Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blog behavior that displeases me

In case you can't tell from the fact that I have a blog, I like blogging.  It helps me to have a writing outlet aside from my lawyerin.  More importantly, I view the internet as the real world embodiment of John Stuart Mill's marketplace of ideas.  (OK, yeah, a lot of the ideas are kind of inane or dumb or -- to quote an old journalism advisor who was really into trying to shock us but hardly ever succeeded -- masturbatory.  Sigh.*) 

I put some thoughts into InternetLand.  People agree or disagree.  I have the opportunity to defend my thoughts, which allows me to either strengthen my previous opinion or recognize its flaws. Human development!

Sure, maybe my original thoughts are about puppies or zombies or chicken fingers or feminism or bus etiquette, and maybe I get the most google hits from "corn husk dress" and "fantastic mr fox quotes," but I read your blogs, you read mine, comments are posted, and we are all awesome.

But there are a few things that just, I don't know, bug the bajeebers out of me.  So please, if you do these things ... stop.

1. Stop complaining about the anonymous comment.  Yes, it's kind of annoying, but isn't everything on the internet anonymous?  Why should I be more offended by anonymous telling me I'm an idiot than ButterflyGirl Loves StudMuffin telling me I'm an idiot?

When newspapers print letters to the editor, they print the person's full name and city of residence.  (In the case of my old student newspaper, we substituted year in school and major for city of residence.)  Are you willing to put your full name and address on a comment?  No, of course not, and you'd be stupid to do so.  So stop pretending that the person who didn't log in to blogger before leaving a comment is somehow a bigger coward than the rest of us.  The internet makes cowards of us all.

2. Oh for the love, stop complaining generally.

(A) If someone writes something that is critical of your opinion, it is NOT critical of you.  LEARN THE DIFFERENCE.

(B) If someone writes something that is actually critical of you, you are not a better person merely by virtue of having endured it.  In fact, the more you complain about it, the more it looks like you are also being personally critical of the criticizer, at which point it's a wash so who cares anyway.

3. If someone comments on your blog to disagree with you, don't respond to say, "You missed the point."  Ninety percent of the time, that just means YOU missed the point of that person's comment.  The other 10% of the time it's going to be incredibly obvious to even a casual reader that the commenter is picking grass out in left field, so don't worry about it. 

4. If someone takes the time to engage with you, ENGAGE BACK -- or close your comments because you obviously only want fawning adoration anyway.  Either option is fine.

5. If you're going to allow comments, allow comments.  Don't stop allowing comments once they become critical.  If you don't want comments, then no sweat - don't allow any.  It's your blog, do what you want.

6. Be prepared for any response.  If you were bold enough to hit "Publish Post," be bold enough to take whatever comments or emails you may get in return. 

7. Ask yourself - do some of my posts make me look like a giant bitch/heartless bastard?  OF COURSE THEY DO.  That's the fun of InternetLand.  Tone doesn't translate right, a bad day blows things out of proportion, and even if you were perfectly crystal clear, a brief essay does not capture an individual's character or personality.

So remember -- that if that's true of you, it's true of other bloggers. And while you're at it, remember it twice before you rip on a commenter for being a giant bitch/heartless bastard.  You want people to give you the benefit of the doubt when they read your words out-of-context, do the same for others.

8. Value the people who bother to read what you write, regardless of whether they liked it or you. Otherwise, your writing is just--to borrow a phrase--masturbatory. 

* Sorry, professor.  The shock factor might have worked better if we hadn't grown up with South Park.  Nice try, though.


  1. Giant Bitch #1 giving my salute.

  2. I want to be your real life friend, instead of blog stalker. I like the way your brain works.

  3. Great post. It makes me want to disagree with you, but I don't have anything to disagree with at the moment. I'm sure something will pop up eventually.

  4. Mmrnghnnnnnnn. I'm inclined to disagree on some of these, not because you are wrong, but because I don't want to change my own behavior. For instance. someone tells me I don't "get" the gospel because I don't agree with them? My swear-laden rebuttal will hit "post" almost immediately. I should probably work on that.

    However, I think we have the idea that BECAUSE it is the internet, anything goes, and we have some weird obligation to silently take it because we dared to enter the space.

    On what level does that make sense? For me, it is like blaming a person who gets mugged for walking on a public street. You made the choice to put yourself out there! You deserve to get mugged! I make the choice to talk about sensitive and personal issues on the web, I deserve the nasty emails!

    I don't think that is what you are advocating, but those are my low-blood sugary thoughts during my free class.

  5. I love this advice. I think we all need to remember that, as anonymous as the web can be, our worst, most illogical rants will almost certainly be attached to our real names at the very moment we most need to appear level-headed and gracious.

    Also, that rants are temporary, but posts are eternal.

  6. Patty - at ease, soldier. :)

    Di - Let's make it happen! I'll email you or you email me, etc and so forth.

    Heidi - muchas gracias.

    Stephanie - I see your point and realize I was unclear. In my scenario, let's say I write some essay about feminism in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (no, I'm not watching TV while I work at home ...), and then a commenter starts ripping on feminism generally -- and instead of responding to what they wrote, I just say, "You didn't get my point" because they didn't respond to me on my terms. No bueno.

