Privilege Blog

What To Do About Internet Haters, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:57am

What to do about Internet haters? I’m back from a week posting at Corporette, and while in the end it was a lot of fun, and the vast majority of the readers very gracious, the first comment on my first post read,

2. A week that revolves around 00.001% of people.

God, this blog really sucks lately. I need to stop checking it every morning.

She meant it, following up with,

I stand by I hate the jacket, think its(sic) pretentious, and think most of you women are and especially so to the guest bloggers(sic) blog.

This was not my first rodeo, as they say. I’ve dealt with all kinds of comments over the years. For example, in reply to an early post, Can You Wear A Simple Pearl Strand With Simple Pearl Studs?

You are so WRONG! I just keep thinking you must be a fake because of the things your (sic) write about. Pearl studs and a simple strand of pears (sic) is understated, preppy, old money, elegance. Where did you hail from? It took your son’s friend to come to the East Coast South (sic) to learn to dress like a lady. No offense intended, but you could not be more wrong.

Then on,  Why Do They Call Paris the City of Light? we have this. Hey, both camps of the socioeconomic/political battles into which I’ve parachuted deserved equal time.

is this for real?

i’m not seeing any ‘examination’ of the ‘implications’ of ‘privilege.’

all i’m seeing is the eulogising of wealth & greed, in the face of global poverty and crisis.

where is the ‘examination’?

where is the reckoning with ‘privilege’ – and the recognition of backs it stands on?

if your blog claimed simply to be “Glorifying Money, Power, and My Own Special Rank”… i’d get it.

maybe your next little trip could be to refugee camp in the Congo, where you could assist the women victims of genocide and rape… it might make your position of privilege a little more clear.

While the most serious and deepest hit came elsewhere on the Internet, where it was said of me,

Can’t help but think that she started this blog so she could feel like a “somebody” in this world, because barely anyone in Silicon Valley cares about her East Coast snobbery. I mean, for the most part tech millionaires/billionaires leave that NYC society circuit shit alone (not that they don’t donate, they do). She posted once that people in the Bay Area can wake up a millionaire suddenly … as if that were a bad thing. Well, yes, it would be if your self esteem were based on what your family did two or three hundred years ago instead of what you’ve contributed to society today.

…the silliest, or at least the ones that made me laugh, were right here at home.

White legs(ugh) use a self tanner! Hair(scary) great figure, clothes, pose. That hair kills the look. Mabey(sic) start to wear it in an updo.the hair looks like a Calico cat.

After 5 years, I’ve developed some ideas on how to cope with what is perhaps not quite Internet Hate, but surely Vociferous Scorn. Although many of you don’t blog, or maybe even say much online, the thoughts might be useful even when faced with criticism in the flesh. Hey, I hope they are useful to someone because they made a serious dent in my lifetime supply of Deep Breaths.

Principle #1. Learn From Even The Worst By Accepting What You Hear As True, Even If It’s Not

Heard in calm, almost everything teaches. Even if what’s being said is completely preposterous, your own reaction to the words is information you can use to better understand yourself. And if what you hear hurts, and cracks self-beliefs you’d held onto for a long time, sit quietly with the ideas as though they were not dangerous and you can come out larger than when you went in.

  • The commenter who questioned my bona fides made me realize that I am in fact real – I just don’t comport with the generally held stereotypes about my culture of origin. In some ways those stereotypes are wrong, in some ways I’m just weird. I can live with that.
  • The commenter who suggested that I travel to the Congo, well, he or she is right. The most absolute moral reaction to a realization of my privilege would be to dedicate myself to service. I’ve talked about that on the blog, and how my response will involve volunteering, in time. But virtue is possible on a small, immediate scale too. I hew to a personal behavior standard of generosity and loyalty, also known as, I Try Not To Be A Jerk.
  • The writer who pointed out that I felt small in Silicon Valley was right. Ouch. Learn from ouch. I have used this blog to hash out anxieties driven by an unspoken history, to sort out what is cultural and what specific to our little family. And in the process have found my anxieties recede. Anxieties will keep pounding at the door if you sit on the other side, trying not to open up, they are much quieter up close.
  • And Lewellyn, where has she/he gone, taught me that somewhere along the way I must have decided that I am attractive enough. Therefore, when you point out the failings of my hair and skin I’m going to laugh. That’s a long way from bulemia. Go little life experience, go.

Principle #2. Be Careful About Involving Dear Ones In Your Battles

The thing is, when you decide to rise about the fray, those who care for you may step in. And then they may take some punches. My readers here are very important to me, so I stand by a policy which allows you to say almost anything to me, but nothing rude or hostile to each other. It felt good the first time you all rushed to my defense. The next few times, I started to feel cheap, like if I am not going to fight my battles, it’s not right to let others get hit.

