A Comment about Comments — and A Note of Thanks

I LOVE reading comments from friends and family after I post something. I enjoy hearing other people’s stories, or their perspectives and memories, whether they are the same or different than mine. Plus, I so appreciate knowing that people have taken time out of their busy lives to come and see what we’re up to. It makes me feel loved, and valued, and remembered, after being so far away from home for so long. Seriously, I cannot overstate how much it means to me to hear from you.

Which is why what I’m going to say next might sound a little strange. I’ve hinted at this a couple of times, but I think I need to explain myself more clearly (which is more than slightly ironic, lol). I need to let you know that I’m trying out a new policy of *not* responding to comments, at least most of the time. I also want to let you know that I’m not at all sure it’s the right thing to do.

Bear with me as I try to explain.

First of all, this has nothing to do with volume or traffic. I have both a lot of free time and a low-traffic blog on my hands, so that’s not the issue at all.

The issue, at least as I see it, is that I have the urge to enthusiastically reply “thank you!” and “I love you too!” to each comment. But when I look back on older posts in which I’ve done that, I start to hear my own voice way too much, instead of yours. It’s almost like I’m trying to control the conversation, or like I’m being too greedy, scooping up all these compliments for myself. This could be a totally irrational self-consciousness issue of mine, but to be honest, I feel the same way when I read strangers’ blogs. When the author replies to each comment, I start to cringe a little.

It’s different than a Facebook post. A blog post is (generally) longer, and (hopefully) a little better thought out. The author has already had ample opportunity to make his or her voice heard, loud and clear. So in the comments, we really don’t need to keep hearing that same voice. Even if it’s just a note of thanks.

According to the internet, my opinion on this is pretty clearly in the minority. Most bloggers feel great responsibility to reply to all. But I came across one who made an interesting analogy. He said being a blogger is like hosting a dinner party. His job is to provide the venue (the website) and the menu (the post), as well as the freedom to let the guests (the readers) mingle. At a real dinner party, if he took it as his responsibility to interject and respond each time a guest made a comment, it would be bizarre to draw that much attention to himself.

We already know that blogging is a pretty self-absorbed sort of thing to do, right? I often worry about that. So, by handing over the comments to YOU and taking a less active role in managing them, I guess I’m trying to make up for that.

The danger, though, is that you won’t feel appreciated for taking the time to reach out. I hope that by writing this open letter to you, you’ll know now and well into the future that that’s not the case! You are VERY much appreciated.

And I’ve been wanting to say this for some time, too — it’s not just those of you commenting publicly that I appreciate! I know from the blog’s traffic stats that there are many more readers than there are commenters. There are lots of reasons for that, one of which is our tendency to read on smartphones, and while waiting at stoplights. (Stop doing that, by the way!) Also, many people are uncomfortable expressing themselves in writing. (I’m the opposite; it’s face-to-face where I show my social anxieties. Which is so much fun.) WordPress makes you log in to leave a comment, I think, and a lot of people are wary about privacy and/or don’t need yet another login to manage. I totally get that. Connecting on Facebook is easier for many of us; seeing your “likes” or comments there does my heart a lot of good, too. I have a friend who emails me privately after almost every blog post, which is really sweet, and sometimes people who I assume aren’t reading at all will surprise me with a comment in person, during the rare occasions I get to go home. Everyone has their own preference, and any form of connection makes me happy!

I hope that making an announcement like this isn’t going to discourage future comments; that’s not my goal. If anything, I hope that each of you feels less pressure, and more freedom. Come and go or stay for awhile, as you wish. Say nothing, a little, or a lot, as you are able. Above all, I hope I’ve been able to express how grateful I am that you’re here with me at all, even if it’s just one article a year.

It’s Thanksgiving today, isn’t it? That snuck up on me. Even after all this time, I still haven’t been able to to associate “holidays” with November here, when it’s hot and humid outside. And over here we don’t have the ENDLESS TV commercials and holiday jingles and store decorations to remind us. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen turkeys for sale at our grocery store this time. Guess I’ll have to go harvest some green papayas for dinner tonight!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I’m grateful for all of you.

One comment

  1. You are an amazing person, both as a blogger & in real life! Your writing is superb & transports me (& so many others) to your little slice of heaven in the Congo. Love you! K

    Like

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