How the internet presents information helps to shape how people interpret reality. So, skewed or damaging information affects how people interpret what they read and formulate their opinions. When false, incomplete, or misguided information appears online, it can be hurtful to those with misophonia.
Casual conversations can also be a factor in how people learn and process information. Sometimes, people say things that indicate that they don’t understand an illness or disorder. When a person says “I’m so OCD” as they straighten out their closet or tidy up their desk, their statement shows they don’t understand OCD at all.
How we talk about misophonia matters because it can shape people’s perception of this sound sensitivity disorder. It can also affect how people react to the symptoms of misophonia when they see them.
Sometimes, when people with misophonia express frustration or comment on their difficulties, they are told: “lighten up,” “you need to get used to that sound,” or “you’re just too sensitive.” These suggestions are not useful or appropriate.
Most people would not make fun of a person with a serious illness, yet people with misophonia can be the brunt of jokes or belittled. A meme circulates from time to time that defines misophonia as a condition that causes us to be “easily annoyed” by “little things.” This is not accurate. It’s insulting in that it suggests we should be able to withstand life’s small inconveniences. It ignores the symptoms of the disorder and reduces them to being an insignificant, petty matter.
Should we also tell people with a serious peanut allergy to tolerate a small amount of hidden peanut butter in a baked good? Or ask a person with epilepsy who is having a seizure to stop looking for attention?
Having an invisible disorder does not make a person weak or faulty. We are not crazy, and we deserve respect. Our disorder is under-researched, but real. We do not have all the answers, but that does not make us marginal in any way. Different? Yes, we have reactions to certain sounds that most people routinely ignore. But guess what? Less than 5% of the population has no health concerns whatsoever.