Babble audience is much wider and people can stumble onto my posts accidentally. In other words, they aren't, necessarily, my friends. This is fine. I'm happy for the opportunity to talk to more people but I find the tone of comments very surprising--not just on my posts but all over on the various Babble blogs.
It's not just Babble, of course. You see it on any daily blog, all over Facebook, and coming through in 140 characters or less on Twitter. I think, generally, people don't like to be rude, don't look to be offended, don't willfully misunderstand, and don't assume the worst of someone they are friends with. When I'm having lunch with my friends, for example, we totally love each other. We think we're all great and we want to hear what each other is saying, clarify points, agree, talk about things we have in common, or invite a new perspective. We listen with sympathy and willingly give the benefit of the doubt whenever it's needed. I mean, some people are just jerks--but I'm not having lunch with them.
But online it just seems like people take a gleeful pleasure in calling each other out. I'm just wondering what need it meets to leave a snarky comment on someone's Facebook status that you don't even know in real life. What is happening with people that we have this need to do that? I'm tempted to do it myself. I'm not saying I'm above the fray. I'm just wondering what's going on with humankind that this kind of disrespectful, uninformed discourse has become so common.
As a writer I know I need to have a thick skin. I'm putting stuff out there for people to comment on so I always feel like I get what I deserve. I make jokes, sometimes, that rely on people giving me the benefit of the doubt and when my audience can't or won't do that, it's a calculated risk on my part. Like when I said in my last post that there's always an ugly twin. I feel like we are companionable friends, you and I, so I hope you aren't an offended [ugly] twin. It's not my intent to offend you, but if you are offended by a something like that I deserve whatever comment you want to make.
I think about my audience constantly and my aim is not to offend them. I'm hoping that I'll say something new or interesting that you haven't thought of before and that you'll like it. I try to anticipate your concerns or objections while I'm writing so I can take care of them before you finish the post. When someone says something mean to me online it almost always makes me feel like crying. I agonize over it and dwell on it. My husband is great at getting me to snap out of it by telling me not to care. Like I said, thick skin is required. But in order to put myself out there and not feel hurt by people who rudely disagree or flat out dislike me I have to switch off a mechanism--the mechanism of caring what my audience thinks. To be honest, I'm not sure that makes me a better writer.
I think a thoughtful, measured approach to writing, commenting, and thinking is better than something reactionary, though that could just be my personality. Nothing I've impetuously come up with has ever been very worthwhile. It must be the speed and ease with which comments can be made and responses flung out there into the interwebs that causes people to be less kind online than they would be in person. I like that all sorts of people are given a voice on the internet, but I'm not sure how well it's going.