Why Comments Matter (to me)

7 years ago

I find the sociology behind social networking online fascinating.

Quite likely, if you post an article here that has to do with blogging or social networking in general, I will have an opinion that I feel compelled to share.  I will hope that the comments section of your article will burst to life with riveting discussion and dissenting opinions.  I love that stuff.  Truly and well.

Recently, Loralee wrote a piece called Hey Jealousy:  Every Blogger was a Newbie Once which had that very thing happen.  And though I was a little late to the game, I was in it - I made several comments and got into the discussion with others about this topic.  The cool thing about Loralee's article is that she was right there in the comments section replying to people, giving the discussion the care and feeding it needed to really take off.

I love when that happens.

Sometimes my brain gets all zombie-ish Need American Idol or perhaps Time to Make the Doughnuts or something.  And something like this type of discussion (or maybe sex or chocolate!) will titillate my brain cells, wake them out of their coma, incite them to action.  I can actually feel the hamster of my brain start to run in its wheel.  And, people, it is a squeaky wheel - make no mistake.

(Also?  My hamster is prone to short bursts of energy and then mostly just lazes around on his little brain-sofa watching his little brain-TV.  He's just 2 notches up from worthless then.  But when he's running in his wheel?  He's a maniac.  Personally, I suspect he might be bi-polar.)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand (holy cow, maybe he's got ADHD too - that could explain the rambling disjointed nature of how he makes me write, couldn't it??) - Loralee posted her piece and the comments section lit on fire and it was a great discussion.  (Also?  I think she is going to write a follow-up piece so watch for that.  My hamster is already anxiously tapping his foot in my head.  Or perhaps I had too many Jello shots last night.  Either way...)

Some of the comments were about comments (just so meta!) and got me thinking.  About comments, naturally. 

Are the people who want them and need them and seek them out with fastidious determination shallow and vain?

Are the people who don't care about them more secure or superior?  Are they fooling themselves that they don't care?  Are they in denial about caring? 

(Do they have brain-hamsters that are simply depressed and apathetic???  That's the real question, now, isn't it?)

I do not know the answers to these questions but I find it interesting to ponder them.  I can, however, answer from my own perspective.  Well, OK - I'd be willing to answer on behalf of the hamster too, because he's watching SpongeBob right now and just can't be bothered.  {rolling my eyes at my hamster, what in the world do I keep him around for, anyway?}

I am most definitely shallow and vain.

Or maybe I should re-phrase.  It's quite likely that I am shallow and vain OR - I could just be a human being who seeks validation and who struggles with insecurity.

I recently wrote a piece called Why We Write (Which?  Zero comments.  After I cried real tears and tossed myself prone on the floor to kick and scream and lament the injustice of it all, I finally got over it when I was distracted by chocolate.  Sometimes having a hamster with ADHD works to my benefit, I think.) in which I state that I write for acceptance, to be known and loved (or at least liked) for who I am.

Like many others, this is my way of putting myself out there.  And I do put so much of myself into my writing (like so many of you do, too).   It's scary to do this, risky even.  It's the same as "What if I throw a party and nobody comes?" 

That is what my personal blog feels like - throwing an online party and hoping that others will find that they want to hang out with me at my house because they like my company. 

I also understand that people are busy and have tons of things competing for their time and attention and I don't take it personally when they don't come to my house for my party each time the music starts to play.   I want people at my party, but I understand that the onus is on me to craft the type of party that they clamor to.  I'm working on that.  Right now, it's a fairly intimate party of uber-hip and cool people.  We are all snobby that we discovered this great party scene - we're on the ground floor of it.  Someday, when the masses show up for the party, we know it will totally change the dynamic.  I'll be all running around refilling the salsa and stuff, and my original party crowd may end up feeling lost in the fray.  So we do enjoy our small parties now, even though we'd be giddy to have our party get bigger.

Man, I hammered that nail right through the drywall, didn't I?  Sorry.  (I blame the hamster.)

I venture out to other parties, too.  I realize that this party scene is a social network and I have to give to get.

Sometimes I come to a huge party that isn't being hosted by any one individual.  It's like a hall party.  Yes, I believe I just said that BlogHer is like a rave, only with less dirty dancing.  (I could be wrong about that - perhaps I'm just not cool enough to be invited to the Johnny Castle party and I'm stuck doing the pachenga with nerdy Neil.)

I think, for me, the comment terrain is scarier here, because while I totally understand why you might not be able to come to my house, well, in this case I've come to this big rave because you totally wanted me here.  At the very least,  the people paying the hall rental did, even if any one of you, individually, did not.  I'm here, get used to it.  I carried a watermelon. 

Once I'm at the BlogHer rave, not feeling the home-field advantage, I get a little insecure.  I want to socialize.  I want to dance.  I want to fit in.  I bring my my A-game.  I'm putting myself out there, taking that risk, trying to be social and to invest in the party rather than just expect it to accommodate me.

So when I do take my turn at karaoke, and the song ends to nothing but silence, let me tell you, it's a miracle that I don't hyperventillate right there in front of you all.  A miracle

I have to choose what to do with that.  It has the potential to scare me away.  (I'm never going to another rave again!  They're so dumb.  I totally do not fit in.  They hated me.  Nobody talked to me all night. )  It has the potential to make me psycho.  (Think:  the Stephen King's  Carrie.  "I'll show them using the evil powers of my mind!  I was a nice and innocent girl moments ago, but their meanness toward me has driven me to this!")

However, I do get to choose my response.  And I choose to keep trying, to try harder, to reach out more, to climb further out on that limb.  I choose to think "Maybe I forgot to turn the microphone on during karaoke and that's why no one responded."  I choose to not blame anyone, because really there is no blame here - not even on my own shoulders.

Yes, I feel insecure when I am taking risks and exposing so much of myself at a personal level.  Doing so is the only way to step forward to the place I wish to be, and so I must.  It's true that when I write a post here at the BlogHer rave that gets no responses, it's disappointing to me.  And it's true that I feel envious of those writers who do get a plethora of comments.  But there is no judgment and no blame - there is just a process of learning and trying and failing and trying more, again, differently, harder. 

Just like life.

The reason comments matter to me is because I want to feel like I'm part of the party and not just a wallflower.  I want to feel like the interaction is multi-directional and that someone is hearing me.  I want some modicum of validation that someone has connected with me.  On the surface, it may seems I am shallow and vain because I want them to admire my writing, but the truth is, my writing is me.  And like so many others, I yearn to make human connections and to be noticed, liked, and validated for who I am. 

That's why comments matter (to me).




 fabulously imperfect Nothing to See Here... Just Linda

Twitter @JustLindaSTL

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