Public Service Announcement: The Purpose of a Personal Blog

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It’s Monday and I need to let off some steam.


What Ticked Me Off This Past Week

On Saturday, May 21, 2016, I received one of the stupidest comments I had ever received. It was not on this blog but elsewhere.  I’m posting this message here because WordPress has a better blogging community.

I took the time to pick apart the arguments of the commenter. I went after them hard.

It’s a shame, too, because I had respected her from a distance and I thought she was a good poster. I’m still pissed at her now.

She probably didn’t read my response, but if she did, I guess she knows not to respond back. Regardless, I’m glad I said what I did (in the blog post and my response), because those things needed to be said.

What was I complaining about? “Professional” correspondence. I think it’s an issue, yet  part of a larger problem about professionalism and the lack thereof. I had actually made other posts about a lack of professionalism at different levels. So yeah, the comment on my post was even more ignorant in retrospect.

If you ever tried to find a new job or deal with a company that you are paying for a service, you probably had to deal with hacks.

  • What would you say if someone sent you a patronizing email?
  • What would you think if they spammed your inbox?
  • What if an agent cursed you out on the phone?
  • What if a delivery person damaged your property or lost it?

Should you not be pissed? Do you not have a right to complain?

I just want to say my peace on this thing and move on.


What Is the Purpose of a Personal Blog?

From my view:

A personal blog, while viewable to the public, exists primarily for the person that created it. An audience might be welcome and appreciated, like on this blog. In fact, there might be a target audience, like on this blog. But the personal platform was created for the blogger to talk about things they want to talk about. If they use their platform to complain, even about trivial things, that’s what it’s there for.

We may read and follow others people’s blogs. We may comment on them if comments are open, but these blogs are not there primarily for the readers. I don’t think enough people get that.

We may not like the subject matter the owner of the blog writes about. We may not like the blogger’s writing style. We may not like the owner’s opinions, but no one has to read the blog, let alone leave comments on it.

If there is an open comments section on any post, it exists as a courtesy. That can be closed or opened at the will of the blogger. The blogger could also moderate comments if they want. If people don’t like it, that’s tough. Again, no one has to read another person’s blog let alone leave a comment on it.

Since a visitor is a visitor, they are going into another person’s space, and should try to be respectful. The visitor may disagree with what the owner of the blog writes. Most bloggers will welcome disagreements. But at no point are readers free to dismiss the messages of a serious post or throw around ad hominems without being called out on it.

If a commenter:

  • Only hones in on the heat of a complaint.
  • Ignores how the writer addresses any counter arguments.
  • Ignores all the other, valid points of a post.
  • Patronizes the writer.
  • Insults the writer.
  • Brings up shit the blogger doesn’t even care about right after disregarding the blogger’s complaints.
  • Tells the blogger that they need to use a PAID service that they might not have the time or money to take advantage of.*
  • Forgets the reason why the blog exists, i.e., for the blogger first and foremost.

Frankly, that commenter is being an ass. That person should expect to be savaged or to have their stupid little arguments torn apart. If that happens, the commenter should quit while they’re behind and GTFO.

(*And one of those types of commenter sins might come in the form of a spam post.)

Now, if a reader is blocked just for having fair, dissenting arguments, the blog owner is wrong. A blogger is also wrong if they heavily edit other people’s comments. And a blog writer is awful if they make blog posts to call out another blogger by name who is in the same blogging community to ridicule them and denigrate them. I won’t excuse that.

Otherwise, we all need to recognize why another person’s blog exists and respect their right to use their platform to vent sometimes. Not all thoughts need responses, for crying out loud.

Even if we think a post is whiny, perhaps it’s therapeutic for the writer to get those thoughts out. They might not be looking for sympathy, but the opportunity to express themselves in a constructive manner. So, what’s the point of getting that person angry all over again?

We can have our own blogs, too. Anyone reading this might have their own blogs. I may very well like them, but I realize they don’t exist for me.

And I know not to act up on anyone else’s site. Who wants someone else to be an ass on theirs? I didn’t think so.


What Is the Value of a Comment?

Yeah, people might have the freedom to leave comments. That doesn’t mean they should or have to sometimes.

