Jack Nicholson: “You can’t handle the truth!”
Jesus: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Paul: Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…Ephesians 4:15
So I have a certain blog I read from time to time that’s posted on Facebook. I really like this writer, a woman with almost-grown children who lives in Seattle. She’s funny, honest and in most ways nothing like me, especially her affinity for what she calls “mancake”. She is creative and crafty but also a great storyteller with a wonderful memory. Her stories about high school and college are hilarious. You can read it at the bottom of the page, but a note of caution: some of the language is explicit.
She posted a blog a couple days ago about how to deal with negative commenters on her blog. Her blog space allows for anonymous postings. I don’t know that WordPress does, as I moderate the comments. What I have noticed on her blog is that sometimes there are bizarre, troll-like responses to her posts that seem to come out of nowhere. Because it’s a community of (mostly) women, the other regular readers immediately circle the wagons and take the offender down, at least in type. Mrs. G, blogger, is fully able to disarm the lesser-endowed of them with her rapier-sharp wit. But she wonders, after her last battle with some particularly nasty trolls, if she should moderate better or make it a private blog.
Most of the responses went like this: “Oh, don’t make it private! I never would’ve found your blog! But kick aside these anonymous ninnies by 1) deleting their comments, 2) ignoring them, or 3) not allowing anonymous retorts any longer. ” A few brave souls told her she needed to grow a pair, man up and not worry about any dissenters. If you make your life, appearance and family issues public, you are opening yourself up to be criticized. You can’t hide. There is some truth to that.
I think what Mrs. G. was getting at is that it’s okay to disagree. Her mantra? “Lovers will love, haters will hate, and life will go on.” It’s a very laissez-faire approach. But I’m not sure most of us are able to attain it. I know my skin is not thick enough yet. If I want to be a real writer, however, I better grow one double-quick.
Her post had a link to another blog on momcrunch.com where a blogger basically said, No more. You don’t have a say. You can disagree, but most of you when you disagree, say things like “You suck! And here’s why…” It would have been more productive to say, “I disagree, and here’s why…” She called her blog her heart, her church, in essence, her world. Dear readers, none of you have done this to me, and I thank you for it. But my blog is not my world; it’s a medium to share some of it.
The ones who disagree cite the First Amendment. They have a right to free speech. It’s true. They do. We all need that to keep communication and freedom alive. But when did it become okay to run someone into the ground because their opinion differed from yours? We see it all the time with political ads. We see it in the media with celebrities. We discount entire groups of people because they don’t agree with us on an issue. Never mind that we might learn something from them, that maybe we could find some common ground and find a way to get along, to care and to love.
Perhaps it would be easier to swallow if it was done in person. My husband and a few trusted others have called me on bad attitudes and wrong opinions. It’s painful, but has helped me to grow. I welcome that input. But I don’t actively seek it out!
I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Bloggers need to come to grips with the fact that not everybody will love them. And though the truth may set us free and should be something we embrace, it can cut, too. And to readers – you can have a differing opinion and you can voice it. But you don’t get to vomit all over someone else’s life, essentially in their “house” or turf. You’re visiting. Be a good visitor. Wipe your feet, engage in the conversation and leave gracefully so that you will be welcomed back.