Principle #3. Sometimes The Lesson Is That You Don’t Have To Take It, So Decide How You Want To Engage

Which bring us to this. Sometimes you just have to fight. And when you do, you’ve got to choose a voice that you can live with. My cultural heritage says Do Not Show Excess Emotion; my temperamental heritage insists; Feel All The Things; hence, a history of remaining almost belligerently rational right up until the moment I pour a glass of red wine onto the white tablecloth and burst into tears. In other measures, 0-35 OK, 90-110 OK, 35-90 completely incapable.

The blog has given me a little gem. Time. It’s allowed me to inhabit the deep breaths. The minutes between reading something that hurts or humiliates or angers me, and my response, are teaching me who I am in that space. Expanding my self, if I can speak in large terms, and with gratitude to you all. And in full recognition that I am not now nor ever will be the Buddha.

When I replied to the commenter at Corporette, here’s what I said.

If you guys find the jacket boring, click on the link – the interest is in the perforations. If you find my posts boring, perhaps someone could ship me some Ayahuasca and I could lead you on a vision quest for leopards? Or maybe we could get the Long Island Medium to give a hair tutorial? I’m sure there’s something this resourceful community could come up with.

The other day I even deleted a rude comment on Privilege that offered no new insight. Horrors.

I suspect I’ll rely on humor. What else I’ll need I don’t even know yet. But as long as I keep writing here, I have no doubt someone will teach me.

130 Responses

  1. Lisa, you are the coolest person I know (even though we don’t actually know each other. I rarely comment here because I don’t believe I can add to what you and other readers write. But this time I just HAD to step in. I wish that I were as composed and unflappable as you are. The points you mentioned above should be very helpful to those of us (surely I am not the only one) who are more thin-skinned.

    Thank you for showing us it can be done!

    1. @Carole, You are very kind. I promise you I am not so composed and unflappable in the flesh. I am trying to model the way I want to behave, in order that IRL Lisa gets closer and closer to Blog Lisa. Just as Blog Lisa has become more and more like IRL Lisa. That’s been the revelation of the blogging process.

  2. I shouldn’t be surprised about rude comments on blogs after 7 years but they still do. Maybe it’s my nature to just move along when something isn’t to my liking in whatever sense – or is that just lazy?
    You’re a model of good humour and the rational. Thank you for sharing your Principles!

  3. Lisa: I CANNOT believe you’ve encountered those comments. Lord. I can only suggest that you lean on this aphorism: they don’t criticize if they’re not reading (and you’ve got to be pretty popular to experience that vitriol).

    I think your response to the criticism is veritably enlightened, to be honest. Haters gonna hate. And writers gonna write (thankfully).

  4. I read your post on Corporette, and saw the comment to which you refer. And thought…holy ****…what is SHE talking about??? It kind of made me recoil, head snapped back, mouth open. So, I’m not sure what my reaction would have been if it had been directed at me.
    I am baffled by the vitriolic comments I read all over the net. I just, frankly, do not get it! It seems to so many that the only way to make their opinion known is to go WAY over the top! I encountered this all the time with my 14 year old students… but this behaviour in adults just makes me despair about the state of our society.

  5. I feel you are quite brave to leave the “I thoroughly enjoy your comments” line above the comments section at this point.

    Not sure why people feel they can be hateful online. The anonymity possibly? Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just “delete” or stop reading?

    I enjoy reading your blog. Some aspects I relate to, others no, but you are close enough to my demographic that definitely more good than bad. Possibly you were guesting on a blog with a demographic that couldn’t relate and they got fussy because their regular pablum wasn’t available.

    Keep on keeping on. LOVE your gray hair and wish my mouse brown shot through with gray strands would just go ahead and do it already and turn solid gray (or preferably white). But no, stuck with highlighting until the whole head gets it together. And with my genetics that will be another ten years. Ugh.

    Happy weekend, in spite of it all.

    1. @Nancie Nelson Bartley, Thank you. I had a lovely weekend, and these comments were a big part of it. I think you may be right, that when one writes outside a blog’s comfort zone, the readers are way more apt to get annoyed.

  6. It is interesting how polarizing your blog can be. I always enjoy the comments to see who is saying what. And I also enjoy the blog, it’s a very different place than the one I inhabit.

    1. Thank you. Reading this, it occurs to me that I’m trying to simultaneously point out how different this place is and how universal. Impossible task, probably, but I have to do it for my own growth.

  7. I too am a corporette reader (though not a poster) and flinched when I read the first comment. The irony, of course, is that the site itself is dedicated mostly to the dress code of New York biglaw — calling for full business suits and debates about the appropriateness of peep-toe shoes — which in and of itself is kind of a 0.001% of professional women thing. The world of appropriate corporate business wear for women has shifted almost entirely to nice business casual in the last 10 – 15 years, and the New York biglaw women are the 0.001% dinosaurs, not you. You handled yourself graciously as always. Welcome back home.

