Last week, a personal essay of mine appeared on Tablet Magazine online. As it hit the front page, I braced myself. A couple of my previous contributions to Tablet received a lot of comments…including a bunch of nasty ones. I figured this latest essay–about being Jewish during the holiday season–might ruffle the feathers of readers.
A couple days after the story was published, much to my surprise, there were just a few comments on my article (four, to be exact, and my responses to each). On Tuesday, I mentioned my concern to my sister…because while I hardly missed the harsh comments and trolls, I thought a shortage of comments in general might be cause to worry. Was nobody reading my article?
Well, my sister said, have you checked out the Tablet Facebook page?
You see, I had only opened a Facebook account the week before my article appeared. For years, I scorned Facebook. But when Tablet went to a FB-based comments system, I had to take the plunge. How else would I respond to my readers’ comments?
When I checked out the Facebook page for Tablet, I discovered that the marketing department at the magazine had tempted their FB followers to read my article with a teaser question about how they felt about Xmas cheer.
And boy, that post had gotten a lot of comments. Lots of annoyed, disgusted, angry comments by people who had mostly not read my article.
Some of these comments were the kind that I can respect: they disagreed with my opinions, but weren’t personal attacks. Their take on the issue, while different than mine, was at least thought-out. But in the midst of those comments, I found where the trolls had been lurking. Several comments were just nasty, pointed jabs with no basis in anything I’d written (in a couple cases, without regard to the question posed by the Tablet editors).
The funny thing was that the most annoying comments fell into the same categories as the most annoying comments on my other Tablet pieces. And so, I will share with you now…
My 3 Least Favorite Comments to Find on My Articles:
- You should make aliyah. Like that’s going to fix every problem in the world? The people who make aliyah because they think it’s a panacea for all the disasters in their personal lives are the people who bounce back to the U.S. in a year or two. Also, this comment stumbles onto a sore spot for me. My husband and I have wanted to make aliyah for years…but G-d seems to have other plans.
- Because it’s all about you. If you don’t want to hear a writer tell about their personal journey through life, if you don’t like to read the first-person POV–why the heck are you reading a personal essay at all? The whole point of reading personal essays is for readers to broaden their horizons by reading about people whose life experiences differ from their own. And someone has to write them. Sometimes that someone is me. And I’m nice–really.
- Any comment that makes assumptions about my article’s contents based on limited information (just the headline, knowledge that I’m an Orthodox Jew, whatever), with complete disregard of the actual statements made in the article. Commenter type #3 just spews whatever is on their own mind, rather than actually ingesting and contemplating anyone else’s opinion. I kind think that the teaser question on the Tablet page set me up for this kind of comment…because people could just vent in response to the question without any effort to get full knowledge of the situation.
(Maybe I should make a shidduch between the #2 kind of commenter and the #3 kind. What do you think?)
7 thoughts on “The 3 Comments I Hate to Find on my Articles”
I just think the fact that you are putting yourself out there says something about you that it doesn’t say for a lot of others. Those who usually belittle us are insecure themselves and don’t have the courage to do what you are doing. I enjoy your articles, even the ones I may not agree with. I also think people can be very nasty through the internet because it’s safe for them. It’s not face to face. Sorry some people are just wrong.
Thanks for the vote of confidence!
It’s funny that you mention the relative safety of attacking through the internet. I was told by the folks at Tablet that they’d switched to the FB comments system because at least FB accounts require a real person behind them, supposedly giving more social consequence to trolling.
But people seem to have no problem sharing all sorts of inappropriate things on FB, let alone saying annoying stuff. I just don’t get it.
I didn’t read the original article that you mention, but I’m always shocked at how much comments get to me sometimes. I can let one icky comment mess up my mood for the rest of the day. Then I’m like, what on earth??? I know all the self-talk to practice, why don’t I just practice it? Your #2 is so true. I actually love when people disagree with me in a mature, interesting, engaging way. This makes me think, hard, and sometimes reevaluate my stance. It’s one of my favorite parts of blogging. Of course having lots of people agree with me is FUN, but it doesn’t move me forward any.
I also like a lively, but considerate debate. That’s one of the advantages to publishing on the internet (either by blog post or in an online magazine). When my stories are published in print magazines, I miss that debate!
Thanks for visiting my site (and it’s reminding me to visit your wonderful blog again)!
I tend to look at commentators in the same way I look at drivers. Some drivers are very careful and considerate. They don’t cut in front of you at the last minute, or tailgate you because you’re going the speed limit, or honk at you because the light has been green for half a second and you aren’t already halfway across the intersection. They understand that even though the two of you may be ultimately headed in different directions, you both have a right to be on the road and so there is a respectful give and take. Others think they own the road and they’re interested only in themselves. The latter are unpleasant to deal with, but the only way to avoid them entirely is to not go on the journey at all.
As a writer, I try not to let the purely negative comments/reviews bother me too much. But when I’m reading the blog of someone else and I see there are several negative comments, I don’t continue to read the comments. I can decide for myself if I agree or disagree with the blogger, and who needs all that negative energy in your life?
What you said about the negative comments on other people’s blog posts interested me. I hadn’t thought about it consciously, but I often do the same. I think I take the nasty things people say about other people worse than what they say about me. If people bring up criticism of the idea instead of the person, it creates conversation, but when the criticism is of the author, I tend to just move on.