AFFLICTED: Why are so many choosing to skip it, not stream it?

*As a chronic illness sufferer I have decided to not watch the series until I am in a position where I feel happy and strong enough to watch ‘Afflicted’. As the series has been widely discredited by those within the spoonie community I have chosen to share the resonating reaction*
The spoonie community had been sitting patiently on their sofas waiting on the release of Netflix’s most recent medical documentary, expected to follow in the footsteps of the current chronic illness movement.
However, apparently the footsteps took a different direction this time. Because arguably the only direction they took was a step backwards. A step so hard that the whole community feels as if it has fallen over, flat on its face.
‘Afflicted’ was dubbed to be another stride forward during a time in which the chronic illness community is refusing to be silenced or (despite doctors orders) slow down. Yes, that was a little humour for you (and a dig at them). 

The docuseries was expected to use screens all over the world as windows into the lives of people whose curtains are nearly always pulled shut. Instead of sharing the stories of sufferers their diagnoses were twisted to fit the stigma that not many people have the energy left to fight. That’s why the series was meant to do so much but instead has damaged so much more.

However, producers of the series were seemingly more focused on the narrative of framing the individuals as eccentric or suffering from Munchausen syndrome.

Those suffering from chronic illness are turning to popular main stream media to educate the masses and yet one of the worlds most popular streaming services has chosen to broadcast the perpetuating, and out-dated idea that these chronic illnesses are mental, not physical.
Viewers and sufferers who had patiently waited in their thousands to stream what was promised to be another educated and compassionate look into the chronic illness community were shocked. So were those involved.
As a community there has been a resounding reaction to the production, that of disappointment and hurt, not only that, but the opinion that the world has been ill educated because of the irresponsible and damaging portrayal of those interviewed.
Following the success and movement of Jennifer Brea’s  ‘Unrest’ many were expecting this production to follow in those footsteps. 2018 has marked a year of real change and understanding towards chronic illness. Netflix seem to be unaware of this.
Afflicted aimed to take a look at the diseases and disorders that many cannot understand and, unfortunately, due to the severity and isolation of the suffering don’t often get to see.
The montage of seven people has filled screens all over the world, with the series itself currently featured in most news outlets and is still one of the currently most streamed items on Netflix. For all the wrong reasons.
Two reactions have filled Twitter since its release: that of anger from the chronic illness community, which is then counterbalanced by lack of understanding from those who have been watched the series hoping to get understanding but have disappointingly been ill educated. This is damaging for both sides.

The label of a diagnosis is sometimes the only level of legitimacy that a chronic illness sufferer has. Yet ‘Afflicted’ stripped the definition behind these diagnoses and has seemingly framed them with a commentary that is ensured to drive streamers and not educate viewers.

Conventional medicine has not yet found a one size fits all treatment for the despairingly complex illnesses featured. Diverse symptoms and conditions that span over various departments within the health system can make management near impossible.

Due to the backlash many chronic illness sufferers are choosing to turn off the TV and pray that their friends, family, employers and strangers do the same. 

If you’d like to read my own journey with chronic illness, specifically M.E., then click here.


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