I’ve had, what I would consider, three negative comments left on posts on my WordPress blog.
One person wrote I was rude and insensitive. When I labelled her comment “nasty”, she told me I don’t know what nasty is. Oh, I see. She was being kind and loving when she called me rude and insensitive.
Another person commented on a post, in all caps, “BE BRIEF”. Nope.
I wrote a post titled “Something Kinda Lame I Created Became Part of a Dope Art World Meme” and yesterday someone agreed with me by commenting “Lame is right”.
My first reaction when reading all three comments was to laugh out loud.
It’s shocking — funny shocking, not offended shocking– when people feel the need to register their displeasure with something you wrote/created. Not disagreement, but displeasure.
(I’m laughing again.)
I realize that encountering the displeasure of people is part of the life of a person who shares things online. The longer you do it, the more you share, the stronger or more controversial your opinions are, the more people will whine about how you’re doing something they don’t like. The part I don’t get is why can’t people keep their displeasure to themselves?
It happens to so many of the well-known and/or accomplished people I follow — Roxane Gay, John Scalzi, Molly Crabapple, Austin Kleon, Ane Axford. Even the lesser known bloggers I follow, the regular folks who’ve been doing it about as long as I have, get negative comments. Someone wrote to one these bloggers: “quality of writing decrease…” Like, WTF? That wasn’t even a complete sentence. This blogger apologized for the poor quality of her writing. What. The. Fuck. She’s a great writer, by the way.
I should be flattered by this sudden influx of negativity and I am…kind of. It means there are a lot of eyeballs on my work, its exposure is increasing and as exposure goes up, so do the number of trolls. That’s internet math.
Last week I stumbled across a list about what emotionally strong people don’t do . What was my reaction? Did I leave a comment on the author’s site saying how gross it made me feel? No! I wrote about how I disagreed with it ON MY OWN SITE.
Why do we have comment sections anymore? Everyone has the ability to create their own blogs or sign up to Twitter and say whatever they want. I think Ta-Nehisi Coates was right when he tweeted:
Comments sections are where people go for therapy now.
Commenting is too easy and registering displeasure and outrage is too cheap. I hope more sites charge a fee for the ability to comment like Tablet magazine.
Photographer Clayton Cubitt charges a fee to get questions answered by email. The more you pay, the quicker and more thoughtful the response will be. So brilliant. He tweeted that the quality of the emails went up as a result.
I love 99% of the comments I get. For the most part they are lovely, encouraging and interesting and I really appreciate them. I love hearing from people who get what I’m trying to do and add something to it. What I don’t like is everyone having access to me. That is the scariest part of social media to me.
The whole experience of blogging and dealing with comments — positive and negative — has been revelatory. I realized I have a thicker skin than I thought. It has strengthened my commitment to my blog, to continuing to write honestly, to using every experience in service of something, and to seek out the ways people I admire have dealt with negativity and survived.
I could change my comment policy, which was simply “be kind”, to something that resembles part of John Scalzi’s comment policy:
A good rule of thumb is to comment as if the person to whom you are commenting is standing in front of you, is built like a linebacker, and has both a short temper and excellent legal representation.
Or I could do what Seth Godin and Shaun Usher of Letters of Note and Freddie deBoer did on their sites and close the comments completely. So did Austin Kleon. Here’s what he had to say about it in Show Your Work:
That’s what I want people to do: get your own or use your own blog/Twitter/whatever to write about what displeases you. It is interesting to me that it has been people with their own blogs who have been the most negative.
I’d really like to hear about the experiences of other bloggers with negative comments. How do you deal with it? Have you ever disabled comments? Are you considering it?
Thanks for reading.