In previous blog posts I have discussed comments that we (freelance writers/bloggers) like to give and receive and how to avoid becoming a “comment killer” on articles and social media. These posts fall under the umbrella category of “Good Netiquette” and how to be a credible, respectable voice in interacting with fellow freelance writers/bloggers and social media users. You may be wondering how to handle situations in which no matter how mature or on-point your responses to others are, you are dismissed and/or attacked. This is going to be fun (not to mention that it’ll contain images and references related to politics and current events, so if you’re opposed to that then, well, you’re aware it’s coming)!
Have you ever been on a social network and saw comments as such?
The final comment is directly addressed to me.
When you are engaged in a heated hot topic conversation (which usually becomes an argument and then devolves into a flamewar), it’s challenging to hold your temper and not lash out. Maybe you’re telling yourself “I’m going to handle this like the adult I am” over and over even as you’re smashing your fingers on the keyboard as you write a biting retort. This is human nature. Although “netiquette” is relatively new, humans have always struggled with controlling our responses to enraging situations. While we could send our initial angry comment and feel good about it, here’s another suggestion.
And to see it in action:
Is it mature to respond with “Pffffft?”? That’s going to be an eternal struggle. You want to be the kind of commenter that is respected in the blogosphere and social media world and that requires offering well-written responses even under pressure. “Pffffft!” isn’t well-written. On the other hand, when you aren’t being heard because your fellow commenters aren’t interested in alternative perspectives and they only want to insult you, sometimes a good “Pffffft!” is in order.
Readers, have you ever given someone a “Pffffft!”? How do you handle situations where you don’t know how to respond in a mature way?
If I had to think of the one thing that makes me unique as a writer/social media user, I would say that it’s being a comment killer. No, I don’t mean that I am a moderator running around the internet censoring and deleting comments. I simply mean that if I post a response to a fellow writer/social media user, nobody else comments after me. The thread of comments might be holding on with gasping breaths as a user and I battle it out, but nobody posts anything new. It’s almost like I scare people off.
In the beginning it gave me a twisted sense of superiority. I thought “Well hey, clearly nobody else has anything to say because they know it won’t add anything that I already said.” This is not a thought process I advocate anymore, not for myself and not for anyone else. The thing that makes leaving comments on articles or social media so thrilling is that you can prompt additional conversation and make new friends (or enemies; that comes with the territory as well). People as a whole love feeling like they’ve been read and having something to respond to. It’s so much better to have a conversation than to have a false sense of superiority.
“Okay Jessica, what should I do if I’m a comment killer?” you ask. Excellent question! While you can’t control others reading your responses and posting their own, you can create comments that encourage discussion.
- Begin your comment by directly quoting something the writer or original poster said, such as: “In your blog you said…and I was wondering…” This takes more time than spouting off the first thing you think of, but it helps you because it creates a smart, thoughtful comment to show that you’re a serious poster and it helps the original poster and other commenters have a focus for responding.
- Give the original writer or poster something to genuinely respond to even if you don’t do a full quote. Saying “I agree!” or “Die in a fire!” isn’t enough to get interaction. Then again, “Die in a fire!” has been known to start flame wars (pun unntentional and appropriate)…
- Stay on topic as much as possible. In my experience, both as the reader and the guilty party, people are less likely to add something to your reply if they aren’t sure what to make of it. Saying “I love my fluffy cat!” is perfect on media that addresses fluffy pets, but not on a post about news or politics.
- “Talk” to many people. While some writers and social media users just want to say their peace and dart out, there are others that want a real conversation.
I’m learning these things as I make mistakes and then work to correct them. Does anyone else who considers themselves a comment killer have any tips or tricks that I missed?