Low Carb Nerds, Nazis, Geeks and Newbies

Over the years I’ve noticed patterns in the low carb dialogs on my site as well as others, and some of it is great – perceptive and enlightening.

Others – not so great.

I got to thinking about this when reading a post on ‘low carb Nazis’, the link to which I promptly lost. Ugh.

Anyway, first, let’s put aside the justified criticism of the use of the word ‘Nazi’ here. I know many people are offended that the word ‘Nazi’ is linked with things like ‘food’, ‘feminism’, or ‘soup’. They think it trivializes the atrocities that the real Nazis did in the last century. They can be very militant about it – I suppose we can call them ‘Nazi’-Nazis, but they wouldn’t be happy about that.

The fact is, you can’t control language. If that were possible, I would first banish the word ‘blog’ as it’s about the ugliest word coined in the past 100 years.

But there’s more than just the low carb Nazis out there. There are multiple groups that each interact and sometimes learn from one another, and sometimes are angered by one another – or haven’t a clue what the other groups are talking about.

Below I’ve arbitrarily identified four groups, not that there aren’t more, and not that these are even correct of fair. You make that judgement – I’m not going to be a Nazi about this.

The Nazi

These people seem to have a very clear view of right and wrong. They don’t feel it is necessary to discuss or debate – their conclusions are solid, the path is clear, and anyone who doesn’t agree with them is in for a smackdown. Robert Atkins was like this. He was nice about it, in a doctor’s all-knowing, condescending way. Anthony Colpo is also like this. Matt Stone is also like this to some degree, but I’ve corresponded with Matt Stone – he’s a nice fellow and he is still learning and experimenting. While he’s pretty adamant in his derision for the Atkins diet – creating a diet plan called FUDA (short for ‘F__K you Dr Atkins’) and referring to the late doctor as ‘Fatkins’, I give him a pass on these things.

Anthony Colpo is seriously cranky. Smart as a whip, and given what great shape he’s in, he’s a living tribute to the fact that a low carb diet is a very healthy for some people. It’s just that he sees the world in black and white. With posts like ‘The Great Eades Smackdown‘, for him, there appears to be One Right Way – and it just happens to be his way.

To give you a taste of Anthony’s style, here is an excerpt from his email newsletter:

CORRESPONDENCE POLICY – PLEASE READ BEFORE EMAILING

Comments and questions from readers are always welcome, but due to time constraints a response cannot be guaranteed. If you find lack of response to your correspondence offensive, please don’t write. Emails with offensive, argumentative, hostile or imbecilic content will be ignored.

I’d be scared to write Anthony Colpo – he’s probably bitchslap me in his reply – if he’d even reply to a human pissant like me.

I like all four of these fellows – Dr. Eades as well, though I don’t see him as a Nazi nor do I follow his plan. I learn from each of them, but I don’t want to choose sides.

Nerds

Nerds are also quite sure of themselves – sometimes. The trap that they fall into sometimes is expecting everyone to understand what they are saying. For them, there’s no way you can do low carb without understanding the whys. They tend to give too much information, thinking people are as engrossed in the topic as much as they are, and seem to miss the point that you must fine-tune your message for your audience.

They spew out information like a firehose, and when they glaze over their victim, they think their victim is stupid.

Geeks

Geeks are obsessed with particular aspects of low carb. They zero in on a particular topic and learn everything – all the other aspects of the low carb – psychological, cultural, practical, financial, spiritual, don’t exist. They’re the ones that rail about the horrors of grain-fed beef, or the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratios – in every response to every post, even if the post has only a tenuous connection to their particular obsession.

Sort of like Amway people tend to look for any opportunity to weave their ‘business’ into the most casual conversation.

Newbies

Newbies – those folks who have just learned about low carb and would like to learn more are frequently put off by these folks – unless they themselves have in them the makings of a Nazi, a Nerd, or a Geek. Most likely they start a low carb diet – a lonely task for a lot of us, hit a bump in the road, and post a simple question to a forum.

They sometimes don’t get a simple answer.

The Nazis tell newbies that they must follow a set of rules that they devised or follow, maybe eat organic and avoid Omega-6 fats, or whatever their Nazism is based upon. Even if it’s not part of the problem the poster asked about – it IS the problem to the Nazi. Haven’t lost weight? You’re not following my rules! Simple as that. Eating ham? Has nitrates? Bad. Like Atkins bars? They’re crap – that’s your problem. Can’t afford pricy organics? You’re screwed – and until you come around to their way of thinking, don’t waste their time.

Nerds are friendlier and less black-and-white in their thinking. What they do is ‘love bomb’ the newbie into a stupor of links on 17 different topics covering every aspect and tell them: take a look at this stuff and you’ll understand. Make no mistake – they are trying to help, but the sheer mass of complex info they expect the newbie to take in almost guarantees that the newbie will be even more confused and frustrated than before.

Geeks are friendly and helpful as well. What they do differently than the nerds is to provide you with 17 different links on the same topic – enough to make you a friggin PhD in the subject.

They are the experts – and remember: one definition of an expert is knowing more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing.

Again the newbie feels about as stunned as a  clubbed baby seal and slinks away, feeling overwhelmed and stupid.

I’m certainly not a newbie anymore, but when I was, I felt these things when I posted questions.

I think I started off this blog as a Nazi, but have mellowed to nerditude – with occasion dalliances into geekdom.

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2 thoughts on “Low Carb Nerds, Nazis, Geeks and Newbies

  1. LOVE this post.

    I gave up on forums altogether a while back because of the “Nazis”. I kept feeling shamed for eating certain foods. And watching other people (especially “newbies”) get shamed was even more infuriating.

    The other problem was getting yelled at and getting posts deleted by mods for mentioning things that could be considered triggering. And while I get that, I sort of feel like I need the freedom to be able to mention a particular food by name every now and then if I’m explaining what type of craving I’m having or what a certain low carb substitute tastes like. That’s why I like blogging and blogs soooo much more. I feel like I learn more from them and the conversation in comments is much friendlier. Even though there are plenty of wonderful people in forums. It’s just that a few ruin it for everyone else.

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