Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Negative blog comments and undue reader influence

How to handle negative reader comments is a slowly acquired skill. I doubt that any blogger has had smooth sailing all along. Every blog sooner or later gets hit with hostility or critique.

So, how does a blogger handle negative comments?

Delete any comment spam, hate speech remarks, and stupid off topic statements. Everyone knows that much. But what about constantly critical comments from a blogger you like?

Or continually flirtaceous come-ons by someone you wish to remain friends with, but don't want to intensify into romance?

Or a perpetual flow of silly, drunken-sounding comments?

Or a non-stop posting of racial slurs, sexist innuendos, religious animosity, or other annoying, unseemly, unenlightened vulgarities?

A reader of Vaspers the Grate in Southern India just emailed me an urgent plea. Don't rack your brains trying to figure out who this person is. I won't tell.

No names shall be revealed, and I will not take sides in the issue. But this email is a good example of the real "dark side of blogging", when blogging gets a bit tricky. Personal Blogs tend to have problems rarely seen in business or professional blogs.

Not being any kind of expert on women's relationships or on Southern India culture, I replied as best I could.


I have felt compelled to tell you this and kept questioning myself and my

But when i read your post about authentic blogging... i thought it
was applicable to my situation and decided to share it with you.

i have been having trouble in my mind regarding mostly [blogger name deleted].

i find that i don't want to post certain things on my blog now because of her reactions. she's so mother hennish.

i like it but i don't because i am allowing it to limit my authenticity. i am struggling with this. it's like i feel like she's my mom and like i don't want her reading my blog. i like that she cares about me. but i worry about worrying her.


so what i did was i had to start a new blog that does not reveal my identity and i am using it to confess all of my REAL thoughts and feelings about my life. this way, i do not have to worry that it will cause concern to my readership. the things that i write.

but i feel this desire to be known for who i really am-- warts and all. y'know what i mean?

it is very satisfying for me to confess my darker thoughts and my fears and negativity and the parts of myself i don't like. it's like it is my shadow blog. it even has a darker, more reckless and shadowy look to it. *sigh*

i sort of want you to read it. but, then i don't want to feel like anyone i know will read it and know it is me.

what do you think of this?

[blogger name]

[Now my reponse...]

steven streight replied:

You are both living in southern India, and female. It's difficult for me to comment on woman-to-woman relationships and interactions. Gender, nationality, and culture separate us, so this is not easy for me to comment on.

I know that South Indians have some respect for traditions passed down by allegedly noble ancestors, so your decision to start a new, secret anonymous blog is a bit of startling revelation. This, I admit, throws me out of whack. This, in effect, is transparency gone mad.

Men behave differently from women, in most cases I've seen, when it comes to debate, fighting, and individuality. Men tend to like aggression and confrontation. Males bond in a mutual respect friendship after beating the drunken crap out of each other. Women, on the other hand, would maybe plot revenge on the victor.

Women often dress to please, or submit to, other women. In some cultures, women are enslaved, oppressed, and not allowed to express themselves.

Do women blog to please, or submit to, other women?

I think that if someone is critical of you, constantly critical and nitpicky, that person is glorifying their alleged, assumed "superiority" as a woman, a person, a mother, a blogger, or whatever. This is not compassion, [phrase deleted] it is not seeing the bright side of a person, it is provoking or mocking or vilifying the darker side.

So I say, Do Not Change for anybody, no matter how much they claim to "like" you.

Women tend to think that liking someone means the object of the liking and the person doing the liking are indebted to each other in strange, womanly, emotional ways.

I would ignore drip drip drip constant critique. Or dismiss it with a joke. "I worship the ground you walk upon, even though it's quicksand."

Now... as for the internal dark side and expression:

I don't believe in expressing a dark side.

I believe, in most all metaphysical traditions, that one must get rid of darkness, light a candle, rather than curse, or glamorize, the dark in yourself.

Metaphysical traditions, Hindu and others, have various terms to describe this:

"scorch the seeds" (Patanjali's Yoga Sutras), "remove the klesas" (ibid), "extinguish craving" (Buddhist), "know thyself, but improve the self too" (Platonic), "transform the inner nature" (Mind Science), "crucify the flesh" or "renew the mind" (New Testament epistles).

I recommend you NOT reinforce or represent a dark side of yourself.

[Sentence deleted.]

Evil, sinister, cruel, masochistic, all these things are superficial, mostly conditioned, mis-directed drives.

For example, the martyr syndrome manifests itself through a person by the person always expressing self-pity, drama-queening, "woe is me, and nobody cares nor understands", "I have to work so much overtime" (when the truth is the person jerks around at work and gossips, shops for shoes online, when they should be working).

I have not seen your new, anon, dark blog, but if you really want me to see it, I'll look at it.

[sentence deleted]


So what do you think?

What's your opinion about...

* Too Much Transparency

* Blogging Your Dark Side

* Allowing Readers to Limit or Censor Your Blog ?

Email me...or post a comment here. Thanks.

[signed] steven streight aka vaspers the grate



zafu said...

I think it's ridiculous to start a blog on the side where one keeps a journal of real feelings and keep one that is "nice nice" and doesn't offend readers. If anything, abandon the old blog and don't people where you're going. But I wouldn't even go that far. I'd tell the mother-hen-reader to lay off.

