I introduced the song with my standard rap:
"I wrote this next song about someone living with undiagnosed myalgic encephalomyelitis. If you've never heard of that, it's probably because most people refer to it as as 'chronic fatigue syndrome,' which is a STUPID name for a very serious disease."
One neat perk of playing the Folk Festival is that the people running sound record everyone's sets. They handed us a CD of ourselves right after we finished. So, first chance I got, I played the CD for the person who inspired "Everybody Knows About Me." He couldn't come out to see us because he was too sick. He rarely leaves the house.
He listened. After he complimented us on a job well done, the following conversation ensued (extremely condensed/paraphrased):
Him: "You shouldn't mention 'chronic fatigue syndrome.' It gives people the wrong idea. Just call it myalgic encephalomyelitis."
Me: "How will that help? No one knows what myalgic encephalomyelitis is.* The audience would sympathize with people who have ME, then continue to treat people with chronic fatigue syndrome badly because those people are just tired and lazy."
Him: "They'll make the connection. They'll understand that it's wrong to be prejudiced regardless of what the diagnosis is."
Me: "Eh. I doubt it."
What do you think? Do I shoot our cause in the foot by invoking the very name that promotes the bad stereotypes? Or is it better to bring the stupidity of that name out into the light?
* * *
* For those of you who are reading this from somewhere other than the U.S., the vast majority of Americans have never heard of ME. When I say "myalgic encephalomyelitis," the response is always a blank stare, followed by, "What's that?"