Don’t Read the Comments

I read every comment on my last post.

Every.

Single.

One.

I tried stopping after the first busy day. I couldn’t. I had to know what people were saying.

I’ve never written anything that became a thing. I’d never had strangers pass around my words. I had never become “The Internet”.

So I read all of the comments.

Most of the comments were attached directly to the blog. Some came to my gmail inbox. A few were sent on Twitter.

I found that the comments sent directly to my email were the most negative. Complete strangers had read my 900 (give or take) words, decided that they had enough information about me, and proceeded to rip me apart over email. One gentleman told me that he hoped I died of cancer so that my kids wouldn’t be infected by my negativity.

That one made me laugh.

For the most part, the comments on the first day were fairly positive. A few men thought that I was betraying the cause. A few women thought that I “sounded like I was a bad person”. But most applauded the honesty.

The second day was when the real fun started. This was when the comments really started to roll in. Again, most were positive, but the negative ones were taking a real turn. On person ripped apart everything he knew about me, all 900 words, and ended with “these are the kindest words I can think of”. That one bothered me. That’s when I decided to stop reading them.

The hiatus lasted for about an hour.

What can I say? In the end I’m an insufferable attention hog.

It wasn’t long before the positive comments started to bother me too. People were giving me psychological advice, again, based on 900 words. They were applauding my honesty but deeply concerned about my “selfish and possibly sociopathic tendencies”. That one came to my email.

Some thought that I wrote the post to receive a pat on the back or a medal. They assumed that I was writing it to get recognition. Never mind the fact that my blog had never received any significant traffic to speak of, before that post.

Again, people were attacking my personality, my actions and my perceived intentions. This gets pretty tiring when it’s a constant barrage.

The ones that really got me, though, were the ones that told me I wasn’t showing them enough. They accused me of writing flowery words, but not giving them enough evidence of my change. As if they were the appointed ruler of “The Internet” and I was begging for their leniency and pardon. The amount of delusion and self-satisfaction needed to write something like that, to a stranger, is mind-blowing.

But, on the other hand, maybe I’m just a sensitive asshole.

All of these comments were based on 900 words. People were diagnosing me, offering suicide tips, urging my wife to leave me, lamenting the inevitable poisoning of my sons all based on 900 words. They read my post and assumed that they had the whole story.

I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose. I didn’t tell them the whole story. People can only go off of what they’re given.

Things finally started slowing down a week after I wrote the post. Traffic was way down, and most comments left were positive. The few negative comments left were used to attack other commenters. I stopped receiving emails from strangers. People were no longer DM’ing me on Twitter.

It was nice.

I started to reflect on everything that had happened in the past week. I tried to figure out why I was so bothered by everything, when it hit me.

Very few people recognized my intention.

I was writing a love letter to my wife.

I was trying to tell her that I had finally heard her. I was trying to tell her that I had finally seen how my behaviors were affecting everyone in the house. I was trying to tell her that I wanted her to know that she was important to me and that I was trying to change.

Romance was never my strong suit.

So what’s the point of all of this?

I don’t know.

I suppose one could argue that I am a sensitive baby. One could argue that I have some serious issues with recognition and being liked. One could also argue that I’m just a windbag.

Any way one chooses, I just wanted people to know that I read the comments.

One day, you may become “The Internet”. When that day comes, try not to read the comments. If you can’t help it, try not to take it personally. If that doesn’t work, then wait two weeks and whine about it on a followup post.

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17 thoughts on “Don’t Read the Comments

  1. I’d like the name of the person claiming to be the self-appointed ruler of the internet, please. How dare they claim my crown? I made it myself out of tin foil, and it looks lovely while also preventing THEM reading my brainwaves….

    Anyway, I liked your last post and hope whatever it was I said wasn’t too pompous.

  2. Thanks Nate. I have never read your blog before, but I saw a link to it on facebook and I read your last post. I immediately sent it to my girlfriend. I want her to know that I (at least somewhat) understand and am sorry. I also read a lot of the comments. I wish I hadn’t but they are kind of addicting. I never comment on things and I wouldn’t have commented on your blog at all if it were not for this most recent post. I wanted to express that probably a lot of people who were most moved or appreciative of your work are also less likely to comment (like I was). At least that is what I tell myself and it makes me feel a lot better about the comments (and they are not even directed towards me).

    tl;dr (although I know you did)
    Thank you from all of the people who were moved by your article, there are more of us than the comments imply.

    • Thank you! I really appreciate your words. I’m completely blown away by stories like this. It’s still very strange knowing that people could relate to and appreciate something that I wrote. Again, thank you for the words.

  3. Man Nate, I can give you super suicide advice. I’m completely sure that was the entire point of both of these posts and am prepared to help you on your journey ending your own misery, along with everyone else’s.

    Yours truly,
    The Ruler of the internet.

    Just kidding. It’s Frizzi. If people are mad it you it should be for the show we’re going to do tonight.

  4. Isn’t this why we write? To get people to reflect? In my experience, a person’ reaction (to me) speaks more about how they feel about them self, than how they feel about me. For lack of better words… haters gonna hate. 😉

  5. I stand by my original comment written in your ’97 High School yearbook:
    Nate,
    You smell like old sweat socks.
    Love, Curtis

  6. I found your last post from a posting on g+.

    You are a human. A good one. Thanks for the well written post and your honesty.

  7. When I wrote a post that went viral, I had the same experience. It was overwhelming. I had never had more than a handful of comments, I had about 10 views a week. Then, I published THE POST, and within a week, had close to a million hits and close to 2000 comments. They included personal attacks, I was called every name in the book. I received death threats, or wishes of my death, even a wish for my young daughter to be violently raped. The less offensive ones just wanted to admonish me for my use of foul language. For the most part, the response was supportive and positive. Like you, I chose to respond to the negative ones, via another blog post, to inform them that if they didn’t like or disagreed with what I wrote or how I wrote it, they were more than welcome to close the window and never return.
    I assume that anyone that wants to take the time out of their day to tell a stranger that they hate them and hope they die, for no other reason than what they wrote on their personal blog which was read voluntarily, is mentally unstable, at minimum, not to mention, completely pathetic.

  8. I think you might get a few more posts on it, since I just followed a pin on Pinterest to it. I completely recognized it as a love letter. It’s lovely. I may have stayed married if I had ever received anything like that from my wasband.
    Your experience gives me pause. I’m about to blog about my new tiny house build. I had to stop reading some other blogs because of the negative crap that some people feel it’s their right, nay, obligation to spew. I think I’m prepared, but I fear I’m not. Bravo to you for coming out on the other side. Be very proud. You hit a nerve with many. You might have changed some minds. You certainly ignited discussion. Best regards.

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