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.