Hey while you're giving advice, vaspers, I wonder if you could help me get my too-chatty co-worker to shut up. She goes on and on and on with all manner of unasked for commentary and opinion, recounting everything from the color of her little nephew's vomit to who gave her every piece of jewelry she wears. Plus she repeats what she's saying constantly, as if she needs to make sure you hear her. Now, I do feel compassion for her, I do... But I am having a hard time concentrating at work and it's putting my nerves on edge to constantly have her poking me on the shoulder so she can get my attention. I've asked her dozens of times to tone it down, and actively have to cut her conversations short telling her I must work, but if it's not with me she is chatting up (at full volume) one of the others in our (unfortunately) open floor plan office.

Since asking politely or even aggressively has not made a difference, can you suggest a way of cleverly getting her to shut up in spite of herself? I am begging for relief... anyone with any ideas. PLEASE.

steven edward streight said...

I must admit I deleted an entire Blogspot blog due to reader hostility.

It's a stupid story, but I'm glad I deleted it. However, on the other hand, I am disgusted that I bowed subserviently to another person's animosity.

I think it was called United Unchurchables, an anti-clerical spirituality blog. A pastor's wife, who later ripped me off about $300 on a direct marketing job I did for her business, said "I've been reading your blogs."

She made a sneerful look.

"What did you mean we are all already blessed with every spiritual blessing, and no new members class can add any blessing to what we already have. You don't like our new members class?"

I don't like church much at all. Too passive, programmed, alien in nearly every conceivable way to all true spiritual practice, no matter what faith one happens to be.

I see a unity in all good religions and philosophies. I like to stress the unity and not the strife-making, war-causing dissimilarities.

But she complained about my blogs. I wasn't all that happy having that blog, the writing was weak, the artwork was amateurish. I began to hate that United Unchurchables blog, not with her hate, but with my own. I deleted it.

I have deleted a client's blog because they changed their mind and rejected not only blogging, but also email. Weird. A cult leader of a women's group, I think it was secretly anti-male. My wife and I attended a meeting to show them a print out of the blog I created. My wife says she thinks the women were very put out and offended that a man was there. I can't understand any women.

Your work associate? Too mouthy? That's easy to cure.

Set boundaries with her. Be adamant. Tell her if she doesn't shut the hell up, you'll file a complaint, a union grievance, or whatever you call it where you work. Get her "written up" for it.

I got a woman co-worker fired one time many years ago. She kept teasing me about being gay, because I had mentioned a girlfriend named Bobbie. She said Bobbie was a male, a Bob, or Robert. I said "No, Bobbie Fay was a woman, and I should know quite well, we were together for 6 years, she went to New York with me."

Well, that female co-worker kept telling everyone that I was gay and once had a boyfriend named Bob.

I, after a few days of this, complained that my civil rights were being violated by her aggressive hostile acts against me. They fired her and she left a few minutes later.

She will not "shut up in spite of herself". You must command her to shut the F up.

Power Tripper. She a Control Freak. Why can't women see what men see?

As more aggressive and obnoxious, men are more cynical about relationships, I think. We don't believe in reconciliation with a foe. We like to clobber each other, get it over with, and move on to other business. Women crumple to jelly in certain confrontation zones.

Notice how women's voices go up a few notches in pitch when they greet each other. They provide more background information in telling stories, more than men would.

Just differences, not inferiorities.

But I would tell her she is interfering with your work, and if she prevents you from doing your job, you will be compelled to report the incidents.

That should do it.

Say it hatefully, not nicely. Growl like a she-wolf baby. Penetrate her idiot brain with fierce eye lasers.

Look like death as you command and warn her.

"One more time, bitch, and I'm going to tell my supervisor I'm being harrassed."

She is being hostile toward. Screw her if she claims she does not "intend" to interrupt you. She is stealing from the company. Time is money. She wastes company time talking. She is a thief and a bitch and a blabber mouth.

Next question? That was too easy, honey.

Now I gotta publish your photo. thanks for adding your prettiness to my blog.


steven edward streight said...

Zaf": don't ask her to shut up, command her, and it she disobeys your command, get right up and say, "I gave you a choice, to either be quiet in the deparment, not just my cubicle, or I would be forced to complain to my boss. You have chosen to ignore this warning, thus disrespecting me and my feelings, and distracting me, and not doing your fair share of work due to chattering. You will now be reported. Sorry, but business is business. Nothing personal, but I don't let any man or woman or machine treat me so disrespectfully. Bitch."

steven edward streight said...

I wanna see a cat fight, I guess.

carrie said...

you should start an advice column.

i think that a lot of people probably have secret blogs. i've thought of doing it myself and struggled with the idea of why i felt i couldn't say everything on my blog that i wanted to . i think sometimes people want to try out new personalities and see what kind of response they get. I know some people would *die* if their mother read their personal blog. People do have different personas… public v. private. Sometimes our masks confine us.

zafu: i have dealt with difficult co-workers. one time, when i was a supervisor, an employee kept annoying me by asking me what i would like her to do and finally i said, i would like you to not talk to me. she went and told my boss and i got a talking to. they said i was not allowed to tell her that she couldn't talk to me because i was her supervisor.

i'm glad i haven't had to work for a few years.

zafu said...

hehhaha.... catfight it might come down to. thanks for giving me ammunition though. i think it IS a problem of setting clear boundaries. there are other problems in the office, like everyone talking about everybody else and constantly wanting to draw me into it. and thats' just for starters.

thanks for lending me an ear.

steven edward streight said...

Carrie: your supervisor was a first class jerk.

Managers are generally very stupid and lazy, and tend to blame underlings for problems. They often exhibit a pronounced martyr psychosis.

"Destroy Their Self-esteem and Confidence...which threaten me!" is the manager motto.

"My way or the highway" is the anti-innovation posture.