    1. @Susan, Thanks, so nice to be here:). I will also be happy to go back to Corporette. Much more of the commenting was very, very supportive and appreciative.

  8. For those times when I come across a blog whose overall content doesn’t appeal to me, I move on. I don’t bookmark, I don’t revisit. It would never occur to me to leave a negative message. If I was paying for a subscription to receive information to educate me or to brighten my day and then found that the complete opposite was occurring, I would simply cancel my subscription with a brief note of why I was doing so.

    Lisa, I enjoy your writing and your visuals. Thank you for putting yourself out there.

    1. @Kim, Thank you for reading. Thanks for the kind word on my visuals, since I’m so new to photography and graphics I’m especially tickled you enjoy my stuff.

  9. Wow. I went to check out the corporettr blog, found it uninteresting , clicked off. This is what you do when you don’t want to read something! Nasty commenst are just that, nasty. There are so many blogs that I have read, briefly, until I realize the blog owners don’t interest me for whatever reason. I love your blog. I continue to read and enjoy it. I don’t have to agree with everything, but there has to be enough interest for me to keep reading. Yours does it. Please keep doing what you do.

    1. @Mary Anne, I will keep doing since I don’t think I can do anything else! And yes, I would never expect people to agree with me on everything. But I would expect, and you guys are great, that disagreement be voiced with the intent to further understanding all around, not just be nasty. As you say.

  10. I think that the haters are a good sign. While you certainly don’t want them to represent the majority of your readership, these haters cared enough about the content to 1) read it and 2) comment on it. Lordy knows how hard it is to attract readers and get comments, period.

    Though the haters’ comments are not the ones we want or the ones that make us feel good, they are symptomatic of your content: it’s not beige, it’s not patronizing and, apparently, it ellicits an emotional response.

    Whether your planning on it or not, looks like your stirring a little controversy, a desired thing from a marketing POV. Best is that you won’t bend to the haters and continue writing with your authentic voice. Armed with your set of instructiions above, you should be doing just fine!! ;-)

    1. @Anne-Marie, Well said Anne-Marie. As much as it causes our own dear writer to sit with the ouch moments, it is causing these readers to do the same. Maybe somewhere the same crack of light will begin to dawn on their own dogmas.
      They say in marketing that ‘some response is better than no response’. So a response in and of itself is neither considered good nor bad. It just is. Not saying I’d like any of those things said to moi of course. Love, Aunty Ada, (wearing a sequinned kaftan) Mwa. xx

  11. I really empathize here…it is a sad state of affairs when people are cruel.
    Good manners are always in style and those who are rude just show their lack of good breeding.
    I have had some negative comments left on my blog and now I just delete them.
    There is nothing to be gained by letting these “trolls” have an audience on my blog. It might sound harsh but it is my blog and rudeness is not tolerated.
    Once I had two commenters fighting back and forth with nasty comments and I deleted those too…it is not the calm and peaceful ambiance that I insist on.
    Keep writing and remember for every negative comment there are thousands and thousands who remain supportive and loyal.

  12. Lisa, I read your blog, and other blogs when you guest write them, but have never commented. I don’t usually see any need to add to the comments. However, today I want to say, your blog has been a great joy and comfort to me. This middle age thing is complicated to negotiate and your example has been inspiring. I suspect I am not the only lurker out here who feels the same. The next time someone decides to use your comments section to unload hatefulness I hope you will remember that.

    1. Thank you for saying hello. I appreciate every comment, every kind word even more, and most of all, more than praise per se, the idea that someone has found comfort, joy, or utility in what I write. It’s the ultimate privilege, to be allowed to have an impact in the lives of others.

    1. @Wendy Bird, Wendy – If that scarf is as good as it looks I think you’d own it and enjoy it and be known for it for a long, long time. And yes, a little controversy is authentic.

  13. Useful stuff. I was brought up with the line ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ and I am still shocked by the vitriol I find all over the internet, for no discernible reason. (I think it’s the anonymity and lack of accountability that also allow for road rage and internet crime; a possible disappointing explanation, but not an excuse.) For this reason, I tend to avoid whole swathes of the internet. I don’t read Corporette, for example, because I’ve seen that kind of comment all over it, and there’s enough negativity out there without going looking for some. But as usual, you’ve managed to learn something from these encounters, and I will try to take a leaf out of your book! Your grace and bravery put my ostrichy behaviour to shame.

