When And Why To Ignore An Asshole

A good part of the blogging experience is comments.  The “likes” are great, but the comments evoke an emotional reaction and a connection is made, sometimes transient and sometimes a relationship, yes even a cyber one, blossoms.  I’ve never met any followers or people I follow, but there are those who I’ve almost come to count on as supporters, and those I like to support in the blogosphere.

What I witnessed this week, related to a woman blogging about a commercial that affected her in an extremely negative emotional way, was unbelievable.  A good majority of the comments that followed were atrocious, thoughtless, idiotic and actually rather pointless.  They were made in a way that attacked the blogger’s opinion without really considering her point.  I won’t give the comments airtime in this post because they’re not worthy.  They’re garbage.  I’d like to think people who make remarks at the level that I witnessed are strung out, because to think that rational people are making the remarks is actually too hard to take.

The danger in social media platforms is always that individuals can fairly anonymously attack you.  We know it’s cowardly and that it is usually best to ignore.  However, once read, it’s hard to undo whatever emotional/psychological/mental damage is done.  Especially if it’s a post where one has made themselves vulnerable.  By definition this makes them exposed to the possibility of being harmed or attacked.  Unfortunately, there are people out there that will respond in an unproductive and harmful way.  Then there are people who will try to stand up for the person being attacked and unfortunately engage the attacker in a way that spurs the ass on.  Nothing is resolved.  The attacker likely gets off on the exchange, and then looks for the next opportunity to spew negativity.

I think for the most part we’re better than this, more compassionate than this and more intelligent than this.  But there are misguided souls out there that aim to inflict some damage, likely because they’re damaged themselves or in some cases because they are just simple assholes.  I don’t know that it’s possible to stop them, but it is possible to ignore them.  Don’t get caught up in the back and forth.  Don’t engage.  They make outrageous comments to get a reaction, and a reaction they get.

We owe it to the post author to concentrate on their content.  Encouraging assholes, however well-intentioned to start, is only buying them additional airtime.  A stronger response it to focus on the post itself, constructively contribute to the author’s subject, perhaps share a laugh or know when to shut-up and not say a thing.  Criticism and debate are healthy among people commenting if done in a respectful way.  But let’s weed out the assholes by not being drawn into their agenda of hijacking a post topic and running it mercilessly into the ground.  Let their comment stand isolated; let them stagnate and wallow in their own shit.  We’re better than that.