On: Virtual Commentary

I’m judging myself for being a contradiction here, but I consider myself introverted and I find commenting on internet posts and articles very difficult. I also really enjoy writing, but when I see an empty comment box for an article or social media post, I get anxious. I’ve talked myself out of writing many a comment because I’m afraid of sharing my perspective and leaving them open for replies by false authorities or trolls.

Really–who are they? More importantly, unless they’re someone reading a formal blog entry I’ve posted, who are they to me?

Reminiscing now back to a comment I’d made a couple weeks ago using the Disqus platform on an article I received via an email newsletter. The comment was simply a perspective, made up of a couple short sentences. I’m pretty consistent with maintaining my authenticity in that I don’t claim to be a professional (unless I am one, although I couldn’t tell you what kind of professional I’d be at this point in time). I didn’t use any offensive language or state anything controversial. Days after I’d posted my comment, a long-winded reply was made to my comment by an alleged professional on the subject matter of the article–but they used a nickname that left them anonymous so I can’t be certain if it was even an author or editor of the article. They proceeded to make assumptions by labeling me and my background–and they were hilariously wrong. Perhaps they’d simply made them based on my profile picture (a picture may be worth a thousand words, but that doesn’t make all of them true). I smiled as I read the comment a few times over, then proceeded to block the troll.

But–who are they? Why would they do that? (I feel like I sound like Sebastian Maniscalco.)

But… Why?

The only thing I can guess (aside from pointless trolling) is that they took offense to something I wrote. I’ll never know because, aside from blocking them, they never admitted they were offended or hurt, but that is what would put me in a defensive state personally.

Admittedly, my language in my comment was broad brushing and vague, mainly out of laziness, but also out of privacy. The latter which lends to a fear a vulnerability. Getting the stupid comment I did on the little light I allowed through the blinds hurts bad enough. Why would I completely open the blinds and make myself more vulnerable? Finally, writing any commentary that’s very personal on an article feels inappropriate.

Another inconsistency I recognize in myself and admitted introversion is that I’m more likely to comment on my personal experience in a live conversation if I feel comfortable with others present than I am to comment online. Thanks to my ability to compartmentalize, in-person conversation is a forum for discussion, not the internet. The internet makes it too easy to avoid what I don’t like–I can block what doesn’t sit well with me. My further experience is that people reply to in-person commentary in a more thoughtful manner with an awareness of the surrounding social etiquette (unless they’re sadists or sociopaths). Tone is also such a tricky thing, and better understood in person.

I’m reading Brene Brown’s Rising Strong right now, and have most recently read about courage and vulnerability. I’m currently at a point where she writes about curiousity toward our feelings and why we feel them, which suggests we have to also recognize that we are indeed feeling them and there indeed is something deeper to be learned by feeling them and understanding them.

So, should I be bolder with my commentary and throw it all out there to whatever online platform I’m compelled?

I stand by no. Brown quotes an interview with Miriam Greenspan who details why she believes our culture is “emotion phobic.” In that interview Miriam talks about our suppression of emotions and how we watch scary films and “reality” TV shows to experience vicarious emotions because we are “emotionally numb.” However, these emotions are substitutes for the ones we’re denying ourselves from feeling. Could it be that virtual commentary is a substitute for in-person commentary for some? Practically speaking, it certainly is–especially when we’re talking about my comment on an article that was published 500 miles away from me and a response from someone else who might even live in a different country.

I won’t be bullied into silence, but I also won’t be bullied into a rambling argument that holds no real value to me. I care about commentary, but only if it’s constructive or thought-provoking, which I suppose that person’s reply was to some degree, or it’d not have prompted this post.


May good things come to you always.

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