A few choice quotes from Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams about why you should never read the comments on your own pieces — or ever, really. Needless to say, I agree.
I used to believe that as an online writer, I had an obligation to read the comments. I thought that it was important from a fact-checking perspective, that it somehow would help me grow as a writer. What I’ve learned is that if there’s something wrong or important or even, sometimes, good about a story, someone will let you know.
I want it to be better. But it’s just not.
[Not reading comments has] calmed the negative chatter in my head and it’s made my experience of the Internet a whole lot healthier. I highly recommend it.
Talk about (as I often do) the differences between print and online! This is one of the bigger ones, in terms of psychic drain if nothing else. I don’t know how it got this bad, but it did. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the general (lack of) discourse in the public and political arenas nowadays. Perhaps the technology has made it permissible. Perhaps I’m just sensitive. In any case, my self-protective instincts, like Williams’s, just make me want to disengage completely.
I feel about Internet comments roughly the same way I’ve started to feel about television news, with its know-nothing talking heads and lowest-common-denominator coverage made for an attention span–less public that’s apparently eager to share their opinions (about which I care very little). They’re both icky and make me feel bad, angry and frustrated.
Two recent and related stories about others who are taking the opposite stance from the “just walk away” model and are actively trying to make the Internet better:
- How the Huffington Post handles 70+ million comments a year
- Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web
Good luck to them — to us all.