I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. I don’t think the time will ever be right, but I’m tired of having it floating around in my head.
Figuring out how the comment function “should” work in this medium has been awkward at times. When I first started blogging, I would encounter blogs where leaving a comment met with a “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” I check back and the writer never approved it. A perfectly innocuous comment, agreeing with what the poster said. I take that as my signal never to return. Why do these people have their blog public?
Some writers are vigilant about commenting on everyone’s comments, and this is great. It makes it a real conversation, back and forth. But sometimes when I start to do this, it feels forced. Sometimes I know that a comment does not require a response. At the same time, I don’t want to make the commenter feel unheard or unappreciated. That is a dilemma I struggle with.
There is one blogger whose writing I admire for its humor and commentary on pop culture. I’ve left a couple of well-crafted comments, hoping maybe to strike up a conversation or let her know I like her work, and she has never responded, nor has she ever visited my site, according to the blog stats page. She doesn’t get many comments on her site, maybe a couple for a post on a good day, or else I would just make up the excuse that she is too busy and overwhelmed by her readership. Though I feel like a little kid standing in humble admiration, I continue to visit her page because it is worth it, even if she doesn’t have time for me. (At least she doesn’t moderate my comments into the cyber round file!)
Another blogger whose writing I very much enjoy brought up the desire for honesty in comments, an idea to which I myself subscribe. Respectful honesty: to me, I’ve always thought this is the goal of communication, right?
But now I think, maybe not always. Sometimes maybe it is good to have a place to come and just get support from people. This world tends toward the hostile, and sometimes even respectful honesty feels hostile when you’ve had enough strife in the rest of your day. Sometimes we just need people to relax with and not feel like we’re being criticized or picked apart every minute. This is definitely legitimate.
A recent foot-in-mouth comment of mine leads me to consider the nature of individual blogs, what their purposes are. I above all want to be respectful of people’s intended audience and atmosphere. I think the most disrespectful comment is the one that tries to tear the fabric of the blog without consideration of its nature.
Which leads inevitably to the question, what is the nature of my blog? I get the sense from people’s comments that they are inspired to think about the content, and sometimes have a good chuckle, when reading my posts. I confess I’ve never had a disruptive comment. Luck, I suppose, or lack of traffic! I don’t feel like I’ve clarified the purpose of my own blog in my mind, other than having a forum to express myself and see how people react to it, how they can add to it or spin the topic in a way I hadn’t thought of. I do really like the idea of making people laugh. I think this is a valuable objective. I want to cultivate my own sense of humor and learn not to stand in the way of others’.
Lately I’ve taken to commenting on some of the articles on the website of the local paper. Most of it is democrat/republican sniping, and I like to jump into the fray if I feel there is something worth addressing. I know the paper welcomes all comments so they can sell ads to advertisers, so there is no danger of disrespecting a certain atmosphere that someone has worked hard to create. As you can imagine if you are familiar with how I operate, I don’t launch personal attacks or try to ridicule anyone individually. But neither do I hold back much on what I really think.
But blogs are a different kind of public forum. I am so blown away by bloggers who open up themselves to the world and try to make honest, real connections. I am equally impressed with readers who take the time to digest and react in their own words to what the blogger has offered up for thought. I have always loved books and words, and I’ve always loved to sit around and chew over some issue or other with friends, but this experience on the internet combines both activities and takes them to a whole new level. It is amazing to be in a global conversation and I have not stopped being overwhelmed at how lucky I am to be participating in it. Really, it is unprecedented in the history of humans.
I look forward to many years of experimenting with this great exchange.