The Internet is a truly wondrous place. Without it I never would’ve started Waiter Rant, gotten noticed and become an author. So I guess I’m indebted to Vinton Cerf and all the people who made this amazing web of communication and ideas possible. And to think the Internet was originally designed to be a communication system in the event of a nuclear war. Go figure.
But the Internet has a dark side as well and no, I’m not talking about porn. The web allows people to speak to each other in relative anonymity and that is both a plus and a minus. And I say relative because I know law enforcement can track every email you send and web page you visit. The plusses of anonymity are that it initially allowed me write my blog without fear of repercussion and enables the powerless to have a voice and impact in society. The minuses? I fear too many people are using the web to foist the worst part of themselves onto other people.
The idea of the “chattering classes” isn’t the sole provenance of political pundits anymore. It’s a big part of the Internet as well, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, My Space, forums on topics big and small or the comments section on blogs like mine. Most people leave thoughtful, well written messages that make sense and contribute to the spirit of civil debate. But for a segment of the population the Internet provides them with an opportunity to finger-paint with their psychological feces.
I’m a big boy. I can handle criticism. When you write a blog and a book you have to roll with the punches. I’ve been lauded and condemned, panned and promoted not only on blogs and Amazon.com but in major newspapers as well. I’m used to it. It’s part of my job.
But lately the comments on my blog have been bothering me. While I welcome criticism, contrary ideas, grammar checks and a lively debate, the tone of some of the comments worry me. While the vast majority of my readers have been responsible there have been a few people whose comments are stupid, mean spirited and beyond the pale. And if you saw the comments that get caught in my moderation queue you’d know what I’m talking about – the hateful, genocidal, awful rants of diminished souls. Sometimes I think the comments section on blogs has become a place for people to talk over one another and not to each other. And in some ways it’s become a competition for people to outdo one other in nastiness.
So I have had my fill of knee jerk political correctness, trolls, victimization junkies who pick apart everything I write so they can have something to get angry about, half ass psychologists, spammers, and yes, people who write those long rambling diatribes. And you know what really drives me crazy? The first poster who goes, “First comment!” or “I got here first!” Those comments will always and forever be deleted.
I don’t want to turn the comments off. They’re a good source of feedback and I know you guys enjoy posting. But I’m torn as how to handle them in the future. Should I moderate them? Have people let it all hang out? I don’t know. But for now I’m content to take a break from the madness. I’m at a point in my life where I’m avoiding people who suck the energy out of me. Those reasons are personal and I won’t discuss them but some of the people who comment on this blog just piss me off.
So for the near future the comments will be off or at least until I get my next book wrapped up. But I will leave this one open for comments. If you were me what would you do? How would you handle it? Suggestions are welcome. And I’m sure a few trolls will still come out to play.
To all my good and faithful readers my shutting off the comments is not a reflection on you. It’s a reflection of my own weariness dealing with crazy energy sucking people. When I rest and recharge maybe things will be different. But for now it is what it is. And if you truly have something to tell me I can always be reached by email. I don’t always respond, but I read every one.
Thanks for reading this.