One thing I’ve learned while publishing my writing is that I’ll have to acquire a ‘thick skin’ (and since I’m generally sensitive, this is easier said than done).
And it’s needed not because there are those who don’t particularly like my style (whatever it may be), or due to the fact that some may simply disagree with my content or thoughts — that all happens anyway and is par for the course.
You see, the reason why a thicker skin comes in handy is because the comment sections (for certain online publications) have the potential to transform into an explosive minefield of rudeness.
I’m beginning to realize that you’re going to touch some, but you can’t touch everyone — which could apply to other facets of life as well. There are going to be individuals who just aren’t jiving with your work; however, it’s disturbing to see how commenters on any article (not just mine) choose to express their distaste or their opposing viewpoints. It’s incredibly disconcerting to pore through comments, directly tied to an article (and therefore its author), and discover insulting and vicious remarks.
Comments may range from “you’re such an awful person,” to “you seriously need help,” along with other colorful language and sentiments, and while I get that this is the Age of the Internet, and it’s difficult to escape, I always wonder if it’s really necessary.
One of my favorite writers, Chelsea Fagan, couldn’t have addressed this issue more perfectly (especially in terms of mean-spirited commentary following an article that’s raw and open), in this piece:
Whenever I read an article or post in which someone tears down another person’s work or opinion, not in sincere anger, but in flippant dismissal — I become profoundly sad. The writer is clearly scoring points on some invisible scoreboard for how above the fray of messy emotion and incisive they are, all at the expense of another person, whose sole crime was often being too earnest and oblivious.
There is nothing wrong with disagreement of course, but the ‘call-out-culture’ delivery that seems to take such lip-smacking delight in putting another human being in the shame corner for having felt too strongly about something seems the antithesis of human connection.
I find that it takes great amounts of courage to put yourself out there (your own insecurities, your flaws, your heart), and it also saddens me to see such vulgarity at the end of the writer’s story that he or she sincerely told.
That kind of commentary also brings up the question: why do some people go out of their way to put others down?
Catherine Pratt’s post on her positive psychology website succinctly explains the root of hurting others in various capacities:
Some people are very negative about others because they tend to make themselves feel like they’re in control or more powerful to cover up their own insecurities, or they’ve experienced a trauma of their own in the past, and they don’t know how to deal with the pain, so they’ll hurt others as a defense mechanism.
When it’s realized that these put-downs mirror their own discomfort, and these methods are utilized to heal their own wounds, one can sympathize.
Ian H. Robertson, Ph.D. talked about how bullying can be viewed as a byproduct of circumstance. It’s possible that one person might ignite a chain reaction, where others join in on the endeavor as well. Since discussion platforms for articles are public domain, I’ve noticed a ‘tag-team’ effect, where several individuals gang up on the writer in crude fashion.
It’s already established that certain celebrities have to deal with harsh media coverage on a fairly frequent basis, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they choose to avert their eyes from the reviews and away from the hype. Well, I suppose online writers can simply ignore the destructive critiques too. After all, it’s more of a reflection on those who comment than anything else.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Sep 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Suval, L. (2013). Commenting on Those Who Comment. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/09/04/commenting-on-those-who-comment/