Happy Monday, everyone!
This post was actually an idea about a month or so ago. I figured that now is as good of a time as any to hit “publish” and share my thoughts on a piece of advice that is generally given to every content creator on the Internet.
Published near the end of this past January, “Don’t Read the Comments” by Eric Smith is a story about navigating the harsh online world of harassment and doxxing while also showcasing how beautiful online friendships can be. It was a decent, cute story. There will be no spoilers here, and I hope there will be no spoilers in the comments.
As bloggers, comments are our main way of interacting with readers. However, don’t read the comments is a common piece of advice for those who put themselves out on the Internet, mainly while streaming or on YouTube. Let’s be real, everyone reads the comments. So why does that piece of advice — to ignore the comments, to be blissfully ignorant of them — stand out?
The advice at its simplest is to prevent your feelings from being hurt. Don’t engage with the trolls. They’re looking for a rise out of you. Just ignore them. They’ll get bored eventually.
Sounds a lot like the advice you give your kid on the playground when someone else’s spawn makes fun of your kid’s shirt, doesn’t it?
Giving the human race the benefit of the doubt, the majority of people in the comments and reply sections are polite, courteous, perhaps interested in healthy debate, and it’s one of the best ways for people to communicate and reach out on the Internet. But then there are those trolls, people who argue for the sake of arguing and wish to use their words to hurt the author. Most of the time, it seems to “merely” be online. Yet, other times, it’s physical threats.
Gamergate, a movement that literally forced women gaming journalists and developers out of their homes due to rape and death threats. Bianca Devins’ murder just last year. Check out all the angry, anti-feminist tweets from boys complaining about women-driven movies like Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, and Birds of Prey. As a woman, this is what I mainly see, and I know that people who identify as anything other than female are not safe from disparaging comments either.
With all that said, it just highlights even more how thoughtful and kind comments can make a creator’s day. Mental health awareness is more prevalent than ever, and it is not a coincidence that this awareness has risen in accordance with how much of our lives is spent online. While negativity stays with us much longer than positive interactions, since our brains are wired to do so — it is one of the many reasons our brain alerts us to danger, to try to keep us out of harm’s way, but it can still suck — a positive comment or helpful critique allows us to retrain our brain to pump out endorphins.
So, since everyone reads the comments, try to be that person that is helpful to the creator. We’re all fighting our own battles.