    Incidentally, I put up a post about my working wardrobe last week, asking for feedback. Everyone was incredibly nice, and their (useful, constructive, actively sought) comments still hurt a little bit. I would be grateful for yours, too :-)

    1. @Philippa, You aren’t an ostrich – avoiding all the conflict and hostility is a perfectly reasonable strategy, as long as it’s doable. It is true, as people have said here, that I put myself out there and people are going to disagree. If I avoided all negativity, I’d miss out on a lot. I think it’s really important to remember that there are many different ways to approach the ambiguous parts of life – that’s why they are ambiguous, after all:).

  14. I applaud your even keeled, balanced, and considered post on this subject. It’s a tough one because a comment sometimes can be equally not interpreted the right way as it was meant ( I have been guilty of that and then cringed bc I didn’t edit and normally just write the first thing that pops in my head) The few negative comments I have had I felt I needed to defend myself but that gets boring too. I think we are all adults but the one effect I don’t like from negative comments is that it actually prevents me from writing some posts I would like to bc I dont want to deal with any possible negativity. I am sure I am not the only one in that position. But having said that, vive la difference and I hope that you “keep calm and carry on” as they say!

    1. @coulda shoulda woulda, Thanks. I agree, learning to incorporate possible future reactions into our visions for a post is inevitable, and I am just trying to keep myself open to as wide a range of responses as possible, hoping that that enables me to say as much as possible of what I want to say.

  15. Phew, none of your quoted comments were anything I wrote – she wipes a little sweat from her brow. The comments on Corperetta are so often off-topic, I hope you were prepared for the snark. All in all I think it’s pretty clever of you to get a post out of what people said about you, it’s like money for nothing and chicks for free.

    1. @RoseAG, I was prepared for snark. And I don’t think you’ve ever snarked at me, hmmm, unless this is it:).


  16. Hello Lisa, The issue raised here goes well beyond questions of manners and hurt feelings. Those commenters seem belligerent and unstable, and I can recall some blogs that were ended when the writers felt personally threatened (Yankee-Whisky-Papa at Boxing the Compass comes to mind).

    Constructive disagreement is usually welcomed, but this kind of threatening negativity undermines the balance of trust that exists among the blogging world, ultimately destroying it for both readers and writers.

    1. @Parnassus, Jim, real threats are an entirely different matter, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I am so sorry that happened to YWP.

  17. You handled this very well Lisa. I assume that you want honest feedback and not merely sycophants and that is sometimes a very fine line…in the case of Corporette, however the abuse was blatant. You fielded it very gracefully. I appreciate hearing varying points of view, on your blog and others, and would hate to see that inhibited, but good manners must prevail.

    1. @Kathy, Yes to honest feedback – I don’t want and don’t think the readers want sycophants. But yes, please, civility and consideration.

  18. Many times I’ve casually checked out a new blog or other internet posting and been gobsmacked by the negative, rude comments. Some readers seem to enjoy having a verbal punch up with other readers or the blogger. Awful stuff. I’m happy to keep reading your blog for the interesting thoughts and good writing, and because I know I’m not going to run into that kind of behaviour.

    1. @LauraH, Thank you very much. I am honored to have such a wonderful community here, those who comment, and those who simply read.

  19. Blogs, by there very nature, are an intimate insight into the author(s) and their personal view of their world. It requires a fair degree of courage to put yourself out there for all to read, and comment on , at will.

    Why do people only anticipate positive reactions from others about content or demand that those that hold contradictory views move on without saying a word (nicely or not) if it varies from their own? Deleting comments is always an option, and who can blame people for that reaction, but in the final analysis what has been said that rattles so profoundly truly indicates the sensitive aspects of the blog owner and in that lessons (if sufficiently reflected on) can be (painfully) learned about oneself. And that is a gift for anyone.

    1. @Mel, Yes, I agree with all of the above. First, it does take courage, or at least the capacity to close one’s eyes and press submit. Which might be foolhardy rather than courageous, but let’s say courage since it’s Monday. And while I will delete comments that offer no insight, or are rude to my readers, so far that’s been a grand total of 3-4. The rest, about me, I read and leave up simply for the possible lesson.

      But that’s me. On the flip side, I admire those who have the gumption to simply delete – it may take a level of certainty that I will never have.

  20. Why do so many people ignore the Golden Rule when cloaked in anonymity? As Thumper’s father once said, “If you can’t say something nice….don’t say nothing at all.” Even little Thumper has more class than the haters.

    1. @Laura, I understand the desire to voice one’s hostile comments anonymously, I’ve felt it myself. But I don’t act. Go Thumper, long may he reign:).

  21. I barely read Corporette anymore – it seems to be a sea of lawyers (not that there’s anything wrong with that) who aren’t aware that there are some offices where it would be against the company culture to show up in wool trousers and cashmere sweaters.

    I did a mental cheer when I saw you were guesting and that the focus would be on casual offices, because we exist too.

