I wrote a blog post last week called “hi. my sons have long hair. now watch your mouth.” It was about my sons having long hair, yes. But at its heart it was a thought piece on how as adults we need to think before we speak to children. Something about this post connected with a large audience and it has been shared thousands of times.
As the number of shares grew, I was very prepared for commenters who disagree with my stance or who wanted to offer a different point of view. I was actually looking forward to it. I enjoy hearing varying opinions, I love intelligent conversation, and I learn so much from people with a world view different from my own.
The reaction to my post was overwhelmingly positive, but inevitably I began (and will probably continue) to get comments from people who think I am a terrible person for letting my sons have long hair. And they made sure I knew exactly how they felt. Not only did they go to extremes to let me know how they felt, they also missed the entire point of my post.
As I read a comment from one such person, let’s call him Bill, using the most colorful language possible and calling my sons names that would make Miley Cyrus blush, I was once again reminded what a gross place the internet can be.
I also felt sorry for Bill who found it necessary to rip other people apart with his words. I don’t know Bill, and he doesn’t know me. Maybe he is actually a really nice person, maybe something I said hit a chord with him and made him defensive, maybe he was having a super bad day, or maybe he just genuinely hates it when little boys have long hair. I will never know. But what I do know for sure is that, no matter what, my comment section will never be a gross part of the internet.
It can be a place for encouragement, education, support, debate, disagreement, polite confrontation. Sure. All day every day I will be okay with that. I invite it. Let’s talk. Like adults.
This is not the first, nor will it be the last, time I have received comments that stopped me in my tracks and reminded me how public my writing can become. I write a post in the privacy of my own living room and then suddenly the entire world has access. It is overwhelming. And scary. And really sort of incredible. I made a choice to share my thoughts, my opinions, my life, my family. It is not a choice that I take lightly and I understand what it means.
The evils of the internet are real. So is the amazing, life changing power the internet has to create community and relationships and conversations that never would have happened otherwise. I choose to embrace that reality and I understand making that choice means also dealing with the uglier side of the blogosphere.
However, I do not have to let people say whatever they want whenever they want without any repercussions. Enter my decision to put a comment section policy into place for this tiny little blog. I’m a huge fan of the New York Times comments policy and after reading it I realized how necessary it truly is to moderate the conversation in the space I am responsible for. I want to help guide wonderful conversations, not enable internet trolls. And by putting it into writing I don’t have to explain it to every single commenter who begins to cross the line, I can just link them right back here and ask them to comply or find another site to stir up trouble on. My hope is that this policy will make reading my blog an enjoyable experience for the overwhelming majority of my readers who are here for all the right reasons.
johnnyandginger.com Comment Section Policy
- Valid email address required. All commenters must provide a valid email address to leave a comment. This address is never made public and will only be used if the need arises to contact you in regards to a comment.
- Zero tolerance policy for abuse. Comments that contain profanity, obscene language, personal attacks, or bullying of any kind will be deleted immediately. Repeat offenders will be blocked from commenting permanently. End of story.
- Difference of opinion welcome. Commenters are welcome to disagree and discuss topics relevant to the post in a civil and respectful manner. If a conversation spirals into an abusive place the comments will then be deleted.
- Relevant links allowed. Please feel free to leave a link in your comment to a relevant blog or article. Links to irrelevant sites will be deleted.
- Editorial discretion. I agree to manage the comments on this page by these guidelines but reserve the right to make exceptions when necessary.
- Have fun. I love the internet and its potential for community. Enjoy your time here, learn something, meet someone and join in the discussion.
You guys, I’m gonna be honest. There is part of me that gets so overwhelmed worrying about each comment and each person who disagrees with me and tells me so in less than classy ways. Sometimes I think maybe I should just pack it up and move off the grid. And then I remember how my life has changed for the absolute best thanks to the community I have found on Instagram and Facebook and in this crazy blogosphere. The truth is that the beautiful is so much more amazing than the people who try to ruin it for everyone. So if you’re dealing with unkind strangers online and wondering why you even stick around, remember that there is a richness and a rawness and a depth of community here that wasn’t even possible not that many years ago. It isn’t perfect but let’s use the internet as a tool to spread love and community and a couple more cat videos. Or maybe just the first two.
(print courtesy of Lines of Grace)