Sorry – No Comment
Even though I’ve only recently started blogging again, I’ve already received several curious email inquiries about why my “Leave A Comment” function is currently disabled on this blog. In an effort to clear up the mystery, I’m going to spend a little bit of time trying to explain exactly why, and I really hope you’ll have patience with me and try to understand.
The feedback that I’m getting in these email messages is that people feel somehow rejected when they want to leave a comment. They click on the ”Leave A Comment” button, only to find a message saying that comments are currently disabled on this blog, and they stare at the screen with a mixture of confusion and aggravation. They took the time to come here and read what I’ve written, and they have something they would like to share about what they’ve just read, (whether it is something that pertains to their own experience, or that they simply wanted to share a word of encouragement). Sometimes they reluctantly decide to send an email instead and go in search of an email address, but more often than not they will simply just click away to another blog, perhaps still feeling a sting of annoyance of perceived rejection. Please accept my most sincere apology if this has happened to you.
First, let me be crystal clear about this one – I absolutely LOVE your comments, and truly crave the interpersonal interaction and connection that a blog conversation can provide from both sides of the equation. Please believe that the fact that comments are currently closed has nothing at all to do with YOU, and as of today, the decision to leave comments closed is still an experiment that I’m currently exploring. To try to explain this decision, let me give you a little bit of history, in the hopes it helps to clear up the mystery.
I’ve been blogging online for more than ten years now. (Sorry, blogging online qualifies as an unintentional oxymoron. I don’t suppose blogging existed before there was an online to factor into the equation. Please forgive my sidestep). Anyway, I’ve been blogging since about 1999, and over the course of these past ten or twelve years, I’ve discovered some interesting things about myself, especially in relation to how I write blog content.
I’ve always been someone who writes, but obviously when the blog world opened up, it dramatically changed all our options. Suddenly there was a whole big world out there that could read what we’ve written, (assuming they could find their way to your little corner of the blog world). New faces appeared, and conversations and friendships ensued. It was exhilarating and fun and new and created a space that was limitless and exciting.
All of this was good stuff. Really deliciously good stuff. It made it so much fun to interact with all sorts of people who you might not otherwise ever have had the chance to meet. It was a little like an ongoing special gift that you could keep opening up, over and over again. You never knew who might show up in your blog space, and that kept things exciting and fun.
Of course, you also eventually developed some unbelievably deep connections with people you had never even met in real life, (whatever real life can be defined as, anyway – for now we’ll define it as face to face interaction – just to keep things clear). Sometimes these connections were very intense or became extremely intimate, in that you shared very personal things about yourself with someone who was technically a complete stranger. Anyone that has experienced this phenomenon understands. When you connect with someone and things really click, you find yourself developing a friendship that shatters the boundaries of what you thought a friendship could be, and you discover that there are people out there that can be unbelievably generous and encouraging and loving. You truly cherish this connection.
Especially for people like me, who have chosen to stay isolated from most of the world, including their own family and friends, an online connection with someone can be a valuable source of feedback or can create a much-needed interpersonal connection. In a world that is usually singular or sterile and devoid of any sort of honest physical connection with other humans, an online connection can serve to create a place where thoughts are exchanged and feelings are explored and information is shared. In a blog conversation, (and the resulting friendships that can develop from that space), a person can experience a life that feels more authentic and connected. They are less alone in a sometimes lonely world.
In my blogging experience, I’ve had the privilege of knowing what it is like to belong to a large community of bloggers, where everyone feels like extended family. I’ve also had the experience of being very isolated, once keeping a blog for over a year without ever having received a single comment. At another time, I formerly had a blog where there was a very small and tightly-knit group of people that were following my blog. I guess you could say I’ve experienced many different versions of how a blog can connect you to others, although to be fair I would have to volunteer that I’ve never experienced what it is like when there are hundreds of people following your blog. I’ve observed this in other blogs and have been one of the many commentors on such a blog, but I’ve never been on the other side of that equation. But overall, I would have to say that I’ve experienced a pretty wide range of what a blogging experience can entail, and this has given me a point of reference for my current blog.
Anyone that has been blogging for any length of time can tell you that just as you will find people who are generous with their support or encouragement, you will almost always eventually cross paths with those other folks, too – you know who I’m talking about – the ones who always have negative commentary or want to verbally attack you. They seem to exist for no other reason than to rain on your parade. They obviously get personal satisfaction and immense enjoyment from being able to use your blog space to vent their vitriolic opinions, and they tend to lash out and attack at any given opportunity. Blog people often refer to them as trolls, and I guess that’s as good as any other exemplification of a person who behaves like an abusive bully. We should probably come up with another name for them that carries a bit more punch, but why waste our time or energy thinking about them? They are the bottom-feeding leeches in the blog world, and don’t deserve any further mention.
Crossing paths with these nasty trolls certainly factors into my decision to close my comments, but it is most definitely not the primary reason. What, you might then ask, is the primary reason? Get on with it already. Spill it. Tell us why.
Well, one of the things I discovered in the course of keeping all these various blogs over the years was that I invariably ended up tilting my writing in one direction or another, depending on who was reading the blog.