Hell, a commenter might even be proving the blog owner’s points anyway. The poster I’m talking about kinda proved my points. Great job.

The simple fact is, many blog owners want one thing from comments: value.

What do I mean by “value”? Two words: substantive commenting.

When viewing blogs, readers may want value, too. They need to be able to get through the content and find things that interest them.

Yes, although blogs exist for their creators, a simple fact is most bloggers want to grow an audience. If someone is bored by my post, I would understand if they were to hit that back button and find something else they think is worth their time.

But as a blogger, I need value from anyone who posts a comment. Substantive comments — even with those with dissenting opinions — are welcome and encouraged. I don’t need everyone to agree with me all the time, but I like to know what other people are thinking and to see that they took the time to clearly state their thoughts.

Here are some more truths:

  • Not all comments are equal.
  • Disrespectful ones hold no real value beyond outing the commenter as an asshole.
  • Not all negative comments are bad and not all positive comments are good.

This might sound harsh, but it’s true. Even if we have the freedom to say anything, not everything needs to be said. Words have consequences.

This is not me trying to censor anyone, but there are times when we need to step back and take the time to organize our own thoughts. When we’re online, there is simply no excuse not to. It applies to anyone putting out content and those responding to it.


What Are Good and Bad Comments?

Getting that out of the way, I generally see these types of comments as good and bad. I might not be listing all the examples, but these are the ones I can immediately think of.

Let’s start with the bad ones first then move onto the good.

Bad Comments

“Life isn’t fair” (if the recipient of this message is past a certain age). This comes off as patronizing and it generally ignores what the blogger was talking about.

Anyway, we should have already been told this when we were kids. We internalized it already, but that doesn’t mean we can’t complain about life every now and then.

Complaining is a coping mechanism and may in fact help us gain perspective afterward.

“Well, I have it harder/someone else has it harder.” When this is said, it’s usually after someone outwardly trivialized and disregarded the blogger’s/poster’s complaints.

If you do this, do you honestly expect the person to whom you’re responding to turn around and care about your anecdotes? Really? Just so you know, they won’t and they might just verbally rip you a new one. You have been warned.

“What do you mean by ‘equality’?” This is semantics BS. If a post is about egalitarianism, there’s gonna be at least one person who breaks out this stupid question. Technically speaking, we are not equal in terms of physicality and abilities. Given what I said above about value, this still shouldn’t have an effect on human worth. Period.

“Get over it.” This is also patronizing and usually said by a hypocrite.

“Don’t let yourself get bullied.” This is in the realm of the above quote but even more ignorant. This basically absolves the bully/attacker, which is disgusting. I addressed this before, and I believe anyone who uses this argument is a weak debater overall.

“Maybe you just aren’t/weren’t good enough.”  Any commenter who left this would deserve getting cursed out. Seriously.

This comment is disrespectful and unneeded. No one needs to be told this shit, especially because they might already be grappling with this thought themselves.

Also, they may be contending with the reality that certain schools and school systems are a joke. Many people are graduating colleges without marketable skills and may need to go back in order to earn specific degrees. They should have been taught more in school and that begs the question of why those schools were being paid in the first place.

I would completely understand if a blogger complained about this type of experience. The real world is eye-opening. It sucks sometimes, and I think it’s cathartic for us to say that every now and then.

“Well, you shouldn’t have done that?” Oh, you think?

Sometimes, people go through things in order to comply with regulations or requirements. Simply choosing not to do some things may not be a choice, especially when people are led to believe that they MUST do those things to succeed.

“You’re acting like a petulant child.” Anyone who says this or anything close is probably being an asshole. Maybe the blogger is spoiled, but maybe they are just complaining just to feel better. What point is there to insult the intelligence of a person whose post you didn’t have to read?

Now, it’s a different story if someone posts on a message board with a “whiny” post. Still, it’s generally poor form to talk down to someone when you are reading their post and they didn’t necessarily talk down to you.

“This post is worthless/a waste of time.” But someone is wasting their time to comment on a “useless” post. Flawless logic.

“Great job.” or “Good Post.” You know, I like receiving these types of comments every now and then, but these are bad comments, if left by themselves. These should be part of a substantive comment. Why did the reader think a post was good? What did the writer do right? Please elaborate.