    What I think should happen is that I try to understand what the commenter was saying and respond to that, not get my panties in a twist because I think they didn't understand my oh-so-eloquent blog post. :)

    HOWEVER - I agree that if someone comes at me and says, "You don't understand feminism OR Joss Whedon," THEN I can say, "You are talking out your ass, sir or madam, and here is my evidence." This goes double when it's something that is personal interpretation like spiritual beliefs. If a commenter attacks a perception, there is nothing to do but respond to that attack.

    What I don't like is when someone doesn't bother trying to understand what speaker A or B is trying to say before responding - something that I have never seen you do, so I'm not advocating you change your behavior. :)

    In short, I'm not saying everyone should play nice all the time, since that would be boring and milquetoasty, but I am saying that playing mean for no reason just makes you look like someone who only wants sunshine and rainbows, not an actual discussion. (IE, if you sit back and smile smugly when someone agrees with you, but fire with both barrels when someone disagrees, even obliquely, you are discouraging disagreement generally and making it clear that while your comments are theoretically open, you only want compliments.)

    (If that made sense.)

    Robin - agreed. I think that people should feel free to disagree, but just try to remain level-headed and gracious when they do it -- and if you can't tell if someone is being gracious, just give them the benefit of the doubt, since that's what we'd want in return.

  7. You just didn't get my point. BAHAHAHAHA. just kidding. thanks for the clarification.

  8. I think the only time someone ever disagreed with me on my blog was a long, long time ago when I let all of my Twilight-anger out (it was good for me, I haven't felt the need to rant about it or even kind of talk about it since then. This is also good for everyone around me), and I'm kind of bummed that this hasn't happened again.

    I started off trying to figure out if I do any of these things that you're talking about on a regular basis, but that didn't last long. I must be lazy.

  9. ps commenting back on your comment on my blog.. but ha I suck at running that is what I decided yesterday at the park.. I can handle standing and hitting a ball..

  10. That's the truth: written word can be misconstrued, so you do the best you can to get your point across. If not, what can you do?

  11. Ashley - try softball. Good team sport activity, only short bursts of running. :) There's something about volleyball that just kills my arms, I've never had good form. Good luck to you.

    NiaRaie - exactly.

  12. Then you must be really displeased with me. Oh wait, you don't read my blog. whew!

    I have only had this happen once and it was recently. I stand by what I wrote because, really, calling me names in an angry tone is not getting your point across especially when the poster has never been on my blog or know me.

  13. I love your second paragraph: defend my thoughts or recognize it's flaws. I've been chastised for not standing by my original position because someone's opposing opinion wavered my original thoughts. I'm not one to hold fast to a belief if I find it at fault. I embrace change and progressivism.

    There is a tactful way of disagreeing with someone but sometimes emotions play a part. WHen that happens, people shutdown.

  14. Skippy - agree to disagree :)

    Dana - agreed, and that's why I think that bloggers (even more than commenters) need to do their best to keep emotion out of it, when practical. We want to have fun chatty times, not shutting down times. :)

  15. I didn't think these things still "happened". Makes me feel like we're still in Livejournal/ messageboard land :(

  16. Pretty much I just want to say Amen!

  17. I tried Ru, but she used the word "libel" when she should've used "liable" and well, I lost a lot of respect for her dissenting opinion on that move alone. It become worse the longer she went on tho'.

    I can assure you I asked for dissenting opinions on the original post and even said she was entitled to hers. I just don't like people that walk into a blog on one post and take a blogger to task without knowing what the heck they are like.

    Have the lawyer hairs gone down on your neck yet on the use of the word libel? I didn't libel anyone, she meant I was liable for a vet bill.

    Have a good one!

  18. My general rule is if I would accept it in an argument in real life, I always post it and try to respond to it. If it's full of ad hominem, then I don't.

    For example, the person who told me that I only blog for attention (who doesn't?) and that I'm immature and questioned if I was married in the temple and told me I should leave the church?

    Not okay. Or people who like to read one post and then make all kinds of assumptions about me? Perhaps that's one of the inherent risks in blogging, but is it really so hard to read a few more before you sum me up in a paragraph?

    I totally agree about anonymous comments though. Excuse me for not logging into blogger today.

  19. Skippy - I'm not saying it isn't annoying, but I think it is sometimes best to just let a foolish comment hang out there. (Not always, of course, but usually.) Most people will see it for what it is. And honesty, the libel/liable thing doesn't really bother me, though I could see how it might bother others. To me, it's sort of like someone mixing up their/they're/there. Silly, but common. Unless they criticized MY grammar when they did it, I probably just don't care.

    Aurora - I'm so glad you commented! I noticed when you started following, but your little person didn't lead me to your blog for some reason. Nice to meet you. :)

    Lauren - I agree, my first instinct would probably also be to take someone to task for making a personal attack, but I also think that sometimes has to be tempered with the realization that crazy is generally obvious. (What I really want is some sort of emoticon of that captures the Scooby Doo "ruh roh" and the "bitch is nuts!" whistle at the same time to use in that situation.) While it can be hard when you feel personally attacked, most of the time when you step back, you realize that such an attack is irrational on its face. ("Oh, so I hate men and unborn babies, do I? Meh. Fine.")

    Basically, I feel like there's a time for doing battle and a time for silently raising my eyebrows, and in general, I think we could all stand to raise our eyebrows more often.

    (Though this may just be a product of my natural cynicism and apathy. Eh, time will tell.)