For instance, let’s say that my blog was lucky enough to attract the unexpected attention of other writers. Oh happy day! I’ve always loved to write, and being on the periphery of THOSE THAT WRITE FOR A LIVING can be a heady experience. Compliments on my writing style swell my head and make my heart go pitter-patter, and the next thing you know, I’m writing from the point of view of someone who is polishing every word so it shines and sits very prettily on the page, the words just waiting to be adored. I forget about what I originally intended to say, and instead seem to focus my attention on the structure and visual elements, and less on the content. I’ve become a comment whore and a compliment junkie.
Or maybe my blog unknowingly attracts some wounded souls that are traveling on a path that is similar to mine. They reach out in my direction, looking for guidance and support and encouragement. I suddenly realize that by the act of blogging, I’ve accepted the responsibility of tending to these injured angels, and my words become softer and more gentle, and I tend to pull the focus in the direction of hope and possibility. My words become a puffy version of a Hallmark greeting card, and platitudes and poetic references abound.
I’ve adapted my content to meet what I perceive to be an unspoken need for this audience, and in the process, I get scared out of my mind when I realize that sometimes I’ve crossed paths with people who are dangling on the very edge of survival. It becomes frighteningly clear to me that my words carry weight, and even the innocent or carelessly spoken words can be the impetus that tips a person over the edge. Having been on the razor’s edge more than a few times myself, I can’t ignore that a casual conversation for one person can be perceived as a life and death connection for someone else. Opening the door to that conversation is a huge responsibility, and requires a trained professional, which I am not. So my words tend to retreat to the land of hope and possibility, and I try my best to use my words to help them keep all their plates spinning. But I’ve given up some authenticity in the process.
Speaking of authenticity, sometimes my blog might collect the readers that are simply the voyeur type – the curious people who like to poke around inside someone’s head and see what makes them tick. But sometimes I have to remember that because my personal history happens to contain experiences that are very graphic or painful, and these subjects sometimes come up in my writing, that maybe I wind up unintentionally attracting the notice of people who can be very dangerous. Hidden behind every pixel and byte are pedophiles and sadists and cruel and dangerous people who are constantly out there looking for new victims. Maybe I will spot them early on and can block them from my blog, but then again, maybe not. Maybe they just use my blog as the spider’s web to lead them to their intended prey, and every time I write the word abuse or molestation or rape, they greedily follow the path of least resistance and hone in on the wounded souls that are my loyal followers. They are experts in the craft of identifying potential victims, and even though I am an expert in the craft of survival, this does not automatically make me capable of seeing them for who they really are and eradicating them from my blog. They lurk, and wait. It is my responsibility to be aware of their presence.
By now you might be asking yourself why ANYONE would keep a blog, when it is so fraught with danger. That’s actually a valid question, considering that a blog often contains very personal information. As the owner of the hands that travel across the keyboard, I have to decide how much to reveal, and how much to keep private, and how much information is too much information. It’s a delicate balance.
In my particular case, at this particular juncture in time, my blog is serving as a tool to examine some of the factors that are either working or not working for me as I travel down this path of life. It is a space for examination and discovery, and a temporary place to store information.
I also hope some of it might be useful to anyone who happens upon my blog, and I intend for it to be something that I’m sharing with others, but I have to underline that my previous experiences within the blog world have me proceeding with caution and extra care. The idea of leaving the comments closed, and the blog existing as a repository for information, rather than an exchange of ideas, certainly limits the overall experience, and there’s no denying that this leaves plenty of room for improvement. I’m okay with that, for now, and I hope you’ll understand why I’ve made this decision.
It could be that I’m searching for that authentic narrative voice that surely must exist within each of us that has no concern for what others are thinking, or what their needs are, and feels no responsibility towards anyone other than their own selfish designs. I’ve never really known how to be that person, and maybe this is an experiment in finding out whether that person should have any voice at all, or if all the words that come out of my mouth should always be spoken with the intention of helping someone else. It’s something I’m exploring.
For today, I’m choosing to silence the multitude of voices that I hear clamoring in my head, all telling me what they need to hear, or what they hope to learn, or how they need to be nourished and fed, and instead, I’m attempting to simply write what comes up naturally.
I realize this might be a selfish act, and even though I am usually a very generous person, perhaps this is one of those times where self-preservation is the most logical direction in which to proceed. I don’t do this because I don’t want to connect with you, but rather because I want to discover whether I can really connect with the most authentic part of me. There may be a time when I feel differently and I open comments again, but for right now, I’m trying my best to speak with some measure of authenticity, and I hope you’ll accept and understand my decision. Thank you for visiting my blog space, and I hope you’ll return again in the future.
Shania Noll, singing Return Again. Note added 03-10-12: Since originally posting this blog entry, I’ve learned how to embed videos, (old dog, new tricks), and thought I would take a moment to not only go ahead and embed the video now instead of just including a link to the video, but also to answer the question that posting this video has sparked. No, I am not Jewish, (unless I just haven’t figured out that I am Jewish yet). I was raised with an exposure to the Catholic faith, and have also dipped my toes in other waters such as Pentecostal, Buddhism, Methodist, Mormon, and other less-structured versions of spirituality and religion.
The reason I chose to link to this video is not only because I simply like and appreciate the music and her voice, but also that I connected to the idea of the “return again to the land of your home” message in the song, whether in a religious or spiritual sense, or in a more general sense of returning to the person you once were, before the world rubbed off on you and changed you — return to the essence that is you. Reclaim your authenticity.
(c) invisible shadow – author and owner – all rights reserved
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