At BlogHer, a site I have been posting on daily since last November, NaBloPoMo is focusing on commenting for June. I usually ignore writing prompts but this month the topic is challenging, prodding me to think and write about stuff I usually snuff off. I was to formulate some sort of commenting guidelines today, however, my only guideline is to encourage comments that are interactive and positive. People are free to disagree with me; in fact, I am grateful to have people point out a fallacy in my facts or in my thinking because it helps me learn and grow as a person and as a writer.
As for negative or angry comments, I have finally become smart enough to understand that the best response to angry comments is silence.
I can repeat or clarify a misunderstanding. I can attempt to reconcile opposing viewpoints but usually someone who is closed to any other opinion is the person to write a negative response. If they refuse to engage in positive dialogue, I don’t bother bashing my head against the wall.
Often an angry person wants to engage in a verbal fight. In fact he is purposefully antagonizing me. After living with teenagers, my husband and I quickly learned how to diffuse angry confrontations because they were unproductive. Angry feedback always reminds me of teenage outbursts. Here is a typical encounter at our house a few years ago.
One of my sons , in his early teens, had just announced that he could not stand living under our roof another minute,
“I’m out of here!”, he bellowed, “and don’t expect me to come back!”
The door slammed and he tore off on his ten speed bike. Of course my father was visiting and witnessed this dramatic episode. After a few minutes, my dad turned to my husband and wondered,
”Aren’t you going to go after him?”
Michael calmly kept reading, then looked up and explained,
“Oh, I’m not worried. The only place near enough to bike to is one of his buddies houses and they don’t feed kids over there. He’ll be back when he is hungry enough.”
No need to over-react. No need to lecture or argue. Just let nature take its course.
Most importantly. Do not take angry reactions personally. I would be in a mental health hospital if I took to heart every insult my teenagers hurled at me. Most negative feedback says more about the person commenting and his own emotions and reactions than it does about me or my opinions.
I ask myself, “Why is the respondent angry?”
He is not really critiquing my writing style, content or conclusions, especially if a vehement response attacks me the writer. That is just the release valve which is handy at the moment. My words triggered a dramatic attack because the commentator has issues. Issues that lay buried until some unsuspecting scapegoat like me pushes his buttons. I refuse to play those games.
Silence is often a better teacher than any ‘wisdom’ I could spout.