I’ve never understood why people leave mean comments on articles and blog posts. I understand expressing a point of view, an opinion, adding, correcting or updating information* but calling the author foul names and threatening them personally is just beyond my ability to understand.
Haven’t you heard that people don’t read or scroll anymore? that the content has to be compelling to get those eyeballs on the page in the first place? When I read an article I don’t like, I don’t read until the end; I’m the one who moves away from the article. I close my browser tab and go somewhere else. Who are these people who read an article just to weigh in with threats of rape and harm and challenging the intelligence and parentage of the writer?
Now that’s not happening around here. You, dear one, are my only reader. I write only for you and it’s okay that you only sometimes leave a comment. I know you’re there and that’s enough for me.
The nonsense I’m talking about is something that popular writers suffer from. Good writers. Those who stir up emotions. I guess that might be why one can’t always expect those emotions to be compassion or empathy or joy or good will to all people. But why can’t I expect those emotions to be shared with passion and respect?
Now, I don’t read comments on articles as a rule. Dang it, I barely ever read past a headline and the first sentence! But I do read a few really good writers all the way through and Emily Writes is one of them. You don’t know Emily “Please don’t call me the Tarzan Woman.” Writes? She wrote the review about the Tarzan movie last year that was super funny and really popular.
She wrote another really funny one about Idris Elba's Valentine’s Day campaign* a few days ago and the comments weren’t all kind or encouraging or supportive.
"Here lies Emily Writes. Cause of death: Idris Elba saying "That's right love".
She died doing what she loved. Honestly look at this perfection. It actually caused me to melt into a puddle. It's amazing I can type. I spontaneously combusted. I am ashes.
What would it be like to date Idris Elba? “
I woke up the morning after she published the piece to read that she had removed her Idris blog post from her blog. She also talked about all the negativity she encounters in the comment threads of her articles.
And I’m so disappointed that after 20 years of comments this shit is still going on. This used to happen in the olden days of the blog world and it’s just rubbish that it’s still happening and we still haven’t grown up enough to manage it.
I also don’t think that suggesting that taking blog posts down, closing comments off, ignoring the haters, moving off Facebook/Blogspot/moving URLs/having someone else moderate your comments should be the answer. Why bully good writers underground or into gated paywalled communities?
Can you just for a minute imagine that hot horrible feeling you get when someone is talking about you and saying something mean? Can you now imagine that – 10 times a day?
And yes, I feel shit that I took down the post when other people like it. And yes, I feel like the mean people won. They did. But also, what can I do?
Emily says she has lots of positive commenters. Lots of people who leave thoughtful, productive comments. It’s having to wade through the sewerage of abuse to get to them that gets her feeling really bad about herself and her writing.
How do we go about protecting our precious content creators? I know that the abusive commenters aren’t going anywhere. They love the attention. What can we do?
- I saw Tarzan and this is my review after some wines (Emily Writes)
- Idris Elba wants you to be his Valentine (YouTube)
- *Caught in the thirst trap: White gaze on black bodies (Pantograph Punch)
- *That Idris Elba post: an apology (Emily Writes)