Every day of my life I read blogs that are completely bombarded by bad, uninformed, overly-emotional, irrational comments. Unfortunately, Christians are some of the worst offenders. So, I created a quick 5 question checklist that we should all consider before commenting on any blog, anywhere.
#1. Did I read the entire article?
It’s disturbing how often people read the title of an article and comment as if they know what the post was actually about. Really read the article before chiming in so that you can craft a response that is thoughtful and actually interacts with what the writer said. If you don’t have time to read the article right then, wait to comment until you get the time.
#2. Is my comment mean-spirited?
Is this something I would say to the writer’s face? Is this something I would say with my little children sitting beside me, carefully following every word? Is this something I would be proud to have printed in the church bulletin? No? Probably shouldn’t say it.
#3. Did I consider that blog writers are real people who actually read comments?
I have often wondered if people think that bloggers are robotic, unfeeling creatures who just enjoy stirring up trouble with their words. Take a moment to try and remember that this writer is someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter. Look at her picture. Imagine sitting across the dinner table from her. And then, even if you do have to disagree, do it in the respectful way you would if she were standing in front of you with her kids by her side. No one likes a bully.
#4. Am I addressing what the writer actually said?
So often I read comments that have very little do with what the blog post was about. Sometimes I wonder if everyone has severe reading comprehension problems. Don’t read a blog about raising daughters and then comment about whether women should use a cover when breastfeeding. So you have a few hot button issues. Not every comment on every blog has to lead back to your issues. Interact with what the writer actually wrote about or move on.
#5. Am I letting my own specific experiences/prejudices/pet peeves ruin my comments?
If you read a post that doesn’t directly and specifically apply to you, don’t feel like you need to say so. Doesn’t exactly match up with your experience? It’s really okay. You don’t have to highjack the comments to complain that the writer didn’t precisely describe your personal experience. We all have stories to tell. And, you can still learn from others’ experiences, even if (maybe especially if) they’re different from your own.
I hope thinking through checklists like these will help us improve blog comments everywhere. The internet world has made everyone slow to listen and quick to speak, but we don’t have to fall into that trap. We need to think of blogs as more of a friendly conversation and less of a chance to one-up and insult each other.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20