By Caitlin Kelly
I’ve been spoiled here at Broadside by readers who are — thank you! — a lively, funny, smart group, from Danielle and Matthew and Cecile in New Zealand to Leah in Iowa to Rami in Ohio to Maddy in Lusaka to David and Elizabeth in England.
I’d name more, but there are (!) so many of you, which is unlikely but also lovely.
I want to pause our regularly scheduled programming to go a little meta for a moment.
The whole point of blogging, which I do in addition to writing for a living full-time, is to create a community where we can talk to one another frankly about the stuff that matters to us: work, love, the challenge of making a decent living while living our values, friends, family, heath, feminism, public policy, art, creativity, beauty, travel, home, design, ethics, writing, journalism — frankly, whatever seems interesting.
If it’s not fun, why bother?
Every day, five to 10 new people sign up to follow Broadside, which is crazy but flattering; we’re now at 4,600+ readers worldwide, of all ages and nationalities, from Haiti to Ghana to Malaysia to India to rural Australia.
So I was a little shaken recently to get a comment, which I trashed, (which I’ve done maybe twice in almost four years of blogging three times a week.)
I debated whether or not to trash it, or reply publicly or reply to them privately.
But I did trash it. Life is too short to argue with or absorb toxicity from people I don’t know, and for whom I work without a paycheck.
The commenter called me “weak” and a “fucking hypocrite.”
Everyone is entitled an opinion and I want to hear yours.
I’ve been called on the carpet a few times here by readers, for my short-sighted or stupid or unkind thinking. It’s useful and interesting, as long as everyone remains civil and respectful, even in the middle of a hotly contested argument.
But no one is entitled to ad hominem attacks here, on me or on anyone else who makes the time to come here, read and comment.
So I welcome your ideas and insights, your advice and stories. I am very eager to hear comments, especially from more of you.
But nasty behavior not only scares and annoys me, it creates a tone I don’t want here and inhibits others from speaking out.
This whole talking-to-total-strangers thing requires a level of trust and candor that is highly counter-intuitive, to me anyway.
When I write journalism, the comments flooding in to The New York Times in reply to my stories there, (258 came in worldwide on one recent story about workers over 50), are very rarely directed at me personally. I’m shielded both by the nature of those stories — far less personal than these posts — and by the institution that chooses to publish my work. Nor am I required, (as a freelancer), to reply to anyone.
I did read every single of those 258 NYT comments, in full. But the rules of engagement here are very different. I do answer almost every comment here.
So let’s stay cool, OK?
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for being here.