absorbed, narcissistic ramblings of the patient, (2) attempting to engage the patient by dispelling their mythical fantasies by dropping concrete evidence and knowledge on their heads which runs the risk of further injuring their fragility, (3) allowing them to vent and cry so that they aid in validating the original point you were attempting to make (on rare occasions these individuals do make valid points, just at the wrong times), or (4) either ignoring or blocking them after attempting options 1 thru 3 after they have gotten so far out of hand. This protects your own mental health and personal safety.
Your chosen method of addressing people with Whataboutitis Disorder will depend upon the afflicted person’s personality. Engage them wisely.
Also, of note, not everyone with the disorder has an official diagnosis. Use the guide above to determine whether the person you’re engaging with is possibly affected by the disorder.
Some of these people are clearly on psych drugs, or perhaps should be on some, (Vote for universal healthcare people), so a portion of what they say will make no sense at all. At other times, some patients will have short, snarky comments, no real names, rarely if ever real faces on their profiles, and if you review their comment histories, they engage the same topics the same way. Persons with Whataboutitis are as predictable as clocks.
Other times, persons with Whataboutitis are simply passionate advocates for their cause and don’t realize they have this disease. You’ll need to tell them. Like literally every single time you see these types exhibiting the disorder. Show them the error of their ways so that they can decide what to do about themselves and their behavior. Saving screen shots also helps.
You must have evidence people. We need evidence to fight this battle against Whataboutitis!
The last group of people falling into the Whataboutitis Disorder category will never be able to be convinced they are not only wrong and that they have reversed roles now playing the victim no matter how much proof you offer them.
Just stop engaging them and go on about your life. Blocking them helps too. He/she is not worth the time.
Whataboutitis Disorder is very annoying for people without the disorder attempting to discuss serious topics, especially topics where people have been harmed or are currently living under duress in America. Discussions are challenging because the afflicted tend to get off topic (most times) or distract from the real issues. Usually, those afflicted with Whataboutitis are never in harm’s way. They are always a part of the group in power and covered by privilege (White, White female, rich, political group, patriarchy, etc.).
Let’s Get Serious About Whataboutitis
Why is it that when we are talking about issues of race and the offenders are White people, some of you can’t absorb truth? Instead you deflect by responding… “What about… (and sometimes it’s “How about” …?).
Why can’t you listen? Why can’t you hear? Why are some of you so fragile, we can’t tell you about just how horrible some of you guys and gals are at times to us without you deflecting to get the evilness off the White people, as if we’re talking about your mother? Why can’t we talk about America’s not so good history, the inequality, and the institutional racism without it being a contest for who has it worse?
Turning into malignant narcissist every time an uncomfortable topic comes up isn’t going to make the truth become a lie. America isn’t all bad. But America isn’t all good either. America has never been great for all its people, and we need to admit that.
We also need to acknowledge that racism is complex, meaning even people of color participate in the social construct experiment here in America by assimilating seeking approval of Whiteness, passing and forsaking your own Blackness or Brownness, denying the realities that other minority groups are indeed oppressed and harassed, and participating in racism altogether by siding with the oppressors against other oppressed groups in order to maintain ones personal status, position, wealth, and position gained in society.
In such cases, Whataboutitis is appropriate and should be a welcomed dialogue.
Whataboutitis is Very Unbecoming
Whataboutitis is getting old, it’s not a good look, and this really needs to be acknowledged and unpacked. It’s getting bad as of late. Your disorder isn’t going unnoticed, especially if you live on social media expressing your always opposing or dissenting views. Can you see to agree with people who may have opposing views sometimes? Geez!
Everything doesn’t have to be about your people every time.
Am I Describing You?
Have you discovered yourself in this essay…then cut that shit out!
You’re out here looking like a weak wuss without a legitimate argument. You can’t always explain your way out of everything or protect your group, your people, your race, or your sex. Sometimes the facts are just plain indefensible. And that’s ok.
Learn. To. Own. Your. Group’s. Shit!
Admit truths and move on. It’s so much easier than trying to argue with indisputable truths.
Whataboutitis Disorder won’t save you. Ever.
Even if you’re smart, using your bigly words, went to the best schools, and have the greatest-biggest vocabulary, using What about in topics discussed previously cancels all that superiority shit out you’re trying to flex.
All you’ve done is just played yourself when you display Whataboutitis, especially when used without legitimate “cited” facts or concrete evidence to back up your role reversing victimization. We’re not believing fake victimizations anymore. It’s gone out of style, and it’s putting lives at risk.
Whataboutitis just makes dialogues worse. You can go ahead and test the waters if you like but do so at your own risk. Just remember once it’s in the atmosphere, you can’t take it back.
The Experts in Diagnosing Whataboutitis Disorder
Most People of Color are accustomed to people with Whataboutitis Disorder. We can’t hardly make a statement about anything unfair or unjust concerning America’s systems and institutions or racism without at least one person presenting in fully inflamed Whataboutitis Disorder (in-person and/or online). We feel the need to put an APB (All points bulletin) out to the masses to make everyone aware of the issue so to deter those with the disorder from coming into comment sections with that bullshit.
For those willing to acknowledge you have this disorder, we are here to help you through the process. It takes time to change your habits, and there are some nice women of all colors who will work with you to do the work. If you’d like to post sites below to aid those with the disorder, please do so. Each one teach some is my philosophy. There is enough work for everyone to get some.
But for those who are ready to test and try us with your “What abouts?” Come at your own risk. We are living in an hour where lies are attempting to erase truth, and certain people. We aren’t having it. Truth tellers, allies, and light shiners are ready to set you straight with knowledge. We are also ready to acknowledge gaps in our arguments, or right our wrongs when necessary.
Don’t allow this debilitating disorder, Whataboutitis, control you. Be open, be humble, be willing to read and seek knowledge.
Knowledge, truth and light awaits you.
Marley K., 2018
Your comments and thoughts are welcomed.