    The comments, sadly, didn’t surprise me, though it reminded me very quickly of the other reason I don’t read Corporette anymore.

    1. @Amanda, There is maybe a need for a blog that focuses on the casual office – were I 20 years younger I’d be on it in a flash.

  22. As is customary on Saturday mornings, you have answered an important question that has been rattling around in my head. Over the past month, my small-town newspaper has been “investigating” the financial woes of the community health center I direct. There is no story, which does not seem to matter to the paper. I am able to finesse the stories, but the comments are hurtful and awful. Knowing that people say snarky things about you too helps me get through.


    1. @Kate McIvor, I am sorry you’re going through this. The experience of public scorn – light though it may be here in blogland – has left me sadder but wiser. I hope your trials pass soon.

  23. 2 cents: If you try to write for everyone, you’ll be good for no one; I’d say stay true to who you are.
    And statistically, 2.5% of the general population is crazy. Always been, only now have an equal tool to express. If you look at all your comments, I bet those were precisely that percentage…

  24. Lisa, I don’t even know what to say, other than that I’m flabbergasted at how some people anonymously use the internet to vent their anger against undeserving bloggers. I know several other bloggers that have faced the same thing, and it just blows me away that people don’t have the personal integrity OR courage to sign their names to such diatribes.
    I think you’ve chosen the high-road in humour. But ignoring it is the best thing. And judicious use of the “delete” button!

    1. @Mamavalveeta03, If I could ignore it, I would. The strongest people I know do that, the top bloggers sorts like Penelope Trunk have advised me to do it, but I am not built that way so I’m working with what I’ve got:).

  25. I can’t think of a more insightful, and also lady-like response to the issue. The anonymity of the internet brings out a new sort of ugliness that societal norms and a simple recognition once kept at bay. Those who mind their manners, regardless of who sees and who does not are, I think, are more likely to fall in to your category of “try not to be a jerk”.

    I think it is fine to say, “I do not care for that jacket.”. It is altogether different to refer to someone’s hair as “scary” or “like a calico cat”. I just don’t get why people use anonymity as a license to be be cruel in their opinions.

    Keep up the the thoughtful and lovely posting please.

  26. Lisa: Let me state the obvious: there are all types of people in this world. Yet, you have decided to start a blog which exposes you to all those types. A blog is a public forum; not every comment is going to be something you like hearing. It takes a certain amount of confidence to begin a blog, to expose yourself to people you don’t know. Develop a thicker skin, if you haven’t already. There is a way to disagree which fosters conversation rather than confrontation. Those who are so offended that they can only confront always have the option of unsubscribing.

    1. @Angela Muller, Um, have you read the post above? How on earth would any human have a thicker skin than Lisa demonstrates by re-posting, accepting and learning from the very negative comments she’s received?!

    2. @Angela Muller, @Eleanorjane I think it could be said that I have a thin skin but a reasonable capacity to endure the scratches. So I’d love a thicker skin, but lacking that, I’m going to work on deep breathing. Thank you both.

  27. To me, a blog is an act of sharing. So, the consumer has a choice to consume or not. I may disagree with a blogger’s perspective and can engage in a discussion in the spirit of agreeing to disagree or in the spirit of having a conversation.

    But to write disparaging and disrespecting words…anonymously? Lord. No.

    No wonder Dr. Angelou said, “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

  28. Rude comments do not surprise me one bit. I have managed county commissioner (political) campaigns for my southern gentleman husband who is from the northern Shenandoah Valley. He insisted we always take the high road and not sling “dirt”. You would not believe the nastiness, vitriol and outrageous lies that came our way. Friends who supported him even got death threats. He is delighted to be retired now. The upside of this experience is that we have made many wonderful friends who know and support the truth. Yes, we proper East Coast southerners are happy and very much at home on the Colorado Eastern Plains.

  29. You are a far, far better person than I am. I would not be able to react to nasty comments with such equanimity. Nor is it easy to acknowledge the kernel of truth that might be embedded in a nasty comment and to learn something from it. I’ll try to follow your good example.

    1. @MJ, This is one of the primary lessons from blogging. I owe it in many ways to this community, which has given me such positive reinforcement for this approach. Thank you.

  30. I am a new reader – just a few hairs from 49, and then 50….recently relocated east from the lovely East Bay – and I just love your blog. It hits so many points for me. Negative comments don’t surprise me. But your willingness to look a bit more closely at your reaction is impressive. I’ll be sticking around….

  31. I too am flabbergasted (how I love that word) at the comments, and was when I moved over to your guest posts, although I did not post a comment. So much seemed off topic, I got lost, it is true.

    I think hateful comments are more about the commenter than you, although I don’t know you in person, I can’t imagine an intersection between your written voice and some of those comments.

