I’ve been blogging for about 3 1/2 years now, and in that time, I’ve received my fair share of negative, rude comments from readers. At first, I was so taken aback and personally insulted by the rare mean comments I’d encounter that I would rack my brain, trying to figure out how to convince everyone to like me while I cried myself to sleep. Later, that sadness and self-consciousness turned to rage, and I would find myself responding with the same vitriol those original commenters spewed at me. Eventually, I learned to accept such comments as inevitable, even going so far as to play a game with myself each time I published an article on a larger platform, making personal bets as to how many rude comments I’d receive and exactly what kind of comments they’d be (yeah, they’re so predictable I can pretty much guess what they’ll say down to the letter). Among many things:
I’ve been told I’m stupid.
I’ve been called unoriginal and uninteresting.
I’ve been accused of not deserving to raise children.
I’ve been targeted as a genital mutilator and harassed on my blog page for remaining indifferent toward circumcision.
I’ve been told to kill myself.
I’ve come to regard a good portion of internet readers with contempt (not the sane, respectful ones; I LOVE those readers and commenters, even when we share different perspectives!). To me, the thoughtless naysayers out there represent exactly what’s wrong with humanity, and the filth they project onto others in the comments sections of articles merely acts as a mirror for the filth they are as human beings. Harsh? Maybe. But when you’ve seen and had to internalize what I and many of my fellow bloggers have, you start to lose any ounce of respect you might have once harbored for people like that.
Not surprisingly, I encountered yet another round of hurtful, heartbreaking comments on a recent article of mine, as did a few bloggers I know, some of whom were even told they don’t deserve to live simply because these commenters found fault with something in the bloggers’ articles. Which is why I thought it’s high time I put together a guide for Commenting on Internet Articles (for Dummies).
Want to make sure you’re not one of those insufferable commenters to which I refer? Ask yourself these questions before clicking publish on that next comment:
Did you read the article?
Seriously. Did you read it? Because I can’t tell you how many people simply read the teaser that appears at the top of an article on social media and never bother to click the article itself, instead launching into a tirade about something they’ve read out of context. Let me tell you something: If you do this, you look supremely moronic to everyone else who actually took the time to read the article. Supremely moronic.
Can you read?
This isn’t a joke. If you have taken the time to click on the actual article and give it a look-see (yay, you!), I am legit asking: Can. You. Read? I’ve truly become concerned about a lot of internet commenters’ reading comprehension skills. As in they appear to have none. If you can’t pinpoint basic main idea, probably stay away from commenting, because when you start to rage about something that wasn’t even close to the main focus of an article, your ineptitude becomes glaringly obvious to those who do possess fundamental comprehension abilities.
Can you identify sarcasm, satire, and dry humor?
If you’ve ever mistaken an Onion article for truth or misread verbal irony for sincerity, you need to be extra careful about what you say in response to internet articles. The number of people who can’t pick up on humor, regardless of whether it’s obvious or somewhat hidden, is exhausting. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and just keep quiet if you have trouble detecting whether someone’s joking or serious. Chances are, nobody’s going to waste their time trying to explain it to you, and even if they do, the likelihood that you’d actually get it is slim anyway.
Do you have a sense of humor?
Even if you can identify sarcasm, satire, and dry humor when presented with it, ask yourself if you actually have a sense of humor before going through with that comment. If you frequently find your panties in a bunch or have to dislodge large sticks from your ass on the regular, keep scrolling. Nobody wants to waste 30 seconds of their lives reading your comment only to discover you suffer from a major case of butthurtitis.
Do you understand that there are actual human beings at the other end of the internet?
Are you aware that real people with real feelings author and publish those articles on the internet? Or do you live in some fantasy land wherein a magic internet fairy abracadabras articles out of thin air and sprinkles them about the interwebs for your reading displeasure? Consider how what you are about to say might impact someone else. Better yet? Put yourself in their shoes and contemplate how you’d feel if somebody said to you what you’re about to say to the author. If you wouldn’t want to hear or read it about yourself, it’s a safe bet that the author doesn’t want to, either.
Would you say what you’re about to comment with to somebody’s actual face?
As in, would you walk right up to this person on the street and verbally tell them what you are about to tell them online? If you wouldn’t, don’t say it in the comments section of the article, for Christ’s sake. If you would and what you’re about to say is still super mean, you’re an asshole, and chances are nobody likes you in real life, either, so spare us all and move along.
Does your experience have a direct impact on the author’s purpose and intended audience?
Maybe the author’s ideas or experiences don’t apply to you, or maybe you’ve enjoyed a different experience altogether. Does what you’re about to share add to the author’s purpose or help clarify a point for the author’s audience? Or is what you want to say in the comments merely a rant about how you did or felt something different and therefore the author’s experience isn’t valid because it wasn’t your experience and apparently your experience is the only one that should be worth a shit to anybody? If it’s the latter, keep it to yourself. This may come as a shocker, but not everything has to conform to your beliefs and expectations to be worthy of the internet’s attention.
Can you do a better job of addressing the topic than the author?
If you think you can, go on out and try it. If you’re successful, feel free to come back and leave your jerk response. If you don’t have the balls or the know-how to craft a written response and publish it on a public platform, shut your face. Don’t talk the talk if you’re incapable of or unwilling to walk the walk.
And there you have it: Commenting on Internet Articles (for Dummies). Hopefully, you don’t need this guide for yourself. If you do, please do those of us who publish on the internet a favor and take this guide to heart. And if you still insist on leaving your rude, hurtful comments, then we insist on this: