Among the 500+ sites I subscribe to on Google Reader, there has been much talk about trolls as of late.
While I firmly believe that true trollers consist of mean-spirited persons who have nothing better to do, I have also been noticing a trend toward labeling commenters as trolls and jumping all over them simply for disagreeing with a post or giving their honest (but often unpopular) opinion on a topic.
That ticks me off.
Having blogged for almost a decade, I have certainly gotten my share of mean comments. And I would be lying if I were to say that when someone chooses to publicly berate me via a comment, I never get hurt.
However, the internet is open to all (save for those whose companies/ISPs/governments block content). If you choose to blog in an open forum, you are opening yourself up for judgment. Nobody agrees with you 100% of the time. Somebody is bound to pass judgement on what you write or share, and while most people will just choose to go on about their lives without commenting, a certain percentage will feel compelled to give their opinion on the topic at hand.
Sure, it is always better to give constructive criticism over an outright attack. But if that attack has a valid point, my humble opinion is that the blogger receiving the attack should take a deep breath and just step away for a period of time. And in my experience, I have found that malicious comments loses their effect on you as time passes (in my case, usually no more than 24 hours).
As I see it, all bloggers have the following choices when faced with mean comments:
- Delete offending comments
- Keep all comments on moderation and only approve those that are agreeable
- Turn off commenting altogether
- Make your blog private
- Grow a thicker skin
Personally, I can never choose any of the first four options because I do not want to censor my readers. So I am working on developing that rhino skin required of bloggers who choose to lay their lives out for all to see on the web.
Additionally, while gushing, supportive comments do feel nice and make me feel validated, I also tend to think that only having those types of comments makes for a somewhat boring atmosphere.
I have written that I may be changing my stance on censorship in this blog after the baby arrives — because parenting is a subject that is almost guaranteed to draw judgment and criticism — but I am leaning towards keeping the status quo.
A great marketer once said that you aren’t doing your job if you haven’t offended at least one person each day.
And isn’t blogging essentially a form of marketing yourself?
Think about it.
I now step off my high horse and leave this post open to all comments.