    It is easier to appear graceful online. A glass of wine helps. I always cry. But I tend to be over-emotional, it is the one thing my parents could not successfully train me to overcome. I am lucky to be esoteric enough that I don’t attract a lot of haters, but I do know that they always make me see something differently, although I may keep that quite private. Still, I am sorry to see these things. Your thoughtfulness always comes through, and sometimes I think the world is blind.

    1. @Mardel, It is indeed easier to appear, and in fact to be, graceful online. And am trying to incorporate the grace into my real life. Mixed results:). I have such great hope for the world, seeing must be possible. I am glad your parents failed in your training.


  32. Lisa, I loved your response at Corporette. Humor is often the best way to both deflect and shine a light on the ridiculousness of some comments. I welcome constructive criticism, but like you will not abide commenters attacking each other, or broad swaths of humanity. One of the snarkiest comments I’ve ever received on my blog had so much truth in it, that it was like Loretta’s, (Cher’s character in Moonstruck) “snap out of it!” slap. Stinging but ultimately productive.

    1. @déjà pseu, Stinging but ultimately productive is exactly what I’m aiming for. Glad you liked my humor – it is maybe terribly Californian to use Ayauasca as sarcasm:).

  33. I don’t comment on many blogs, but especially appreciate your thoughtful perspective on style, aging, family, and anything you choose to write about. Please know that so many more people appreciate your writing beyond the frequent commenters. Thank you.

  34. Even in disagreement, your blog has always seemed polite and thoughtful. Those comments are neither. They also seem to share in common the thought that you are a concept, not a real person, that they need to measure themselves against and win. So I wouldn’t let the real person (that you actually are) be bothered by them.

  35. Lisa, your blog is one that I like to read because so many of your posts make me think, reconsider, and then revise my former thoughts. I’ve always maintained that nasty, snarky comments don’t deserve thoughtful attention, but you are right that not all ideas come wrapped in a pretty package. It takes a degree of introspection to see the value in a package that is mangled and disfigured. It would be nice if people could find a way to disagree without being jerks, but, until that time comes, I’ll try to remember that even jerks can sometimes offer up something of value. Thanks, Lisa.

  36. After reading your blog post title over at The Hostess’s blog, I had to come by and read it.
    I like the way you handle these commenters.
    I’ve experienced untrue and angry hate filled comments on the internet.
    My first reaction is always shuttering (and I will never reopen my house blog) my blogs when I get something really hateful. I need time to delete comments or my posts.
    Anger,differences of opinion, derision; that I can take, and don’t mind if people call me a hag.
    I wouldn’t even mind if they said my hair looks like a calico cat. What’s wrong with that? I love calico cats! lol
    Keep on Writing!

  37. It’s an interesting topic. I guess it depends on how people see blogs and the function of comments on blog posts. Is it a forum? is it a conversation? should politeness trump honesty?

    My own view is that courtesy and consideration for the blogger must be paramount when making a comment. If you can’t disagree with civility then don’t make a comment.

    What I find annoying is the kind of side swipe sneer(the refugee in Congo comment you mention above is a perfect example)which is not only nasty but irrelevant – as Faux Fuchsia would say: Look people this is not a blog about world peace.

    1. @Sue, I love Faux Fuchsia. Now there’s someone who carries on! I think honesty should trump politeness, but one can be honest and civil at the same time. It’s also true that bloggers can tolerate different levels of strife, and I think commenters can learn to respect that and vary their approach depending on where they comment.

  38. I am sorry I have never commented on your blog before, and that it is in this context that I first say hello. This post was very brave and touching and you are very gracious. I don’t know if that stems from your privilege, but I consider it my privilege to take comfort, and learn, from women like you.

    1. @Jaime, Very nice to meet you. Please don’t apologize for not commenting – your reading is more than enough. The privilege is mine. That word has turned out to have more implications than I expected:).

  39. Brava! You’ve posted a thoughtful response that resonates with those of us who cherish civility in public forums. But do be careful of the squirrels in the parks — some have fleas and some have rabies.

  40. Hi Lisa, I’m a long-time reader although I’ve not commented before and I wanted to start by saying how much I enjoy your smart and funny writing. I love the idea of blogs and the community of women who post in the little corner of the blogosphere I visit. To say I was appalled by the comments posted on Corporette is an understatement. Good manners apply in all venues. After two minutes looking through those I got out fast and would never return. If you create a blog you get to make the rules, hopefully, they will include an agreement on civil discourse. It’s gracious of you to attempt to learn from cruel comments but certainly not required. Blogs like yours are a place where I come to relax and I am grateful to you and others who are willing to put themselves out there with thoughtful content that encourages positive and supportive conversation. Please keep those haters at bay and above all do guard your privacy.

  41. Ha! Had a look at your guest posts the other day and was instantly reminded why Corporette does nothing for me. Commenters go off topic the moment their fingers hit the computer keys.

