If you have read more than one blog post on this site (and congratulations you may be one of the only ones, except my Mom and Dad. Hi, guys. I’ll try not to say anything dirty this time) you’ve probably noticed that I do not allow comments.
Not yet. I have a somewhat philosophical problem with comments…
Comments give the illusion that every voice is equal.
Now you might be saying, “But every voice is equal! I know for a fact that men and women died for my right to comment on the internet. It’s in the first amendment. The declaration of independence, too. Didn’t you listen to our founding fathers, “one nation under God, invincible, with liberty and justice for ALL.” ALL, it’s right there in the constitution. This makes me so mad! Where is the comment button… oh right… crap.”
You might think that I am exaggerating for a cheap laugh but I have read all of these statements in internet comments. (All except for the stymied search for the comment button. That’s just my wish fulfillment fantasy.) What you may have also noticed is that most of that statement is just factually wrong. The pledge of allegiance was not written by our founding fathers, and it is most certainly not in the constitution. The constitution has a preamble but it is definitely not the pledge of allegiance. The pledge of allegiance was used to stamp out communism in school children in the fifties and has none of Jefferson’s egalitarianism or Madison’s style. (Okay, I’m gonna get mad… which makes me no better than the imaginary commentator…It’s so contagious!)
The point I am trying to make is there is no fact checking on comments sections. There is no bona fide. There is not even a guarantee of humanity, and frankly with the amount of trolls out there, humanity is becoming doubtful in real life too. It is our own modern day lynch mob.* And although, thank god, you cannot physically hang a person through the comment section, you can incite violence and hate and irrational (feels so good) anger. What’s worse is that comments and tweets are now considered news. I can’t count the amount of times I have seen the headline, “People aren’t happy!” Like, no shit. (I won’t even get into the president’s use of twitter… Oy.)
Truthfully, I have a medical reason as well for shutting down the comment section. And it’s not my blood pressure, no matter how worked up I get. For those who have not read about my mental illness, I have what is called Avoidant Personality Disorder, which to quote Jenny Lawson is like “anxiety on speed.”
Comment sections and AvPD are simply contraindicated. For a “normal person” a particularly aggressive or unkind comment might make them mad, sad, or even ruin their day. For a person with AvPD it will become an ear worm. A parasitic phrase that invades their every thought. They will carry it with them, throbbing in the back of their mind. It will swim across their vision when they least expect it, causing them to gasp. It will wake them from their sleep because they can hear it scratching at the back of their consciousness.
Again, this is not an exaggeration.
Personally, I use a stereo when it gets too bad. I turn it up, and up, and up until I can feel the bass in my stomach and the sound of it is just about to make my ears bleed. It can drown out that madness for a moment. Just enough to give my brain a chance to reset. It’s not entirely dissimilar from shock therapy, although much more gentle. Since the birth of my son I can’t even do that anymore, it would scare the bejeesus out of him, so I have to do it in the car like a teenager.
Someone’s masturbatory anger jag on a comment board, or even just some righteous opinion giving is not worth my time or energy. Not when it takes away from my family and my writing. I have a novel, several hundred pages, just sitting in the cloud, unfinished, because I know that my illness won’t allow it to be seen.** That’s another reason for this blog, systematic desensitization therapy. In that vain, I will one day turn on the comments. Just, not yet.
*Lynching is one of the darkest stains on our nation’s history, I don’t invoke it lightly. I could turn the stereo all the way up, hoping to scream out the injustice of citizens murdered by mobs of angry people— young men, often boys, pulled from the street— but no sound can outshout those ghosts. There is a beautiful and haunting new monument in Alabama for those murdered souls. I plan on going to see it. I hope you do too.
** John has often said that if I do publish my novel he will immediately cut off my access to the internet, prophylactically… sheesh… “Masturbatory,” “in the car like a teenager,” and now “prophylactically.” Sorry Mom and Dad, I can’t help myself.
*** Love that mug? Me too. Emily McDowell and her cards really are hilarious. You should buy this mug.