Blogosphere Needs Less Hate, More Love

Show me a constructive argument, and I'll engage you

When my daughter was in grade school we encountered some bullying issues. She attended a small school, and a group of mean girls began calling her names. Naturally, she came home and looked to me for some advice. What to do? I had made it clear when she entered school that I don’t get involved in kid stuff. I figured that they all got a turn at being the victim so I never responded to parent calls for intervention. While I felt it was important for her to fight her own battles, supplying her with some ammunition didn’t seem like too much meddling. So this is what I told her: “When someone calls you a name, sweetheart, I want you to look them square in the eye and calmly say ‘You diminish yourself.’ They won’t know what that means, and when they go home and ask their Mommy, they’ll get in trouble.” Wasn’t long before I got a call from a mom who thought my dastardly advice was pure genius. As expected, her child came home and ratted out my kid for calling her what she believed must have been a horrible name. Mom saw through the clever trap and discovered that name-calling had gone both ways. She promised to share my sinister advice with other moms. You know, takes a village kind of thing.

[SIGNUP]This story came to mind recently when I read some blog comments. Blogging, unlike magazine or newspaper articles, is designed to be interactive. Readers often comment, as they should. They fall, in my observation, into three categories: those that appreciate what you’ve written, those that disagree (sometimes very strongly, offering an alternative view or criticism), and then there are the Angry Commenters. They don’t have the vocabulary or debate skills to offer anything past name-calling. No constructive argument, no persuasive discourse, just vitriol and ugliness. Truth is, I don’t mind some harshness in commentary; it shows passion of conviction. “Denise” once told me to “pull up my big girl panties.” She was angry about what I’d written and offered some enlightening input. I did, in fact, pull up said panties and we exchanged views on the matter. I appreciated her thoughts and thanked her for her strong words.

Hasn’t our president called for a softening of rhetoric? Less incendiary language and more honest conversation? Less hate, more love? You might argue that there’s a place for strong language in debate, but not, I contend, without some serious constructive discourse to justify it. Denise knows that you can tell someone you think they’re wrong in the strongest terms and then offer some information to educate them. So why do people resort to using profane, unkind, and hurtful comments without some meat to back them up? I respond to the Angry Commenters who offer input and argument. I do not respond to the name-callers, the ones who call me a jerk or an ass, a moron, an idiot or the ones who wish I were dead. You know who your are. But if I were to respond to you, I’d say: “You diminish yourself.”

Go ahead, go home and ask your Mommy.