    As for the negativity – “let offal drift by” – as they teach in sales pitch training. I suspect that kind of judgmental attitude and moral high ground is the province of young persons, maybe even has to be, due for later recalibration.

    Although I doubt that such an attitude makes you a good staff member or colleague. And it’s surely not helpful when trying to win people for a worthy cause.

    Even I with all my leftist leanings, work for non profit organisations and the like, am now regarded by younger people as member of The Establishment. Having done my best as I knew how at the time I can take it. I’m sure so can you.

    1. @mademarian, “Although I doubt that such an attitude makes you a good staff member or colleague. And it’s surely not helpful when trying to win people for a worthy cause.” This is always the question – when to stand up and when to stay quiet – and has a scope far beyond my little blog.

  42. I admire your ability to be so gracious in response to all that rudeness, which seemed like bullying to me. And we think only kids do it.

    I love your blog and will always read it here, but not there.

  43. Lisa,
    Don’t pay any attention to the negative comments. If they don’t like what is written, they can just go to another site. The fact is they feel it is worthy enough to read and for some reason feel they have to share their negativity — their comments say more about their self-image than anything. We enjoy your blog and your visits to other blogs. Listen to us! Enough said…

  44. You are always so gracious in our comments, and I enjoy your blog immensely. Why people feel it is acceptable to behave in such a way is beyond me. I agree with the previous comment by Linda that it does seem like bullying to me. I’m thankful you keep your standards high, and yet give great freedom to individual opinions. I also greatly appreciate the mutual respect your readers display here, which is so much of what makes your blog so great!

  45. people say rude things online – and do things from the anonymity of their cars – because they can get away without feeling any personal repercussions. It’s cowardly, especially if they are being rude to someone who is generously giving of their creativity and expertise. It’s not like you are being a “jerk” in any way, or deserve to be treated harshly. Hate bloggers are not gracious, so it’s noble of you to try and hear what they are saying anyway and examine what you can learn from it. Thanks for being an example of the High Road…

    1. @Linda G., You have made me think of the old song, You take the high road and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye, which my mother used to sing me. It’s a nice moment. Back to the present, thank you very much.

  46. I agree with others who have said that hateful comments mean that you are being read and some people (behind the cloak of being anonymous) are extremely jealous.

    I know you know how many of us love reading whatever you write. While it doesn’t mean we always agree with you, there is always something to learn.

    Today’s post is an example of something to learn.

    Susan D., Dallas

  47. Have only sporadic internet connection, so briefly – Wow – I could never be a blogger and handle all of those kinds of comments. I admire the way you’ve handled it very much.

  48. I’ve been reading for a year and love your blog. It’s a great way to become a true global citizen as you can read blogs by people all over the world. Unfortunately, there are those who can’t help themselves but dump. Keep on going with your fabulousness. I know I am but one of the many from Australia who reads your blog. Den xxx

    1. @Den, So nice to meet you. I’m honored to have readers in Australia – you have so many great bloggers over there. Global citizenship is a real boon.

  49. Internet haters are just people who hate what they see when they look in the mirror, or into their soul, or both. I pity them greatly, then I just continue being awesome.

  50. dear lisa,

    keep on keeping on. you are sharing your opinions and insight + that takes a certain amount of bravery.

    i don’t understand the need for anonymous, negative comments. and therefore any argument along the lines of “you asked for it” doesn’t ring true. people can agree to disagree in a mature, thoughtful manner. and if you truly stand behind your criticism, you certainly should be able to attach your name to it!

    anonymous comments are, for me, the fast-track to irrelevancy.


  51. “Anxieties will keep pounding at the door if you sit on the other side, trying not to open up, they are much quieter up close.” Love this sentence!!

    As I get older I have realized that the remarks and criticisms that hurt me are because they link to some insecurity that I have. At the same time they are usually made because of some character flaw in the originator. So with compassion for both of us, I can try to sit with my feelings and learn about myself, and as you say, engage the anxiety.

    Easier said than done some days, but thank you for your wise example.

    1. @Northmoon, “So with compassion for both of us, I can try to sit with my feelings and learn about myself, and as you say, engage the anxiety.” Very well said. Thank you.

  52. Lisa, your reaction to the snark and hateful comments demonstrates your character admirably. I am grateful that you do guest post on Corprette because that is how I found this blog, your blog. I found most of the wonderful blogs I now read through this blog. Your insights and your way with words draws together a wonderful group of people. The comments here are typically also well written and thoughtful — far different ambiance than Corprette (which I seldom read anymore for that reason). It’s too bad because Kat seems like a lovely person. But the vitriol of “the hive” is neither uplifting nor insightful.

    Thank you for creating this virtual community.

