March 11, 2013

Over it! Why Anonymous Comments Are Meaningless, or Just Mean.


Let me tell you what I really think about the anonymous internet comments that plague just about every writer these days.

I think they suck.

On the one hand, I admit, it’s pretty nice to hear that I have supported, encouraged and given voice to millions (okay, maybe just a hundred or so) of people around the world who are looking to do better on the mat, and in their lives. I mostly hear from those people privately on email.

Then there are the ones who tell me that I am “a caddy (sic) unyogic bitch who should not be allowed to teach yoga.” Well, just to clear this up, I do not carry my husband’s golf clubs. But I can be kind of a bitch and I’m definitely not yogic all the time. It’s a lifelong endeavor.

According to the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, a study showed “that comments with enough vitriol will actually cause people to change the opinion they had after reading a nuanced, balanced article.”

I am not quoting this Journal. I am quoting Time magazine’s Joel Stein, who quoted this journal, because he hates this stuff as much as I do. And because he writes as many nuanced, balanced articles as I do, which are practically none, we both get a lot of anonymous internet comments.

So when the first comment on my blog is typically “I hate this writer and everything she says and she is such a stupid, bad person, and definitely not yogic and also I hate the way she looks and she’s not even vegan and everyone knows you need to be vegan before you can write about yoga, and I read two other articles by her that I didn’t like either. But there was maybe one sentence in this story that was okay.” I tend to get really excited and say, “Thank you!”

So surprise, the comments actually do change people’s minds! In fact, most of my friends used to think I was brilliant and funny and insanely wise after reading my book, Finding More on the Mat. But now that I write for  elephant journal, they think I am just insane.

Girlfriend:            How do you deal with those comments?

Me:                       With Xanax and Vodka. But not together.

GF:                        I thought you were going to say meditation.

Me:                       I tried meditation. But my way is better.

To put the internet comments into perspective, let’s talk about my recent blog which a lot of people hated.

That blog generated about 3,500 reads. Out of 3,500 unique hits, 190 “likes” were recorded on Facebook. There were 64 comments, 20 of which were from people who were negative. So 20 negative commentators out of 3,500 reads is .0057 percent, which is not even one percent! I piss off way more people just going to the grocery store.

Right about now I can hear my editors’ huffing and puffing about the importance of the comments and how they build a unique and loving community which together we will learn and grow and change the world. To which I say, sure.

In the meantime, I am letting everyone know that I am taking a lesson from Mr. Stein and I will not be reading the comments from this blog. I already know I’m not yogic or perfect, and I also know that in some people’s opinions, at least 20 of them, that I will probably go to hell for writing a crap article.

Meanwhile, if you want me you can find me cleaning my husband’s golf clubs because you never know, they may be right. Perhaps I am just a caddy bitch after all.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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