Blog comments: A Tale of Poison Penmanship

Blogging, made clear from the existence of this site, has become an integral part of 21st century life. What started out as a way to share the trivial goings on of day to day life has become a sensation; a necessity, a part of modern living too vital to even entertain the thought of existing without. Okay, that might be over stretching the point a bit, but in short: blogging is big, it’s everywhere, and it’s here to stay. But far more than the politics of a blog’s actual content is the questionable etiquette concerning blog comments.

My personal blog features a mix of works, ranging from celebrity interviews I have undertaken for various publications, opinion pieces on current affairs stories and theatre reviews. The news related items are understandably the most divisive amongst readers, and in the last week, I received two rather lengthy and, in truth, rather rude comments dismissing what I had written.

The first of these came last weekend, and was not unexpected. I wrote an article disapproving of the inappropriate conduct I believed was being engaged in by members of the Guild Officer team at my university. As a very opinionated opinion piece, I fully expected that some negative feedback might arise. The very nature of an opinion piece is that it is founded upon the subjective views of its author, and for people to disagree with my views is something I have no objection to. But why people feel the need to write mini monologues attempting to persuade me that my views are wrong is something I cannot understand. I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and, so long as it is not harmful to anyone else, they should be able to share it. What I do not believe in, however, is people using free speech as a form of evangelism to influence other people’s way of thinking. That particular blog was simply my reaction to events that had taken place, and should anyone disagree, that is perfectly fine. At no point was I trying to convince anyone – I was simply sharing my thoughts on a matter that I found rather irritating.

Further to this, I received an even longer comment yesterday from someone who had several objections to a blog I had written about the YouTube video My Tram Experience. I wrote the piece in November, several days after the racist clip emerged on the site, and discussed my belief that, while the ignorant woman in question deserved punishment from the authorities, it was not the public’s job to do this, and creating a vigilante mob mentality to victimise her was ill advised. Again, this was, right or wrong, simply my opinion. Yet not only did someone object rather strongly to my thoughts, but they also wrote several rather personal comments on it, for instance my alleged failure to address the main issues of the situation due to my preoccupation with using fancy words.

In truth, I do not feel offended when such comments are posted on my blog, and the kind ones have hugely outweighed the two negative posts I’ve received in the past week. I always have, and always will, maintain that comments of any kind should be used as constructive feedback to improve one’s writing. But what did irk me was the fact this latest commenter refused to leave their name on their post. To feel so strongly compelled to write a rude post on someone’s blog is one thing, but not even to share your identity? It just screamed of being, to put it as a five year old might, a chicken. If you want to say something, fine, but at least have the guts to put your name to your own work. My opinions may not always be right, but I would never dream of feigning anonymity. If you have something to say, do it with conviction, and don’t use online anonymity as an excuse for plain rudeness.

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One thought on “Blog comments: A Tale of Poison Penmanship

  1. One of my coursemates did his dissertation on online censorship, and spent a lot of time talking about the ways in which the capacity to express yourself anonymously online changes the way people behave in a way which no ‘real-life’ medium could ever achieve. In other words, some people are dicks on the internet!

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