June 30, 2004

COMMENTS

My comments section has been growing and taking on a life of its own since the Atrios incident. Yes, I still read all of the comments. No, I don't eagerly look forward to them the way I did six months ago. I've got arguments and insults -- plus headaches and sleepless nights, believe it or not -- because of the comments section. Reader cjstevens wrote a long and interesting comment here, and Sander wondered why I even bother to have a comments section.

Sometimes I wonder myself.

I read this post on Instapundit today about comments, and I certainly understood. When I first started my blog and all those readers came over from USS Clueless, I couldn't keep my eyes off the comments section. When I started playing with my templates and thought I had deleted my first week's comments, I broke into tears (ask my husband; he thought I was nuts). I thought I needed to cherish every comment I had, because I certainly didn't think anyone would want to read my blog once the novelty of Den Beste's link wore off.

Eight months and 55,000 hits later, the comments section has begun to weigh on my heart. What was once a spot for Carla or Mike or Tammi to shoot me an encouraging word has turned into gnawing dread in my stomach whenever I see the numbers climb higher. Every time someone comments, I feel the need to think about his words for hours. I try to understand where he's coming from, what he's thinking, why he thinks I might agree with him, and what I could possibly say to get my point across and make him see what I see.

A friend advised me to blog for myself alone, not for the adoring (or loathing) public. But every challenge that I leave unanswered haunts me. Every comment I disagree with is hours of my thoughts diverted elsewhere, when I'm sure someone else has already had the same argument elsewhere.

I've thought about shutting the comments off and just doing this for myself. I've thought about leaving them and letting them take on a life of their own without my involvement. I've thought about giving blogging up altogether because sleepless nights and stinging wounds are really the last thing I need when half of my heart is in Iraq.

I'm just stressed. And beaten down. I'm struggling to remember what the point of all of this is...

MORE TO GROK:

cjstevens, it appears the director of Gunner Palace will be on CNN News Night with Aaron Brown tonight (30 Jun). See if you can check it out.

MORE TO GROK:

Please keep in mind that I'm not necessarily talking about "abuse" here. Yeah, the comments were pretty nasty there for a while, but mostly now it's civil. It's just so much for one brain to handle.

My alarm goes off at 0630. Lately I've been dragging it out until 0700. I read for an hour, get ready, go to work until 1600, come home, shovel some food in my mouth, and go to the neighboring post to teach for three hours. (On nights that I don't teach, I'm watching Band of Brothers, which isn't exactly light entertainment.) I return around 2145 and then read and blog some more. I rarely make it into bed by 2300 and I'm lying there thinking about Michael Moore and Iraq and elections until midnight or 0100. I just can't shut it off.

Writing my own posts keeps me occupied; thinking of how I would respond to five different people who all have different ideas about Moore and Iraq and elections is making me insane.

So I apologize if you're a commenter and I don't give you a direct answer to your comment. It doesn't mean I'm not losing sleep over it.

Posted by: Sarah at 10:35 AM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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June 19, 2004

LOVE

10 Things I Love About Others' Weblogs

1. the rotating photos of the universe at U.S.S. Clueless

2. The Dissident Frogman's movies

3. the disclaimer that pops up when you comment over at Bunker Mulligan

4. Kim du Toit's skin pics

5. Allah's t-shirt

6. the picture of the ever-cheerful CPT Patti

7. The Gobbler Motel

8. South Park Pixy

9. Amritas' blogroll

10. The propaganda posters on The Mudville Gazette

Posted by: Sarah at 04:38 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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June 15, 2004

MANNERS

I read Sanders' comment here and then sat down to write and saw that Lyana had beat me to my point. But I'll say it anyway. I appreciate Sanders' point, but I think it's sad:

Nah, you worry too much. What's more, you take things said on the internet personal, which is kind of cute in a very naive sort of way.

Internet is just not comparable to everyday life, it's more anonymous, sharper and sometimes uglier. No one in the comments would ever call you clueless fucktard dumb to your face, even more so if they have any personal knowledge of you, but on the internet discussion often end with rude ad hominems. On the other hand, by dispensing with courteousness the arguments are more direct and perhaps more honest.

It may be scary at first, but you get used to it, after realizing they're not talking to you personally, but some anonymous schmoe saying silly things. Live and learn.

If the attacks are not meant to be personal, then what are they? They're not constructive. They're not educational. They're just insults, and insults are personal. Yes, I do take these things personally because I believe in decency and manners. I'm absolutely appalled that those 90 people don't.

I have never called anyone a name in a comments section. Only very rarely have I argued back with someone, and it's only ever been with another commenter and never with the blog host. I have never linked to what someone else has written and made fun of them or pointed out how wrong I think they are, even though the blogger who started this atrios-lanche has done this to me repeatedly. Once I wrote about some silly posts I read elsewhere, but I didn't provide a link to the site because I didn't want to send hateful comments his way. I don't think that's right. I can discuss the other person's ideas without linking because it's the ideas that need discussing, not whether the person is dumb as a hammer.

Yes, the internet allows us to be more open. I talk about things here on my blog that I can't talk about with many of my peers because they either vehemently disagree with me or they don't read the news very often. I'm very grateful that the internet has given me that opportunity, but it's come at a price. If we're losing all sense of courtesy and respect for other people's views and "space" (as in it's my blog and you've come to my space to call me names), then I think that's sad.

Many of those commenters from the weekend probably have kids. What if I printed out their comments and showed them to their kids. Look, Timmy, your daddy called me clueless fucktard dumb. And then I explained to little Timmy that his daddy called me that simply because he disagreed with what I had to say. That's a bad lesson to teach your kids.

My mother reads my blog. So does my first grade teacher. I try to conduct myself in a way that would make both of them proud because they taught me that showing others respect is important. It's a shame others weren't taught the same.

Posted by: Sarah at 11:28 AM | Comments (16) | Add Comment
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June 01, 2004

BREAK

I don't know how Andrew Sullivan takes a break every year; the hardest thing for me to do is not to blog. Everything I read, every encounter I have in the day, everything turns into a post; for the past eight months I've looked at everything in my life through the lens of a blogger. However, I think I need to take a couple of days off. I have a lot of thinking to do. I'll be back in a few days with a long post about my thoughts. In the meantime, read about The Soldiers You Never Hear About.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:13 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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