When people have the guts and spend the time, money, blood, sweat and tears to venture online to post articles they’ve written under their own name, a lot of things can happen. Of course, some comments are mostly a rant and can wisely be ignored/deleted unless they contain threats. A call to your local police department might then seem to be the responsible reaction on the original writer’s part.
Otherwise, you’ll get one or more of the following responses:
- Sometimes people agree with you which is gratifying when it seems sincere.
- Most people ignore you which is to be expected.
- Sometimes the comments are mean and spiteful, even when the person infers they’re posting “for your own good.”
To address the latter:
- A person may say you’re dumb and ignorant. I see this a lot online where courtesy has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur, thanks to Internet trolls who spend hours every day looking for as many people as possible to rip apart. Even in responses to thoughtful articles by Kiplinger and Motley Fool, the comments come across as sour grapes from people who never planned ahead a day in their lives. Apparently they’re looking for someone to just hand them the money they need. Nice if you can get it.
Everyone has financial reverses that were not their fault … everyone. But some people think that saving a couple of dollars a week is too much to expect. And for an unfortunate percentage of our population, that’s true. But the vast majority of us can and should save whatever we can. Even a rainy day fund can be critical. Even if it’s not enough, at least we tried. And if retirement is staring us in the face, savings can be woefully inadequate, given the actions of those who’ve manipulated our economy for decades to cause the most misery to the most people. It’s easy to see why people throw up their hands in despair and even throw up, period.
- Depending on your topic, a person may say it’s past time to get out of that “cult” you joined. (As if your own family hasn’t been telling you that for decades.) This happens when your choice was the farthest thing from being a cult that you could ever find. What it really boils down to is that your article pricked someone’s conscience badly, and he or she is squirming over their conscience telling them to get off their duffs and change their ways. They know you made the right decision but don’t have enough ambition to improve their own future and that of their children.
- A commenter may say things that are even more personal. In some cultures this is called insulting your mother, simply because they can’t think of any other excuse, let alone something truly original to say. However, they may criticize your appearance, your social station, your hierarchy in the workforce or even in your religion. (This is the old You’re nobody, so why don’t you shut up? attack.) They may ridicule your kids. They may complain that your dogs are the worst-behaved in the entire neighborhood, just anything they can invent.
In this nation we still have freedom of speech and can only hope this will continue. It will be a fight and takes the involvement of everyone in the country to support it. Of course, some interpret this to mean they can use every vulgarity and threat ever offered in any language but they shouldn’t be surprised if they get shot down for it by those of us who value etiquette to keep society running smoothly.
You can also write anything you want, if you’re willing to pay the price for doing so. Just be warned that if you write something ugly or insulting in response to one of my articles, I will probably throw you under the bus in another article. Hiding behind a phony name won’t prevent that. Freedom of speech works both ways.
I have the guts to go online and post articles under my own name. If you don’t like what I write, go start your own blog. Invest your own time. Spend your own money. Sweat the blood and the tears. Oh, and having a little humility and empathy for humanity is a very good place to start.