Dear Ms. Meniscus:What to do about an online ‘Mary Quite Contrary’

There’s an online support group for those with arthritis that I enjoy except for one person who makes my life miserable by always disagreeing with everything I say. I’m not sure what to do. Ignore her comments? Try to  be nice? Tell her she doesn’t know what she is talking about?

Eve in Florida


Dear Eve:

You could do all of the above but that won’t necessarily make your life better. What would help is if you can figure out why her disagreements affect you to the point you feel miserable.

Do you hate disagreement for the sake of it? Some of us don’t like being disagreed with, but a good discussion often includes alternate points of view that can enlarge our perspective, yet in the heat of the moment we can’t see or hear that other point someone is trying to make if we’re wound up with being right all of the time. If she disagrees with medical facts, that may be another story. You could ask others in the group for their opinions/thoughts regarding a particular medical matter.

It’s always tempting to tell someone that they don’t know what they’re talking about but the only satisfaction you’ll get is a momentary catharsis. Afterwards you’d feel childish and wished you had expressed yourself with less emotion.

So if you’ve gotten Madame’s drift here, you need to figure out what’s bothering you about her constant disagreement. If she’s a dominating “know-it-none” then perhaps it would behoove you to ignore her comments. You are under no obligation to respond to everything and anything she says.

The most important thing to remember is that the point of the group is to provide support and constructive dialogue and if she’s too aggressive then ask her to politely reframe her commentary more positively.

Good luck with Mistress Mary Quite Contrary, my dear Eve.