Thursday, August 26, 2004


Click here for mood music

Due to what happened to Helen today, I'm wondering aloud about the "Comments" we leave one another on our blogs.

I'm sure most of us pay close attention to what's said there, as it's a reaction to what we've written. Usually, when a comment is left, we feel flattered and appreciated, however slightly, and complimented that someone would bother to leave an opinion about something we've written. It's encouraging and invigorating.

However, and this hasn't happened to me yet, there are visitors who come to criticize. We're a fair mark for criticism and disagreeing points of view, those things are within the rules. But personal attacks are not. Spiteful challenges to our characters are not.

Some people tend to "cross the bounds of civility," to quote our good friend The Random Penseur, without asking for an invitation. Overstepping those boundaries is unforgivable but, due to the nature of the internet, entirely probable. It is also something we willingly expose ourselves to, by posting -what amounts to- personal diaries online, full of private disclosures that many of us wouldn't dream of discussing even with close friends.

But we can't expect for it to be all chocolates and roses, all the time. There are a lot of people out there who are just plain mean; who would jump at an opportunity to step on our published weaknesses and ridicule us before our blogbuddies. We musn't let them get to us. It is imperative that we stay above it, delete or ignore discourteous words, and ban the culprits when possible.

Someday I plan to write "The Blogger's Social Contract," where I'll get a chance to discourse and bore you further with my preaching on the subject.

I would hope that nobody in our blogging community would allow somebody's hurtful or inconsiderate comments to cause them to shut down their blog. That would be granting them far too much power over all of us. And it would deprive the rest of us from a beautiful voice.


Helen said...

It wasn't just a mean comment, Mick.

It was my family.

Disowning me.

The_Darkener said...

I wish you would write "The Blogger's Social Contract." It would be really nice/ helpful/ kind.

Sarah McBroden said...

I can't comment on Helen's situation as my family doesn't know about (and I hope never finds out about) my blog, but I have had a fair share of passers by that wished to tell me how sick and depraved I am. I have had a few comments from people that want to do things to me that have made my stomach churn. I have had comments that have been nothing but an attack on me personally. I have also endured a man that proclaimed me guilty of mental instability because such a small amount of people enjoy rough sex that it has to be an illness (just like homosexuality according to him). In the end I had to learn how to not take it personally. Now days I do not respond to personal attacks, these people are simply looking for a fight. I remove one's that make me feel ill.

I figure with what I write about, I am certainly going to get people that want to judge me. The day I let them dictate what I write is the day I give it up!

C. Fish said...

I feel bad for Helen... I have read her blog a bit.. and it was just uncalled for what happened to her.

I have deleted former journals because of trolls attacking me in them. I now keep myself rather 'private' as you've probably noticed. I especially don't tell my family where to find my blog. My mother in law used to snoop in my journal before and now she doesn't even know I have one.

I find the company of strangers more pleasant than my own family to be honest. My parents and family shunned me for their own reasons, and we still have a very stiff and guarded relationship.

I would hope that people could be mature and remember the if you can't say something nice, just don't say anything rule, but too many just do it to stir up trouble.

There are those that thrive on other's pain and the drama of the crap they stir up.

I think most bloggers have been through it at some point, and we can all relate to how invasive and violating it feels to have this done.

MICK said...

Both my sisters know about my blog. I'm not sure if they read it at all. I try not to think about it, but I'm sure I subconsciously keep things out that I'd prefer they didn't know about.

Still, it's very hard to be objective and honest, like you would in a totally private diary, when you know that friends and loved ones are looking in.

I've been very fortunate, and have yet to receive an unkind comment, but I'm aware of the fact that my writing is not very "cutting edge." It's not meant to be.

Holly said...

Your post was well written - it made me go to Helen's site to see what had happened. I feel for her, but then I feel for everyone, who like me, for whatever reason, finds themselves venting and/or pouring out their heart to a blog, for lack of anyone in their own circle of people who care to hear about their life and welcome an intimate emotional relationship with them.

Creative outlets, bettering yourself, all that works great, but nothing can ever replace feeling close enough to someone to tell them everything, and know you will never be judged.

Welcome the internet and the place to spill your guts - knowing full well there are those out there who are only interested in spreading your guts more places than you intended. Life without it would be pretty boring though, so you have to accept those few along with the hundreds to match who read posts and get something out of it - even if sometimes it may just be "my life ain't so bad after all...."

Amber said...

Mick, you read my mind! I fully planned on doing a post on this topic today, but Fridays (and Mondays!) often tend to be my busiest work days.

I've read some critical or downright mean comments on *several* blogs over the last few weeks: Random's, MBL's, Doe's..umm...I know there are others. Sarah and Helen, of course. I know that yesterday for Helen it was a family member, but when I very first started reading Helen's blog a couple of months ago, someone else had commented something rude about her BF, Mr. Y.

I mean, C'MON! It wasn't even said about the person blogging!

Rude commenters rarely, if ever, leave an email address, or a blog addy, or any way to reach them so you can be sure they know what they are saying will be taken badly.

They are doing it on purpose because they hardly EVER LEAVE AN ADDRESS! How friggin' cowardly is that?

I've been furious at some comments on my site too, although only one person was trying to be mean. I think the others were just being thoughtless.

But most of all, I think too many people criticize others without having enough information. Many of these rude commenters have never been to the blog before. They read a few posts and BAM! They think they're experts on the person.

Zooming in on someone's blog and making a critical comment that you KNOW is going to hurt the person is like walking up to someone on the street and saying their baby is ugly. Or coming into your house for a party and picking a fight with you. Sure, nobody can STOP them from doing that, you can do almost anything you want to in this world, but it's damn rude.

But they never seem to get that. They are SURE that you are just sitting on your hands waiting to be judged.

Well, BS to that.

There seems to be more of it going on lately than I've ever seen before and I've been blogging over 2 years now. I hope to god that what happened to Usenet is not happening to blogs. Usenet is basically worthless now; filled with trolls and troublemakers who make it impossible to have fun.

I hope, I HOPE that doesn't happen with blogs as more of the public finds them. I know of people who have shut down their blogs because of it or taken their comments down for good.

It's a damn shame and a disgrace.

MICK said...

Absolutely, Amber. I concur with every one of your statements.

Still, I think all bloggers need to be mentally prepared for the worst, and when that comes from an unknown source we should be able to let it slide off. It's the only way we'll be able to perpetuate the integrity of the blogospere as we know it.

Thanks for all your comments!

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