“Your MOM has become SO trite and meaningless!” is what I almost wrote. But I didn’t.
Maybe I should back up for a minute…
I recently read a blog by a Canadian living in Japan. Having been an expat living in Asia before I appreciated the post. I commented on it and congratulated the writer on being Freshly Pressed. A short time later I had a notification that there was a reply to my comment. To my bewilderment, it said simply that congratulating someone on being Freshly Pressed ‘has become SO trite and meaningless!’
I was taken aback at the negativity but didn’t have time to really look at it. I needed to get the girls ready for bed. As I put small jammies on wiggly feet I thought “Did I really just wish someone well only to be insulted for it?” It was so contrary to any of my other experiences with the blogging world that I then thought “Maybe I didn’t read the whole thing. Sometimes the window showing the quote doesn’t show it in it’s entirety.” Once the girls were in bed I went back to the blog post and realized two things: #1 That really was it. Just a flip negative response. #2 The reply was not even from the author of the post. It was from some random blogger.
What was worse….After replying to my comment (and insulting one or two other people for their well-wishes) he went on to write a ranting, scathing, comment insulting the author of the post….It was a long-winded series of insults, during which he tried to outline how to be respectful to other cultures. Let’s just set aside the fact that he totally missed the entire point of the poem (which was partly about working to learn the customs of a country in which you are a foreigner so as to be respectful of their culture). The irony was almost too much to bear. With a total lack of respect, or even common decency, civility, or manners of any sort, he was attempting to explain how amazing he is at respecting others when he travels and how everyone should do things just like him.
After deciding against the “YOUR MOM” retort I stopped and wondered “Why does someone I don’t know being mean to someone else I don’t know bother me so much?” The answer was obvious: Because he was being a bully. He was tearing someone else down to make himself feel bigger.
I can’t say I have a ton of experience in the blogger world, but what I have had has been very positive. In general, it’s a lot of people who are passionate about sharing thoughts, photos, experiences, skills….whatever they are excited to share with a circle of friends or the world…whoever wants to read it. Comments are welcome and are generally positive and encouraging. When someone does disagree, I’ve always seen differences of opinion expressed in respectful and productive ways. You know – as they should be – as well adjusted adults are capable of doing.
I’m quite certain that bullies of any age are not particularly interested in listening to what anyone else has to say so I really did almost drop the whole thing. But then I remembered a story my mother in law told Andy and I upon our return from Scotland. Trinity was at the playground playing with some neighborhood girls when some older boys came over and started picking on one of her friends. Linda said Trinity didn’t hesitate to step in and confront them “Those are my friends! You shouldn’t be mean to them!” (That’s my girl!)
So with my almost 7 year old as inspiration I hit that little “reply” button and wrote a response to the vitriolic blogger. I held back many of my thoughts in an attempt to keep it productive. But I did say: “For someone who claims to have a hatred for “ugly Americans” you sure are fluent in spreading ugliness. I feel sad for you, especially since you didn’t understand this beautiful simple poem to begin with. Perhaps you should make sure you understand something before commenting on it.” Of course I thought of a million better things I could have said ten minutes after the fact, but I’m convinced that what was said is not nearly as important as the fact that someone bothered to say it. I’m sure that for all the attention he will pay to it I may as well have stood on the playground and yelled “That’s my fellow blogger! You shouldn’t be mean to her!”
I’ll probably never be Freshly Pressed so he’ll never read this either, but just for that one in a million chance: This goes out to the Vitriolic Blogger, “I spit in your general direction.” Or, you know, I would if it didn’t mean I would have to clean off my computer screen.