The Comment Section

Ah, the comment section. Does it really matter where? It could be on an article on a news website. It could be on a post on social media. It could be anywhere else for that matter.

The comment section is often proof enough for why we can’t have nice things.

It’s often proof enough for why we need to have pride parades and festivals in communities. It’s proof for why we need to stand with both Islamic and Jewish faith communities. It’s proof for why women would choose the bear over a man in the woods. It’s proof for why proclamation of Good News is so very necessary. Because the comment section if often not good news.

I’m not sure who came up with the concept of the comment section. I’m sure they had good intentions. Maybe the idea was similar to how social media began – an attempt to connect people digitally. The idea of the comment section was born from an idealist who thought that adults would act like adults, show respect, contribute something useful, and be kind to others. And sometimes we get folks who are those very things commenting. I am grateful for these people. They give me a bit of hope in humanity.

But more often than not, the other type of commenter pops on and decides that there is far too much positivity for them. That’s when they decide to share their gospel message with everyone else, whether we asked for it or not. And by gospel message, I’m not talking about Jesus. I’m talking about cruelty, racism, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, war mongering, hatred, fear, thirst for violence and revenge, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, scapegoating, ignorance, and more.

It used to be that these types of comments would only appear when people could comment anonymously. But those days are past. Now all of that is on full display, right with the person’s name attached to it. There is no shame. It is not hidden. But names don’t really matter, to be honest. If it wasn’t the person making the comments, there would be someone else doing it.

I’ve seen such commenting on stories about shootings. I’ve seen such comments on a story about a community launching a pride fest. I’ve seen such comments related to education. Heck I’ve even seen such comments on a video of a magician on America’s Got Talent.

The commenters are always there, ready to evangelize their misery and proclaim their message of hatred, fear, and cruelty. They are looking to suck the life and joy out of anything that might hint at shalom, wholeness, humanity, or thriving life. The commenters are scouts for the empire of violence seeking to destroy anything oriented towards living, ready to bring about its destruction and ruin. The commenters bask in division, harshness, and seeing others suffer.

Should we get rid of the comment section? You may be surprised by my answer – no.

I have a saying from back when I did political campaigns – people are going to complain about something. It it better to determine in advance what that is.

The comment section works like that. Because the beauty of these commenters spewing their hatred online is that they aren’t spending time doing something that could actually harm someone even more. That’s not to say that what happens online is innocent and without effect. It’s not and there are terrible effects. But if someone is busy online commenting, they aren’t doing something else more destructive. Let’s be honest, these are folks who seem intent on doing these type of things.

Something else I learned long ago applies to this as well. You know you are making progress based on the criticism and pushback you are receiving. The harder the pushback, the worse the insults, and the louder the cruelty – the more progress you are making. Keep it up. Keep pushing. The change you are implementing is a threat to the status quo of cruelty. Of course those who benefit from a cruel status quo are going to pitch a fit and throw a tantrum. Keep pushing harder. They will get louder. And you keep pushing. That’s how progress is made. It’s not easy. It doesn’t come without a cost. Anything worth doing comes with difficulty and people fighting back. And keep in mind, you probably aren’t going to get them on your side anyway.

In the end it comes down to this – do you care more about being liked by everyone, or making an impact? If you care about being liked by everyone, you’ve already failed because no one has ever gotten that. Some with agree with you and like what you are doing. Some won’t and will try to stop you. So what. Keep going. Your job isn’t to be liked by everyone. Your job is to be true to who you are and who are you called to be. And to care about the opinions of those that actually do care about you. Listen to them.

As for the commenters, you don’t have to engage in a response with them. But if you do, remember, you don’t argue with idiots. They will bring you down to their level, and then beat you from years of experience. Sometimes the best response is silence. Other times, it’s telling people they are free to block you if what you have to say bothers them that much. You send them a clear message that they are not in control of you and that will continue saying and doing what you are saying and doing. Your job isn’t to win everyone over. Some times the most loving thing to do with such people is to remove them from your life.

The comment section is a blessing and a curse. Don’t mix it up.

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