Tag Archives: comments

Anonymity No More

Online comments can hurt — We all know that.

The St. Petersburg Times, one of the greatest papers around in my opinion, addressed comments in a way that made me sit back and think.

The reporter took the time to learn about a man who commenters quickly dismissed cold heartedly. Read the story.

The article made my heart ache, but it made a point that I think is important for anyone hiding behind the anonymity of an online persona.

Once the submit button is hit, you are effecting a family that just lost their son, a girl who lost her father, a man who lost his best friend.

No matter where you are typing, those words can still hurt.


Will You Be My Friend?

I have an awkward story.

It goes back to one of my first classes in college. I like having friends, lots of them. So when I moved away to college and knew absolutely no one I was overwhelmed and ready to make some lifelong pals.

The thing is, I grew up in a small town where I always had friends. They were just there. Sure new ones would come, but I didn’t have to be brave because I already had some friends.

Well, in my Introduction to Journalism class I sat next to a girl, Nichole was her name if you’re curious, and we chatted discussing the lack of programs for transfer students, apartments and other things new people talk about and I thought “She’d make a great friend!”

Then I made my mistake.

I looked at her at the end of the class, super eager to start a beautiful friendship and blurted out, “Do you want to be my friend?”

I realize now that this may have come off a little creepy and needy, but I was new to making friends. Give me a break.

Well, needless to say, Nichole did not sit by me again and a friendship was not made.

Why share this incredibly humiliating story?

While listening to music and trying to find something to do on this day that has nothing happening I heard a song by the White Stripes called, “We’re Going to Be Friends,” and I thought of Nichole.

I think I still have that eager 19-year-old spirit of wanting everyone to like me and be my friend, but it gets tough when you work in the newspaper business.

I still am not used to the hateful comments by people who have never met me, the rude emails asking me why I suck and the demeaning vibe 50 percent of the people I meet give off solely because I work in the media.

I sometimes find myself just wanting to ask, “Will you please just be my friend?” I’m really nice and mostly fun to be around. Plus, I make a mean tater tot casserole.

But, sadly, I now know that strategy is slightly flawed.

Comments, What Are They Good For?

When I worked at the weekly paper last year we posted our stories online but we were not emphasizing web all that too heavily. At the Daily News web is all we push.

If a story doesn’t seem “clickable” it often times falls to the wayside, which is not a good thing but it’s how we operate. So understand that coming into this job of writing blotters and breaking news I never thought about the readers on the other side… well I never thought of the lack of pure kindness they would display.

Starting out, I would get so excited to see comments on any of my stories and instantly click to see what they had to say. All to quickly I learned that was a mistake.

Our commenters are positively vicious. It started out with snide remarks about the blotters, then it got personal.

They went from making rude comments about the story to actually writing my name and then adding their rude, demoralizing comment.

We’re encouraged to read the comments to see if we’ve made and error, if someone has a tip or perhaps knows anyone we are writing about so that we can continue to get the most coverage possible, but it’s not something I enjoy.

I now dread opening up any of my stories because the commenters seem to be particularly hateful towards my stories. It’s not like I’m a sensitive person.

I work in a field where I get smacked around, trashed and kicked out of places all the time. It comes with the territory and that’s fine. That’s understandable. That’s even tolerable.

What I really cannot stand are the people tucked safely away from the world behind their computer making brazen statements about things they don’t know. It’s so easy to stand behind a mask and say whatever you want – it’s another matter owning what you say.

I’ve learned though, as I always do, through trial and error.

I no longer read each and every comment, or take offense to the one’s that tend to be less than nice to yours truly. Like life, I just take it with a grain of salt.

I mean, how angry can I be about being called mean names when I’m writing a story about a 29-year-old guy that died that same morning. Perspective here is key.

So commenters, I’ve got nothing to say to you – and that’s the way it will stay.

You’re little mind games have no affect on me. None whatsoever! (This is a tad bit of a lie, but you get the victorious gist of it.)