Good Comments

“I think you’re overreacting a bit.” This is really an alternative to the “petulant child” comment, but put more respectfully. The blogger might even be able to step back and agree with the commenter. See what a difference a little thoughtfulness and tact makes?

“I know how you feel.” or “I’ve been there.” If this is followed up with more detail, this is a good comment. Now, no one needs to feel the exact way I feel, but I want them to understand what I’m saying. If not, I don’t mind if someone asks for clarification. I would be more than happy to respond. That’s what the comment sections are there for.

“I disagree because…” Yes, even if you disagree with a post, it helps to point out why. Perhaps this generates a discussion. If not, a mature person would appreciate this comment anyway.

“This is how you can improve.” If the commenter isn’t a grammar nazi, this type of post could be extremely helpful.

Having said this, there will be people who go to other people’s blogs just to have a fight. It’s probably best not to respond to those individuals…after calling them assholes and saying that you won’t respond to them any longer. They probably should be blocked, too.


Bonus: An Example of Awful Correspondence

This is the general idea of what I was complaining about over the weekend.

Now, Imagine if person applied for a multitude of positions and in turn received offers from 5 or more companies. This person would have to turn down some of these companies because 1 or 2 had the best offers and compensatory packages. What would you think of this email to a company whose offer is being turned down:

From: <someone@somewhere.com>
To (CC or BCC): <jobs@company.com>
Title: Hey, Guys! About That Job Offer…

————————————————————–

Message: Dear [Company Name],

Thank you for responding to my application and offering me a position with your fine company.

Unfortunately, I will not take your offer. I have received a ton of other, better offers and I have to prune my short list.

Again, thanks for the offer. Good luck finding someone else to fill your open position! XD

Take care,
[Person’s Name]

Is this acceptable? Why should it be acceptable for a company to send this type of message to someone?

I know it seems petty in the scheme of things, but that’s not my point. What’s really going on here is that someone is adding insult to injury.

There’s a tinge of hypocrisy here, too. As people are told to be on their best behavior when applying for open positions or dealing with companies they are receiving services from, they receive no such promise from the companies themselves.

(And duh, I know that is how the world works. It still sucks ass.)

On top of that, it could be a sign that perhaps this company will not take good care of its employees. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” If it turns out that the company violates a number or labor laws and, stiffs freelancers, or it has a high turnover rate, wasn’t the terrible correspondence a red flag?

But no, the commenter I am referring to ignored this. In fact, she took my complaints at face value and separated them from the overall message.

She began with ad hominems and attacked my character then proceeded to give me an anecdote that I wouldn’t have a reason to give a damn about at that point.

She ironically answered my complaint about dismissiveness with her own dismissiveness.

That is why that comment I received from her was so stupid, thoughtless, and shitty. I don’t care how long it was, if offered nothing of value to me or the conversation.

And no, I am not attacking her, but her arguments, if indirectly. They were disappointing to say the least. Hers was a half-assed comment and that was worse than no comment at all.


My Point Is…

I don’t want to heavily moderate comments. I like keeping my comment section open and seeing new people find my posts. It’s better that way and more honest.

However, I won’t stand for trolls, bots, or Internet Tough Guys. Spam comments will be deleted. Comments that are useless might be called out and picked apart and Internet Tough Guys should be called out for being cowards. I don’t want to have to do this, but I will if need be.

Besides that, I appreciate all substantive and constructive feedback. Thanks go to everyone who has done this so far.

Sometimes, we need to let people use their blog how they see fit if they aren’t really hurting anyone. That is what it’s there for. If people don’t like it, they can move on and mind their own damn business.

That’s all I’m saying. If you don’t want trouble, don’t make trouble.

And no one wants another person to be an ass on their blogs. I’m just saying.

P.S.: Do you think I was overreacting? The comment section is open if you think so. Maybe I do need someone to talk me down.

P.P.S.: Someone might find this post and ridicule it. I don’t care, ’cuz I ain’t gonna read their shit anyway. Deal with it, nerds. (Wait, I like nerds, but not the angry kind who get buttmad at every stupid little thing and attack others incessantly.)

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