    1. @TB, Thank you so much for participating, and for visiting the other blogs of the people who comment here. Kat is a lovely person, she has been very helpful and supportive to me. I do feel like the women at Corporette are often working in very stressful jobs, and so I tend to think maybe that mode of commenting is useful to many of them.

      In any case, I’ll go back, if Kat will have me:).

  53. As my teenage children say, “Haters gonna hate.”

    Although my prep school educated children think it’s fun to talk so crudely, the message, in fact, is a good one. There’s nothing we can do about the bad attitudes of others. Amen!

  54. I read your blog because no matter what the topic– flower borders, Bermuda shorts, or Thanksgiving place settings– you always manage to explore deeper feelings and observations with grace, perceptiveness, clarity, and exquisite writing. You have helped me understand my own feelings about aging, my grown children, money, body image, and identity, to name a few. Some of your blog posts stay with me for a long time. I was deeply touched by your description of your wedding flowers, the live stream photos of street scenes where your children live, and your husband’s gift of your children’s visit on Mother’s Day. This post will also linger in my mind, and helped me think about the momentary space of finding myself, my humor, and grace, before responding to anger. Thank you for sharing.

    1. @Carol, I need to copy and paste this to an image that I keep to pull out whenever I get discouraged. Thank you so, so much for allowing my writing to linger with you. Such a privilege, and such a nice thing for you to say.

  55. I would amend Principle #1 to read “… by accepting what you hear as Somebody’s Truth”.

    Except it is not always ‘truth”. Sometimes it’s a deliberate attempt to rile you, or the person is not in his or her right, sober or reflective mind.

    If I receive a random act of meanness, instead of a random act of kindness, I tell them that’s not fair or helpful to a dialog- and sometimes I just cross the street. Though you are wise to look behind the barb for the gift, I don’t think one need examine every comment for such boon.

  56. I try to separate the “truth” of a statement from whether or not it has something to teach me. Very Californian of me, in the grand tradition of assuming the universe is trying to teach me something;).

  57. I read this blog with interest and for pleasure. If I didn’t enjoy it, I would simply vote with my fingers and stop reading. I am always baffled by the hater aspect of the web but believe it is a function of the relative anonymity this discourse allows. The beauty of social media is that we get to control what we take in, so I am always puzzled by anyone’s need to render unfounded critiques or spew venom.

    Most definitely keep on keeping on.

  58. I am always amazed at how incredibly bitter and angry some commenters are – they can manufacture outrage at some pretty vague and random themes/items.
    The response they provoke is that I am just glad I am not them when reading.

    Mostly i admire grace in the face of such things. Which you exemplify.

    I lurk. So. Hey – how’s it going :D

    I am confused and amused by the calico cat thing though. That is/was truly bizarre.

    1. @Suz, So hey, hi! Glad to meet you. Thanks for saying hello, it is a motivation for me to keep working at grace. Calico cats – who can say!?!?!:)

  59. I try not to read comments on any sites I visit because I find them so upsetting. So many are just so full of trolls that it is a waste of time and energy.

    So why am I commenting? To say I love this post and I really am sad that the haters got you down. You have to pity them really. What sadness must lead them to behave like that?

  60. Ah, thank you. I’m OK. You guys are great, and really help me keep going. I do not know what leads people to need to say those things online – I agree, feeling sad for them makes sense.

  61. I’ve been reading your blog for a long, long time and comment very rarely as I am just not usually feeling the need to add my two cents. Your blog is one that I go back to repeatedly because you are a thoughtful, intelligent and interesting woman and I like the variety in your posts. Ignore the mean people. Take comfort in the fact that you have many friends here who have good manners and kind hearts. I admire your graceful and calm reaction to those who take pleasure in small-minded, petty attacks. Good Lord, they can’t even spell! They don’t deserve ANY reply from you, as far as I am concerned.

    1. I do take comfort from good manners, and especially kind hearts. Thank you, for this and for reading over the years.

  62. I found this post very interesting Lisa. That people leave these sort of comments intrigues me. I think it is all about them and how they are feeling and what is happening in their lives. They think that by insulting someone on line they might feel better. Also, I think, unfortunately, that getting hostile comments is a measure of success, a backhanded compliment if you like; it shows your blog and your online persona has touched a nerve or has made an impact. I would never leave an unpleasant comment on a blog but I do sometimes swear at other drivers, which I would never do outside the car, maybe there is a similar pathology going on? OH, and rude hand gestures too…Bxx

  63. I love your blog, Lisa. So there! And for the record, I read corporette, and I like Cat’s posts, but as for the commenters: I have learned from some of their suggestions, but many of them leave me cold because they don’t recognize how privileged they are. When they start debating how a too-small diamond engagement ring can damage your reputation at work, well, what can I say?

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