Before you leave that negative comment

don't be the troll
(original photo source credit jcapaldi on Flickr)

My kids have never seen the SNL sketches, but they know the theme song for Debbie Downer. They know that being a downer is, well, a total downer, and that sometimes it really is better to stay quiet when you just can’t say something nice or positive.

It takes a lot for me to comment on the internet (positively or negatively), for many reasons. To start, no matter what you say online, there’s someone waiting in the shadows to pick a fight, and I really don’t have time fo’ dat. I’m also pretty lazy, so to get me to fill in my contact details, compile a legible comment, and leave it there for posterity, I need to be emotionally connected to the piece I’ve read, and feel I have something to add to the conversation. It’s a rare day I’ll ever say something against a writer on their article. One of my resolutions is to spread more support and positivity online, though. And part of that is leaving supportive comments when I’ve read posts, because I know how much those mean to writers.

I really dig that little “like” button on Facebook because it’s my digital head-nod. Yup, I dig this. Yup, I agree. Yup, this is the easiest way for me to approve without having to commit to being articulate.

And there’s plenty on the internet to feel upset about, I know this. There are crimes against humanity, there is war, there is starvation and abuse and poverty and sexism and racism and a million other things we can stand up against and fight to abolish. There are worthy causes for our rage, our snark, our distaste. Absolutely.

But the vast majority of what you’re reading online doesn’t fall into that category, I bet.

I’ll never, ever understand what possesses people to be the voice of dissent on innocuous things like, say, a fun crockpot recipe for caramel apples. How much time does someone have to waste that they feel adding snark to the general conversation is a worthy activity?

caramel apples comment 1

Ah, sarcasm. I’m fluent in this language, too. But the truth here is that my kids absolutely loved unwrapping (and scarfing down!) those precious caramels, Sharon. And frankly, it was easier for me than buying the stuff needed to make caramel from scratch. I don’t own a candy thermometer. I didn’t have heavy cream. I don’t know how to make an ice water bath to make candy. What I know how to do is peel the plastic off some candy, melt it, and make freaking candy apples with my kids.

Why bother being so snarky, really? If the recipe’s not for you, move along.

caramel apples comment 2 (1)

Well, Erin, yes it is easy. The sugar melts rather easily in warm water, and it’s easier to wash than most other meals I’ve made in the crockpot, actually. Why waste precious time being such a downer? Really?

Before you bother commenting negatively, ask yourself these questions:

1. Is my comment helpful?
2. Would I be proud if my kid(s)/spouse/friends/parents/grandparents read what I’m about to say?
3. Is what I’m about to say appropriate?

Reading my friend Annabel’s post may also help you understand this concept more. And maybe this post I wrote for YMC, for good measure, too.

Just because it’s your opinion doesn’t mean it needs saying.
Just because something is true doesn’t mean you should say it.

This kind of behaviour online is exactly why we need the #BlogSmallJoys series. We need to remember that life’s not about those negative voices in the back of the room.

Life’s not about pointing out the downsides, or losing sight of silver linings. There’s so much more reward in being the sunshine on a cloudy day.

Be that sunshine.

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Alex

12 thoughts on “Before you leave that negative comment

  1. I’ll be the first to admit that my comments online are not always positive. But I do try to stick to your 1, 2, 3 rules above. When I’m being negative, it is usually with a social change minded purpose.

    But the comments above on the recipe….I don’t get those. Are people really so concerned about how you spend your time that they’re worried how long it takes you to unwrap the caramels or clean the pot? I could understand phrasing them as a question, e.g:

    “Do you know how many packages of the Kraft Caramels you used? I’d love to try this, but I’d prefer to buy a caramel block instead (http://www.candystore.com/bulk-caramel-block) and am trying to figure out how many grams of caramel it would be.”

    “This recipe looks great. I’m wondering though, did the caramel get really caked on to the pot? Was it hard to clean?”

    But I guess it is easier to be nasty than inquisitive.

    1. And I really don’t think comments have to always be positive, and we definitely don’t always have to agree. You’re right — the ways you presented the exact same content is totally different from how those commenters did (and those are valid questions and points).

  2. BTW & FWIW – I like to get crock pot liners for cooking in the crock pot. It might not work so well with the caramel, but for general cooking they are great.

    1. I’ve never used those! I admit I don’t use my crockpot often because I hate the cooked-on messes.

  3. LOVE THIS POST, thank you! I honestly find FB the WORST for trolling comments, and at one point was almost wanting to stop posting ANYTHING for fear of the trolls. People really need to think before commenting anywhere….

    1. I know, it’s crazy there, and what’s even crazier is that it’s linked to peoples’ names, so they aren’t even ashamed of being trolls.

  4. Man, the negative/mean comments really get under my skin. I don’t get many but holy man, when I do, I feel ill. I wonder if the person leaving nasty comments knows that and if they get a little thrill from stirring the pot or making somebody else feel bad. Some of the comments on You Tube are simply vile. Makes me hesitate before I hit “upload” these days. Thanks for writing this. Trolls be some haters.

  5. Following the convo here … I don’t mind negative. But nasty? Personal attacks? They just make me want to leave social media altogether.

  6. Mmmmmm… 100 caramels to unwrap. Can I come over? (Honestly? Seriously? I will wash that crockpot for you, honey, if we do ever manage to get at least 10 caramels into it…)

  7. I’m really on the fence with Facebook and kind of falling towards even closing my personal account. I don’t like the way Facebook manipulates my feed, and I don’t like the way people I know and normally like, act on Facebook. Is it so much to ask that people really think before they hit share? The latest is the “It’s Merry Christmas, NOT Happy Holidays” meme. Is that really what we think or are we up in arms over a made up social dilemma? And if you don’t have anything nice to say – how hard is it to just back away and scroll on to the next post or meme that spreads misinformation?

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