In defense of internet comments


Alternate title: Thank you “concern trolls.”

The. Comments. Section.

Is it a new horror movie for the internet age? The new Wild Wild West? A lawless, dark place full of twisted characters and hate-filled toxic sludge? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes the spelling and grammar issues alone make me shudder and run for cover. (Srsly tho.)

Other times, I learn valuable things from this much-maligned internet alleyway.

internet comments, mom wars, concern trolls

Am I the only person alive who has gotten good advice from the comments section? Maybe. I pick and choose which commend sections to dive into. I also try to ignore clearly ridiculous comments. If I see red flags I skip over that comment. Lastly, this is the hardest: I try to remember that it’s hard to read tone in text, and that if the comments are about me/my post/my beliefs/my choices, it almost always comes across more harsh than the commenter intended.

You can call me naive but I think there is a distinct difference between mean/angry/rude/downright horrifying/seriously terrible spellers lurking in the comments and those commenters sincerely trying to be helpful. Do they always need to poke their nose in? No. Do they need to “pile on” if someone else has already commented with something similar? Maybe not.

Recently a media magnet named Kim posted a photo of her daughter and the comments stacked up about the car seat depicted.

Is pointing out car seat safety really “trolling”? Is posting links to articles from legitimate sources, or posing thoughtful questions in response to a thoughtful but polarizing opinion piece considered trolling? Is anything that’s not “omg this was awesome <3” trolling?

Mainstream media picked up on the story and even called on car seat safety experts to address the concerns. Kim did not need to hear 1,675 similar comments about her car seat, but maybe a reader or viewer did.

It’s all about how you present your comments or help/advice. Consider your words carefully. If the attention has already been drawn to a safety issue, consider if your additional comment is necessary.

I’m not living in la-la-land, I promise. What I’m trying to say is, if you skip over the obviously ridiculous rants, comments sections may have some redeeming qualities. Sometimes, issues brought up in the comments section are a big deal. Sometimes, they spark an interesting discourse.

I love getting to know people different than me but the truth is, the close friends and family I spend the most time with have pretty similar backgrounds and opinions as me. So a comment may bring up a point of view I had never considered.

Maybe I don’t have “the village” everyone keeps telling me I need to find. Maybe I find them in a Facebook group or yes, dare I say it, the comments section.


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