Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rules to Comment By (Bigmouths Strike Again)

I was kind of disturbed a few weeks ago when I read some comments someone made in response to my friend, Mr. Rat's blog, This person, I believe, unfairly criticized him. Severely criticized him.

The internet is a great place with all its freedoms and anonymity but it can also be an unforgiving and vicious place.

Over a year ago I became Facebook "friends" with a young artist in London who provided knowledge and often video coverage of the protests that were occurring in Iran. He is very talented and I rarely communicated with him, but occasionally I would post something on his wall-usually in support of his photography or poetry.

Once, he posted "Jesus Christ Superstar." Although he was referring to a band he liked by that name, I responded (or tried to respond) with a line that came from the song from the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar." The problem was that I was quite young when the musical was out in the movie theaters and I misquoted the line. The actual line is: "Jesus Christ, Super Star. Do you think you're what you say you are?" 

I posted what I thought were the correct lines from my misquoting eight year old self: "Who in the hell do you think you are?"

Well, this guy thought that I was a crazy religious nut and that I was asking who the hell he thought he was! So he responded by saying something to the effect that I was not nearly as intelligent as he was not fit to lick his boot, so to speak.

I am embarrassed to admit that it hurt my feelings. Not the intelligence part. I thought that it was he who was sensitive about that. He needed to feel intellectually superior. It was the fact that I had no way to explain myself. He blocked me, so I could not apologize-yes, apologize or explain what happened. I just did not want to be misunderstood. I had hoped it was something that could have been laughed at. 

I never even told my husband about it because it upset me and I thought that if I talked about it it would upset me even more. It kind of worked. It does not hurt me in the slightest now-especially since I am pretty much purging right now.

The reason I tell you this tale is just to illustrate the delicate nature of comments-especially comments made online. 

I developed the following rules for myself, but share them with you if you are interested:

1. Never assume how you picture anyone online is how they actually look. Even if they have a photo. We all know that a photo means nothing on the internet. Anyone can be anyone else. Don't be quick to be dismissive of anyone. You might be commenting on the words of a poet (Morrissey) or a fool. You never know.

2. Remember that tone can be hugely difficult to convey in short bursts, or even longer bursts. Don't assume you understand the tone. It may seem sarcastic or full of ridicule, but the person who you are responding to may not have meant it in a harmful way. Assume the best of people when possible.

3. Don't make a comment if you are angry. Wait a day or even a few hours. You may have every  right to tell people to fuck off, but if you give it more time, it will more likely be more effective than if you are too impulsive. Trust me, I thought twice about the Jesus Christ comment, but should have at least looked at the lyrics to the song before posting what I thought it was.

4. Stick to the subject. Go for the jugular. Don't go for the jugular and then the balls and then the intestines, etc. Your comments have more weight and validity if you stay with the topic at hand.

5. Stay above the belt. For example don't ever criticize someone's parenting skills. Trust me. On Friday, I sat outside a courtroom for Jovanny and Miguel's custody review (we are their guardians). I could hear all sorts of things going on with "bad" parents. When you are sitting outside a courtroom and a lawyer starts telling you what you need to do so your kids don't get put up for adoption, its time to assess your life but people are going to criticize you, let's face it. Anything less than that, is up for self-evaluation, especially if you have never even met the person you are criticizing.

6. Be "gentle and kind." Assholes don't get this. So if it is not seemingly effective, do something else besides fiddling with the internet. You have better ways to spend valuable minutes of your life.

I am sure I have forgotten something else important. But you get the general picture. The internet would be a much better place if people thought about what they put out there more often.

Bullies feel safe hiding behind their anonymous facade.

Morrissey Update 
On Friday he played Vina del Mar festival in Chile to a very polite and subdued crowd. But he looked happy. 

I watched the whole thing. Click below for the link to the entire festival.
Or here is a link to Morrissey's portion (just the first three songs):

It reminded me of watching Spanish TV with my great-grandma in Long Beach. She was from Mexico and just the flashy type of shows she watched on Sunday afternoons were so similar. 

Great-grandma had every reason to be unpleasant having survived the Mexican Revolution but she was most definitely "gentle and kind. "

Be strong.


  1. Thank you for your kind words and keep up the good work. In response to your husband's question on your previous posting, yes you are obsessed, we all are, but then again, he IS The Mozziah!
    The Rat

    1. Mr. Rat, you are quite welcome. And you are right, I AM obsessed, but at least I am not alone.

  2. Well said. My favourite blog entry so far but maybe that it because it all happened to me too. A silly misunderstanding spiralled out of control because something said in humour (at least that was the intention) had been taken out of context. If you look on MW blog at October 2011 comments (the last two entries about the blog closing and re-opening) you get a flavour for what happened. It hurt, that's for sure. I am still trying to get the comments removed...

    You are doing a great job with your boys, I am sure of that! Yes, it takes strength to be gentle and kind!

  3. Sabine, I meant to respond to your comment a while ago, but kind of glad I didn't just because so much has happened this week especially with The Sun, etc. After reading some of the negative comments in various places, I had to kind of turn my head.

    But I completely understand that feeling of anger and hurt you speak of. Thank you for your kind words of support.