October 3, 2013

Two Things to do before leaving a Critical Comment on Elephant.

*An update from Waylon, 10 years later: How to Deal with Mean People, Trolls, & Personal Attacks. ~ Waylon


Firstly, always good to take a breath, and let your mind and heart kinda come up with a response (or course of action if you don’t want to respond) through the breath instead of through your thoughts/ego/offense/anger. If you reply, or not, really depends on this triangle.

Where do the comments fall?

Then, there’s tons of ways to go. Sometimes not blocking and being really polite inspires others to side with you/sanity, and can (but you can’t count on it) inspire the angry person if they’re sane and have a good point to discuss in a respectful way. But if they’re purely trolling, just block, keep it simple. Less is more. If they’re angry but someone you respect who’s being respectful, it’s best to listen and probably DM, take it off the soapbox.


“The first one to raise their voice loses.”

Name-calling. It ain’t helpful. Here, in Boulder, there’s passionate environmentalists, and younger folks call ’em NIMBYs. Both sides have good points, but when we start calling one another names, we objectify the “other.” We turn ourselves closed-minded.

It’s too easy to be a jerk, online. We can do better—and in slowing down, and being kind yet frank, we just might make a kinder community—communities that can actually fix problems, and…well, save our planet.

Without working together, we’ll head toward the brick wall of divisive hate and climate change unable to fix anything:


yoga body

1. Let’s all try and offer one positive, appreciative, or thoughtful comment or opinion for every criticism or complaint. Together, we can create a fun, constructive comment environment.

2. Don’t see something you want to see more of? Contribute it. We’re reader-created.

Most of our comments, and our readership generally, are kind, positive, thoughtful and appreciative. I’m proud of this community we’ve all created together. It’s full of love. But we can do better. Criticism of any article is (more than) welcome, if it’s constructive: our mission is to create a forum for meaningful dialogue among those who may not otherwise connect. Only rarely do we have to delete the kinds of comments that are so common on other sites—ad hominem personal attacks, and the (dis)like.

And yet, still, there’s a thread through many of the critiques, even the thoughtful ones I agree with heartily (like Irene’s, below): a thread that reflects the us-them culture of conventional media. elephant is not other. We are you. We are not corporate-owned. We are reader-written. We’re grassroots-created. Community-driven.

This recent comment has six “likes.” It’s about a great article (that got dozens of likes and shares, to be fair) by Chelsea Roff featuring a photo of a curvy African-American woman:

Irene XXXX: This woman is from a Dove pro-aging ad and has nothing to do with yoga. Could Elephant Journal not find a real picture of someone who actually has a yoga practice who is not thin and young? You can do it EJ, there are real women to chose from who do yoga and are all shapes and sizes. Maybe those of us who love Elephant Journal can respectfully request to include more pictures in articles of a diverse range of sizes and ethnicity. I for one would be so grateful.

Elephant Yoga: We’re reader-created. So send some in, instead of merely complaining! We’re with you. And I’d like to point out this reader-chosen image fits your criteria, and yet, yes, your comment has six upvotes. This side of the fence, given that we’re one community, can feel thankless. Have you left thankful comments before or our readers or editors?

Have you contributed? You’re more than cordially invited to do so. We are you. http://www.elephantjournal.com/submit

Finally, I must add that I glanced at Irene’s page, as she did ours, and while ours has an endless diversity of images, hers had six public images: every one of them a beautiful illustration of thin, tall, white women (some in mermaid form).

And so we throw stones in glass houses, aiming at others because it’s easier than aiming at our own hearts.

Yours in the Vision of Enlightened Society,

Waylon Lewis


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