The downfall of the comment
With the advent of social media, we live in a world that is immediately accessible and available for commentary. Your ex getting married, Targets new marketing campaign, your favorite and most loathed fitness gurus, photographs of your best friends lunch and all your old co-workers drama is all available for your paroosing and commentary.
Whats awesome about this is you have the immediate ability to give feedback on any and everything you follow. Whats saddening to me about this is the culture that has been created by this ability.
Its easier than ever to throw whatever your disparaging, judgmental or praising remarks where ever you please. Its become a world of constant feedback, incessant disapproval and often lacks compassion, thoughtfulness, tact or grace. The knee jerk reaction is what is often smattered in a comment thread which often quickly escalates into arguments between strangers. There is even a sort of counter-culture of trolls who pride themselves in finding active comment threads and seeking to engage in such a way that demands argument. For sport. It all feels very inhumane to me.
There is a sort of agreement in commentary that we all have a right to do so. And Im not so sure I think thats a positive thing. There are plenty of issues, life events of others, feelings of others, random internet goings-on that I would have an opinion about if pressed, that I just dont feel its my place to provide feedback. I dont see value for myself in constantly evaluating others. With facebook pages I follow, if I dont agree I may offer up a point kindly or I may just think to myself that that message didnt resonate with me today. I dont really have space in my head to be constantly evaluating others rights and wrongs.
I think all this feedback inflates our own belief that we must judge everything as well as increases our own concern about the judgements of others.
To have built this sort of platform and watch it grow and change Ive learned a few things. Ive learned when a statement or a question is inviting conversation and when someone just wants a place to rant. Ive learned not to take personally even personal attacks. Ive learned that even if I come up with the perfect come-back, nothing good comes from it arguing with folks who just want to yell. Ive learned that I cannot be upset about hatefulness directed at me, but that I also cant attach myself too closely to the positive commentary either. Even praise is about the one giving it, and while its loving it belongs to the giver. If attached to my value, both lead to a need for feedback to feel validated, and Ive learned the only place I can ground myself is in my own two feet.
Ive also found that the most valuable interactions Ive had have never been through a comment, but through the actual work of penning an email. Ive been asked difficult questions, Ive been challenged in my thinking and Ive had meaningful dialogue (even with really upset people) when they have taken the time to exchange writing with me.
And it certainly isnt specific to me. Every time I read a status update, or an article or hell, see an instagram photo I enjoy I have to command myself not to scroll through the comments. If its a photo of a famous woman it will almost always have at least a handful of comments about her deserving of sexual violence. There is usually name calling and below the belt back-and-forth between strangers. There is disagreement, but not in the interest of conversation. Its a I have a right to my opinion about this and you and here is every bold thing I can think to say. (wait by keyboard for opposition).
I love a good debate. Not for the sake of argument but for the sake of understanding a different perspective. Im always excited to meet someone who has a completely different world-view than I have who is not defensive or closed off to conversation about it. Even if all I gather from the conversation is a better understanding of where Im coming from and a peek into why someone else would feel differently thats quite valuable. But the nature of the comment section is just not that. It isnt thoughtful debate. Its knee-jerk. It doesnt regard the other person. Its speaking in a way most folks never would in person.
Im not sure I think all this feedback is so good for us. Its taken me years to really grasp the concept that how I feel about others is about me and vice versa. I dont dress, speak, or orchestrate my behavior just so that others will like me. Sometimes I come across a person who feels the need to criticize something about me. Other times someone offers a compliment. Neither are things my self-worth is wrapped in. I do not live for the feedback of others. And neither do I write or share my life experience for commentary.
I know that when I put myself out there in my work that that leaves me open for all kinds of judgments. I dont agree that it is my duty to allow anyone who feels so moved to to spray paint on the platform I built. I do want to be available for discussion of all kinds. So my email is available for anyone wanting to talk with me.
I see things all the time that I dont like. I have strong beliefs and know plenty of people with equally strong opposing ones. I am not afraid of controversy. But I am not for comment culture. If youve got a fight, if youve got a question, if youve got a compliment, if you want at me Im here.
But in this space I write thoughtfully and with a full heart. I will no longer hold space here for commentary. But I will always be available for conversation.
I know this makes me a black sheep. Ive always been okay with that.
I think thoughtfulness is making a comeback. I believe in compassion. And I never want the sort of site where scrolling down might make your stomach turn.
So Im moving on from comments. Facebook has the space for that, but when my website begins anew in the next month, it will not.