This is the sixteenth installment of Barren Advice. You can ask questions that are fertility or non-fertility related.
Barren Advice is posted each Tuesday. If you have your own question for Barren Advice, click here to learn how to submit. Please weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section and indicate which question you're addressing if there are multiple questions in the post.
It seems my blog has been found by fanatical people who are leaving crappy comments about their agenda. I don't want to be password protected. I don't want my blog to be a place where we argue the moral and ethical repercussions of fertility treatments, adoption, or loss. I hate the idea of shutting people off, but that might be where I am. I could just turn on comment moderation, but that means I'll still see these people's posts. I feel like I have lost my blog.
What do I do now?
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that most people know not to shit on my living room floor. I am basing this on the fact that no one over the age of four has ever taken a dump in my living room. Therefore, I find it puzzling that the same people who know better than to go into someone's home and insult their decorating style or spit out their half-chewed dinner onto their plate or defecate on a stainmaster carpet essentially crap in someone's comment section.
Because what is a blog other than a virtual home for your thoughts?
There are those who say that when you put your thoughts out there, other people have the right to respond to them. And I agree with that, somewhat. As long as we're following the same social contract that dictates our face-to-face interactions when we operate in the online world, I think that there is room in the comment section for disagreement, challenge, or compliments. If people behaved online as they do when they're visiting their grandmother in Albany, we would not find the Internet awash in crappy comments, their sole reason for existence to insult and belittle another human being or to push one's own agenda.
I approach my comment box with this philosophy: my home is my home and I get to choose what remains here. I don't allow solicitors to hang up ads in my real house. I throw ads out without looking at them when solicitors slip them through my door knob. Therefore, if someone leaves a comment that is obviously meant to sell a product or site, I delete just as I do actual pieces of paper that make their way to my brick-and-mortar home. Of course, this means that I am determining the commentor's intent without being able to discuss this with them. But I think I'm generally a good judge of what is an ad and what is a helpful comment that happens to include a reference to a product or site.
I also would not invite someone over who looks like they might defecate on my floor. With a blog, I don't have the luxury of setting the guest list unless I go invite-only. But I don't need to leave garbage on the floor. If someone leaves shit, I throw away shit. And shit, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. But if the comment doesn't actually address what I'm speaking about in the post and attacks me rather than the idea, I consider it garbage.
Some people leave up hateful comments, but I don't for two reasons. (1) If it made me feel shitty, it may possibly make another person feel shitty so I remove it and (2) those comments give voice to someone else's agenda. And they are subjecting my readership to their agenda. And frankly, if their words were worth anything, they would have their own readership. Blogs are free; anyone can start one. Therefore, if you want to create a site spouting off your feelings about fertility treatments, adoption, or loss, you may. And you should. You should express yourself and hopefully, you will attract readers who are interested in your writing--either because they agree with the message or they want to engage in dialogue.
But people should not use your blog in order to discuss their agenda. Which is why I recommend the delete button.
By which I don't mean that you should delete anyone who disagrees with you but you should delete the comments that are attacking, rude, or admonishing. I think of it the same way we approach language in our home. The twins are allowed to say any word they wish as long as they're not saying it in anger. Which means every curse word is fine in our house and while they only know a few, I will still feel the same way when more colourful terms are introduced to their vocabulary. I am completely fine with hearing the word "bitch" used in a sentence as long as it's not snarled at another person as an insult.
Which is a long way of saying that I'm fine with any other person's idea, but it's how they're saying it. If they're putting down my ideas in order to promote theirs, belittling me, insulting my beliefs, or mocking other commentors, they get deleted. But if they are acknowledging my ideas or beliefs or nodding towards other commentors and then stating their own point-of-view, I am fine with anything they want to say. Not just fine--I want to hear it. That is the point of the comment section for me. It is a dialogue box where people can react to the post and speak to me as they would if I were stating these words to them face-to-face.
Again, intent is determined by the blog owner, and I clearly state that in my "all about me" section the reasons why I would delete a comment. I may delete someone's comment and they may disagree that it was rude or insulting. If they wrote me directly, and I make my email address pretty accessible, confused as to why their comment was removed and apologizing for any assumed ill-intent, I would most likely replace their comment. But I've never removed a comment and had that type of meaningful conversation. Instead, I get a follow-up comment that is ruder. So...I think that probably supports my earlier assumption about intent.
Not everyone runs their blog like this and I'd love to hear how others deal with rude and anonymous comments. If they keep the comments up, I'd love to hear why. Who knows--you may convince me to change my reaction.
Of course, this doesn't solve the second problem which is that even if you engage in some form of comment moderation, you are still subjected to the rude words. You are reading them in order to delete them or post them. For that, you will need to ask someone else to take over the job of moderating comments on your blog. Or you will need to see these types of comments as shit on the living room floor. You wouldn't look at someone else's feces as commentary on you--you would see it as a statement about their own lack of manners. And, perhaps, that is the only way to deal with those types of comments. Know they are spoken by people who do not have your best interests at heart. And dismiss them with a little bit of pity that no one taught them good manners.
No really, the beauty of a blog advice column is that you get to weigh in with your two cents too. Let the questioner know if you support the advice, add to the response, or dispute it completely.
Leave a comment in the reaction box below--only keep in mind that conflicting advice is embraced and rudeness is not. Want to ask your own question? Click here to see what you need to send in order to be included in a future Tuesday's installment of Barren Advice.