Because yesterday’s post was pretty heavy and has elicited some intense discussion (read: people flaming each other needlessly) I thought I’d keep it light today. But I do want to talk about comments which I’ll do at the end.
So, this house has become bedlam.
The last few days the kids have been sick with a nasty flu
and there have been lots of bodily fluids coming from orifices up in this joint. At one point, Lolly explained that Gatorade would help the girls with hydration, and that it would help them feel better. I was not present for this discussion.
Which is why I stopped dead in my tracks when I came downstairs this morning and Anna said “Daddy, can I have some Diarrhea Juice?”
Seriously, Anna? You’ve been leaking the stuff for two days and now you want to drink it?
“Some what?” I asked.
“Diarrhea Juice,” she said and then opened the fridge and pointed to the Gatorade. And I sighed deeply with relief.
She only wanted Gatorade.
So, I did what any good father would do and I poured my daughter a tall, cool glass of Diarrhea Juice. And she drank that Diarrhea Juice up. Every last drop of it! And she enjoyed the delicious flavor and texture of her Diarrhea Juice… (I’m probably never, ever going to get tired of this joke but I’ll stop now.)
Anyway, the bad news is that today, Lolly got sick, so she feels like crap. And now I’m just waiting for it to hit.
But, the trouble is, I’m going on an eight mile hike tomorrow morning. Seriously.
So, every single one of you, religious creeds notwithstanding, pray that I don’t get diarrhea on mile four of my hike. Please. We do not, I repeat, do NOT need a repeat performance of this memorable morning.
(But you better believe that if any such thing happens, you will be hearing about it…)
Okay, and before I go, let’s talk about comments mmmkay?
So, I get it. Yesterday I opened the door to talking about the gay issue as I have done in the past. And, like instances in the past, the comments eventually devolved into a really counterproductive (in some instances) flame-war where people of different ideological divides attacked each other, called each other condescending, questioned each other’s beliefs, and all in all disrespected one another. (Obviously there were many comments that didn’t do that, and for that I am thankful.)
This has been a problem. It has happened to such a degree in the past that I have literally removed entire posts (really really good posts that I liked) whose comment sections got so mean, attacking and counterproductive that the original post was absolutely lost in the madness.
I really don’t like that this is happening. I’d love it if you’d help me in trying to make it stop.
Which is why I would like to propose some guidelines for commenting.
1. After you read a post, focus on what you can offer in response to the post. This blog is not a forum. It is not appropriate to enter thread after thread and share your opinions on every topic or idea that is shared in response to the original post.
2. If you disagree with someone, take a deep breath and think twice about telling them. You are not here to correct the masses. You are not here to tout your personal dogmatic philosophy (whichever that is). Hopefully you are here to contribute some new and interesting thoughts in response to a blog post. I really, really love what people have to say on my blog and have asked for advice and thoughts many times because there are so many wonderful, intelligent people who are willing to share their thoughts. You are all brilliant, and so gracious to share thoughts. Don’t get caught in a flame war. Share a new, independent thought that attacks nobody, or perhaps choose to wait for another post to share.
3. If you simply must disagree with someone, please be nice. Be respectful. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Let them know that you don’t mean to attack, but that you are simply clarifying an idea. If you find yourself doing this once on one post, you’re probably a human being. Twice? You might want to examine why you are here. Three times? Probably you should go put some herbal tea on the stove, turn on some of your favorite music, and lose yourself in a really great book. I promise you will feel better that way.
4. If you find yourself feeling frustrated by the comments or by other commenters, it might be time to move on to something else. Feeling that way is probably a sign that you are getting fatigued by conflict, which means the discussion is no longer a healthy discourse. Healthy discourse is crucial to deepening understanding, and I welcome it and treasure it. But the feel of healthy discourse is usually respectful, open, mind-expanding, eye-opening and exciting. It leads you to want to read more, and want to know what others think so that you can understand people and ideas with more depth. If you are feeling things like annoyed, offended, defensive, attacked or “tired of people who [fill in the blank]” it means you are no longer engaging in healthy discourse. Don’t waste your time on that. Go for a nice walk in the September air and enjoy any last summer sunshine you can.
I want the feel of the discussions on this blog to be open and honest and vulnerable and real. I have confidence that if we follow these guidelines we can make that happen as it has happened in the past.
Several commenters were concerned, essentially, that the above paragraphs about commenting didn’t take into account the fact that discussion of hard topics will mean divergent opinions. There was also some implication that the above paragraphs were an attempt to protect myself against people thinking or saying things I disagree with.
Here’s my response with all my typos in tact (you can see the comments this responds to below if you’re interested–it’s approximately the 8th comment down):
Shayla et al.
I appreciate your support and ideas here. Allow me to clarify a couple of points.
First, I apologize if the “herbal tea” comment sounded condescending. Totally wasn’t my intent at all. I actually met it very literally. (I was speaking from a very “counselor” place at that moment, literally saying that if you find yourself obsessed with commenting on a blog (I’ve actually read people on forums say that they needed a 12 step program to ween themselves from commenting on my blog and disputing with other commenters, ha!) it would probably make them feel better to find a more calming, self-care type of activity that will help them feel good. Sorry if that came off wrong 😉
As far as me, if I am bringing up hard topics, being “prepared that there are those that will openly share their opinion that my be contrary to [my] own thoughts,” I think you are misunderstanding what I’m saying. I encourage people to respond directly to my original post (as I said in this post itself). Rest assured, I am very very well accustomed to people not agreeing with me and my skin is quite thick. In other words, my admonitions are not about me not being able to handle other people’s viewpoints–I love the richness of dialogue that has occurred here, and frankly, while I appreciate a good blog comment that helps me think in new ways, I’ve encountered MUCH more challenging affronts to my position and situation than comments on my blog.
What I am attempting to thwart are sub-discussions between commenters that are very attacking, vicious and vitriolic. (Rarely are those things lobbed at me, interestingly, but more to other commenters.) I want to discourage this because 1. it doesn’t allow for a safe place to discuss issues, and 2. it breaks my heart for certain very innocent and well-meaning commenters.
For example, a month ago, there was a post that I decided to remove entirely. On that post, there was a comment from an ooold family friend to Lolly and me who lived in the ward we both grew up in. It was a sweet, very sincere comment asking some questions about my homosexuality. It showed that she hadn’t had much experience with the subject, was trying to process new ideas, and it wasn’t abrasive at all. The sequence of responses to that sweet lady from my childhood stunned me and made me ill–she was vilified, called names, called ignorant, and attacked viciously. I have tried to contact her to personally apologize that that happened, but I haven’t been able to find her. (It’s you, Vicky H. if you’re reading. So sorry!) It was that exchange, mainly, that convinced me to take down the entire post.
That should not have happened. We need to be better. Yes this is a sensitive topic and yes people have strong opinions. But I am getting to the point where I must refuse to stand idly by while people are demeaned and vilified and attacked. (And these attacks come from ALL sides of the issue, btw.)
In yesterday’s post, for example, a young teen was questioned for his comment, a man in a difficult situation was berated and demeaned for his struggles and, and again here’s where it gets personal, one of my sweet seminary students from last year was attacked for a very innocuous comment.
I am trying my best to foster an environment where such things don’t happen. I, personally, think we can do it. Maybe I’m wrong. But I take attacks on commenters to my posts seriously, and I want to do everything I can to make this an environment where, while we may disagree and have strong opinions, we can still be civil and respectful of one another. Sorry for any way in which I fail to achieve that, or contribute to the problem.