I’ve come across several cases recently of commenters posting hateful or at least unthinking comments on blogs and websites. The worst was on an article about infertility that I reposted here. That article generated some of the most cruel and heartless comments I’ve ever read on the subject.
Then, last week a fellow blogger told me of her experience with an equally unpleasant throw away comment someone left on a blog she visits. It was one of those comments about the childless and childfree that we know in our hearts aren’t true, but that sting anyway. The words, bitter, pathetic and whiny are often associated with those stereotypes.
I know better than to read comments on news sites, because I always get riled up, and yet I do it anyway, and then find myself stomping around furious that someone could be so thoughtless and insensitive.
Finally last week, I had lunch with a friend who had published an article called My Husband, the Convicted Murderer on Salon.com. Her article spawned 122 comments, ranging from support and understanding to the inevitable hate mail variety. I asked her; “How do you deal with this?” and she gave me some helpful advice.
She said (and I’m paraphrasing here):
“Some people just come looking for a fight. They’re looking for controversy and they’re looking for someone to leave their darkest thoughts. The internet is the perfect, almost anonymous place to do that.”
She’s right. People come from all sorts of dark places, and often with their own personal agenda. Sometimes people post before they think, or they just don’t bother wasting energy thinking at all. There’s nothing we can do to help those people, and odds are, they don’t want to be helped or educated or enlightened. They just want to fight.
I feel very fortunate that most of the people who find this blog are coming with something positive to say. It has helped create the kind of community I’d envisioned when I first started this project. But when I venture out into the wider world and encounter the other kind of commenters out there, I’ll be sure to keep my friend’s advice in mind.
It’s Whiny Wednesday, so chime in to the discussion or feel free to have a whine of your own.
P.S. On the subject of other blogs, here’s an article tying in to our National Women’s History month series that I posted on Divine Caroline earlier this week.