Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Internet is a Weird Place

Yes, this is one of those irritating philosophical posts. More interesting stuff (by my reckoning) - bees, gardens, cooking, sewing, and knitting- will return soon. I'll try to get a post up this weekend on our latest creation - The Snickerdoodle Cheesecake!
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Today Q posted a link to one of my old posts on a relatively well-read site in the comments section of an article about Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Google analytics registered 655 hits for my site today. I'm well aware that the only people who usually read this blog are my mom and a few friends. Therefore, 652 more visitors than usual was a novel occurrence. :)

I was struck by the fact that that many people came through and the only person who bothered to comment just made sweeping negative generalizations about my character. I was upset at first (oh my gosh, I'm a horrible person) and then just angry (my rebutting comment still has a little snide tinge of this, I admit) and now I've kind of stepped back from overreacting emotionally, regained some equilibrium and am letting my head, instead of my heart and stomach, start digesting this phenomenon.

This has led me to two potential ideas, neither of which is probably right but I do find them intriguing. The conflicting hypotheses both center on Thumper's mom's advice, "If you don't have anything nice to say...".

1) People, for the most part, still hold that to be true, and the majority agreed with the comment poster but didn't feel the need to say it out of courtesy.

2) People don't really bother saying anything if they aren't angry or offended. It's sort of a weird reverse, "If you don't have anything negative to say, why post a comment?" I, of course, on a personal level am rooting for this one to be accurate since it assumes that most people don't agree with the poster.

I also realized that I tend to live more closely in line with the second way of being but it leaves me wondering if I should start pursuing a third path. Currently, if it's not meant merely to impart information on a given topic, my rare comments do tend to be critical, question-asking sorts of things, not "right ons". (Although, I've never understood the nonconstructive personal attacks and name-calling.) My actions are not in line with my beliefs though, since I'm more often thinking "right on" when I'm reading things. I've now realized that I tend toward being a silently supportive lurker. ;) Unfortunately, in internet land, this doesn't express my appreciation to the many people whose work I read and admire on a regular basis.

As usual, it's the negative stuff that provides the richest food for thought and the strongest push toward different actions.

The Thought: I can see little bits of myself in the mean comment. I also need to remember that that is not the usual predominant characteristic reflected back by my friends and family - people who I assume know me better than any anonymous internet poster. I know that I will always be completely full of flaws but, thankfully, the people I surround myself with in the real world are kind enough to look past that and see who I would like to be, am striving to be.

The Actions: I will try to be a more active, balanced presence in the blogs I follow. A positive comment takes only a moment of my time and may bring a little bright spot to someone else's day.

If you got to the bottom here, thanks for reading. If you find me to be insufferable, don't bother commenting. If you disagree with my ideas, by all means start a dialogue. I will keep trying to take everything, the good and the bad, with more equanimity. I know there's something to be learned in all of it - even if I don't like it!

1 comment:

Edwards/Jackson said...

I've read your post and the comment a couple of times and my initial response is still 'zuh??'.

It was a well written response- I fall into the category of people who read and rarely respond. Probably because I agreed with most of what you said. I figured you would find the link worth reading which is why I passed it along.

Keep on with your bad self, you liberal! :) (LOL to that!)