Blogging – when comments ‘hurt’

I have always enjoyed writing.  As a child and teenager, I used to spend my days with pen in hand, writing letters, essays and stories. Then as I moved into the workplace I continued to write as part of my job and then as an undergraduate. Writing has always been a part of my life and now as a blogger it serves me well in helping to cope with the challenges I face.

But sometimes when you write and you get criticised, it can be hurtful particularly when you are feeling low. This is what happened to me recently. A critical comment appeared on my blog; it was insensitive and not only upset me but some of my readers. I know many of you will say that I need to ignore it and move on and of course you are right, I will, but there are a few things that I would like to say to those who think it’s OK to criticise people in this way.

If you read my blog and you don’t like me, or what I write, then that is OK. I really don’t mind but what I do mind is when people voice that dislike in comments on my blog. You can always read another blog, one that is more positive perhaps but you need to know that this blog is not one of those ‘feel good’ blogs. I write honestly. I write how it is for me and my family and it just so happens that at the moment life is difficult for us.  With two children out of school and no easy prospect of getting them back, I am feeling tired, depressed even, and vulnerable.

So when I read comments that were critical of me and my blog, I couldn’t help but feel as though I’d been attacked. Like a lot of bloggers, my blog is my personal space to express myself in writing. It is a way of making sense of the situation I am in and getting support from the special needs community. It is also, of course, a way of spreading awareness of raising special needs children and the things I am learning as an autism mum. My blog may even help others in a similar situation and if it does then that is great.

People may say, why write online and expose yourself to online criticism but I argue that the benefits of blogging far outweigh the occasional negativity. Blogging is engaging; it links you into online communities that can offer real and valuable support. Blogging is also democratising and it allows you to be part of topical conversations and whilst many of us may not individually have the power to change the political status quo, we do have the opportunity to spread awareness of key issues.

But behind that blog is a person, a human being with thoughts and feelings and a life that may not be totally reflected in their writing. No matter how powerful or passionate a piece of writing is, the writer may not mirror that strength. They may be suffering a mental illness or a physical ailment or they may be going through a challenging time in their lives when they are feeling stressed and vulnerable. It is easy to assume that the writer is as strong as their words and can tolerate some criticism but sometimes they can’t. And even if they can, is it right to be so critical and personal?  Comments can add to a discussion if they are constructive and supportive (and I hasten to add most of my comments are) but when they are insensitive and judgemental they have the potential to upset the community around that blog.

And that is what happened here and it made me realise I have a responsibility towards my readers some of whom may be feeling as vulnerable as me.  I owe it to my community to encourage a network of friendship and support and for that reason I have made the decision to better manage the personal and critical comments that occasionally arrive on this blog.

But for those of you who do comment constructively and positively both on here and on twitter, I just want to say a massive ‘thankyou’.  I value what you say and you’ve helped me more than you realise and I’m sure you’ve helped others too when they read this blog.

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16 Responses to Blogging – when comments ‘hurt’

  1. I completely agree with you on this and appreciate you bringing it up. I am continually appalled at the comments people make in an online environment. It’s completely fine to disagree in fact, I celebrate differences. However, we can dialogue in our differences in a manner that is civil, respectful, and courteous.

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Thankyou. I totally agree, difference of opinion is fine as long as it doesn’t become and rude and personal. Its so easy to become emotional and react impulsively online that I think people need to take time to think about their responses before hitting that publish button. Deb x

  2. Galina V says:

    Deb, as I read your blogs posts when they arrive in my email box, I miss the comments unless I go to your blog. Haven’t seent the hurftul comments. But it never ceases to surprise me why people even bother to come and leave negative comments, when there are so many blogs to choose from. If I don’t like someone’s blog or disagree with their way of thinking, or find it too commercial or annoying, I just don’t read them. Sorry to read that some insensitive silly sod offended you.

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Hi Galina; I agree. There is such a diversity of blogs around that its a case of picking the ones you like. Its like being in a bookshop I think; you have your favourite authors and your not so favourite ones so I can’t understand why people bother to leave negative comments on the blogs they don’t like. Deb x

  3. Jeannette says:

    Well said Deb, what you choose to write on YOUR blog is up to you. You are voicing what a lot of SN families are going through – the meltdowns, the anxieties, statementing process, inadequate SEN system etc. People can read and either empathise or sympathise.
    Negative blog comments are unnecessary and do make you wonder if you all doing the right thing by blogging – but you are. Keep telling it like it is!
    I approved a negative comment last weekend to show their lack of understanding and that was someone with SN in the family!
    You’re doing great x

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Thanks Jeanette, I guess there will always be a difference of opinion at times, even in the SN community but its the way its said that’s the problem I think. There is no need to be rude and to personally criticise someone. Like you say, it does make you wonder why you bother. Anyway thanks for the positivity. Deb x

  4. Blue sky says:

    I read your previous post, but couldn’t think of anything helpful to add, so I missed that comment. Which was not nice. And completely unnecessary. As others have commented, don’t read and don’t comment if you don’t like the blog. Sometimes I disagree with a view in a blog and I used to say what I thought, but that would be criticising the argument, not the blog itself, and certainly not the blogger. However I rarely do that now as I found that it tended to annoy people too. I hope that ‘Fiona”s comment did not upset you too much, and that she stays away from now on x

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Hi Blue Sky, I think debating something is fine but, as you say, when its aimed at the blog and the blogger, its not nice at all. Its too personal I think. I also felt that I have a responsibility to other readers; I don’t want people to be put off from sharing their views and experiences in case they get judged and criticised. Hence this post. Deb x

  5. Fiona says:

    Hi Deb, I don’t comment on or read many blogs at the moment, health issues etc., as I know you are aware have kept me busy. I’ve just looked up your last post to see what it was all about and I have to throw my penny worth in with everyone else. That was a horrible and unnecessary comment. If your blog annoys her so much whay on earth does she keep reading it??? Keep writing, it’s your pressure valve and you definately do help promote awareness. Tough to those who don’t approve!

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Hi Fiona – I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you’re getting on (I’ll try and catch up with you on twitter at some point). Anyway thanks for commenting. I agree with you; why do people read blogs that they don’t like – I don’t get it. I also think some sensitivity would have been welcome as well. Deb xx

  6. I think I know which comment you’re talking about, I actually made a remark about it myself. Good for you on writing this. It is totally your personal space and people are far too quick to judge others. Leaving a comment is voicing an opinion, whether it be different to yours or the same. But there is a way to do this, and it most certainly does not involve rudeness.

    CJ x

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Hi CJ – having a different opinion is fine and debate is welcome but, as you say, there are ways to do this without being personal. Thanks for commenting. Deb x

  7. Deb says:

    Negativity seems to permeate so much of our culture these days. It’s hard to stay positive and happy and joyful at times when your kids are getting you down. I’m sorry you had to deal with some nastiness. Yes, there are a lot of good people out there that wouldn’t do such a thing. Keep your head held high. Well said on this post.

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Hi Deb, yes there is a lot of negativity out there and it can be difficult to deal with at times and this was one of those times. Thanks for commenting. Deb x

  8. Well said Deb. Good for you. :-)

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