Home > Blogging, Safety > Your comment, meet my trash can

Your comment, meet my trash can

Most comments on my blog are lovely: thoughtful, eloquent, empathetic. They’re so overwhelmingly lovely that it surprises me when I see the other kind, which I deposit directly in the trash.

What I consider “the other kind” expands beyond clear hate speech, generally falling into one or more of a handful of categories I call:

The Four Deadly P’s

  • Promoting: This kind of comment includes a variation of the words “nice post” (e.g., “great post,” “good post,” “neat post”) followed by a hyperlink back to the commenter’s blog. Visitors leaving this kind of comment either don’t understand or don’t care that the best way to earn visitors is by genuinely engaging with others in their own spaces.
  • Parenting: Many commenters here have kids who have flown the coop and whose parenthood rings beautifully through their words. These comments rock my socks off. The kind of parent-style comment that doesn’t see the light of day here is the kind my mom would’ve left on my blog were I thirteen and she technoligically inclined: “This is why you’re wrong, honey, and this–in eighteen bulleted steps–is what you need to do to be a good girl again.” I had one mom. I will only ever have one mom. I am in the market for zero more moms, and zero patronizing moral sermons on how I could be a “good girl” in anyone else’s eyes.
  • Proselytizing: I love knowing what inspires commenters and why it inspires them. That’s not proselytizing, but sharing the goodness that lights their hearts. I dig it. For me, proselytizing is in the shift from “I do” to “you should/must/need to/will-be-damned-eternally-if-you-don’t” do this or that thing. I do not, did not, and will not sign up to be a node on someone’s convert-the-disbelievers tour, whether around subjects of faith, books, diets, politics or any other source of human disagreement under the sun. I support folks’ right to proselytize … on their blogs, not mine.
  • Pretending omniscience: I’m married to a Black man. Until he first talked to me about race when I was pregnant with our older son, I genuinely believed racism was a relic of bygone times. My eyes opened gradually to signs of implicit and overt bias through the early years of our relationship, until I was between jobs shortly after protests erupted nationwide after Mike Brown’s killing in Ferguson and my accelerated learning began. For two months, I barely slept as I read through at least tens of of thousands of words and watched–literally, frame by frame–more than a dozen brown-skinned people be killed in the act of complying with police requests. I saw that police officers are seldom charged and virtually never indicted for even the most indefensible killings, and finally understood both how vastly I misunderstood the world today and how destructive is unrecognized implicit bias in myriad lower stake circumstances. I saw better that all injustice is interrelated, and also that a great many people are deeply invested in not only believing but forcing others to acknowledge that their own way to experience the world is the only experience of the world. They haven’t personally experienced racism, therefore it doesn’t exist! They haven’t personally experienced sexism, therefore it doesn’t exist! I’d seen shades of this reflected before my education via Ferguson and even wrote a lighthearted 2013 post trying to highlight for people how freakin’ ridiculous it sounds to say, “Because I haven’t lived it, you’re imagining it!” After my two months of poring through countless such ill informed comments, I’m out. This behavior is no longer funny to me now that I see it for the mechanism of achieving control it actually is. I explicitly, wholly, and completely reject any and all comments that tell others how they’d be experiencing life if only they were a little less black less woman less differently configured “more enlightened.” Ask questions if you like and are willing to listen, but take that less-enlightened crap elsewhere. Goodness knows there’s room abundant for it elsewhere on the internet!

If you’d like your comments to be at one with my trash can, correct more, ask less. But if you’d like your comments to stand, as I’d prefer to let them, then ask more, correct less.

If you’re affronted by my approach, I don’t apologize. I don’t care if you think I’m a bitch. I encourage you to note the vastness of the internet and mosey elsewhere,

wishing you well while simultaneously and wholly rejecting the notion that my blog must be your unfiltered sounding board.

  1. March 19, 2016 at 5:05 am

    Admittedly, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to visit magnificent, moving blogs like yours, Deborah… but it’s a difficult road right now.
    Still, I’ll drop by when i can for mental nourishment and friendship on a whole other level.

    • March 19, 2016 at 5:09 am

      I’m having a hard time reading all the blogs I love right now, as well. I’m able to read maybe only 15-20 minutes a day right now, which leaves me missing folks … but, man, even those 15-20 minutes are crucial for me. If I go too long reading no blogs, I feel an ache of missing: the hearts, the minds, the perspectives. I smile every time I see your name and send so many more (and more kinds of) well wishes than I can express. Big, big hugs.

      • March 19, 2016 at 5:51 am

        Your hugs warm my frozen Canadian heart, Deborah.

  2. 1jaded1
    March 19, 2016 at 5:20 am

    Even thought I should know better, it still boggles my mind that these space invaders are so brazen…I don’t know if brazen is even the right word.

    • March 19, 2016 at 5:27 am

      “Brazen” feels like the perfect word to me! I trash so few comments that it didn’t seem necessary to write a post like this until a recent conversation with a friend, where I ended up saying something like, “It isn’t my obligation to educate you on this. You are not entitled to my time, energy, or explanation.” (I wasn’t saying it to be cruel, but to illuminate the problem with the friend expecting me to carve out a huge chunk of my time to elucidate an unrelated dilemma … because I have a blog, and isn’t that what I do?!) The moment I said those words, I felt their rightness. I knew a comment post would be forthcoming, with the premise of I-am-not-obligated/you-are-not-entitled. It’s a self-preserving thing in this world of constant noise.

  3. Paul
    March 19, 2016 at 5:26 am

    It’s safer to not comment. But I do usually enjoy reading.

    • March 19, 2016 at 5:28 am

      It’s good to see you, Paul, and I’m glad to see you commenting this morning. How goes?

      • Paul
        March 19, 2016 at 5:38 am

        Not bad Deborah – it seems that I’ll be moving to Vancouver in about 8 weeks, so that is exciting. I hope all is well with you and your family. Love the stories about your son growing up. It always bent my soul whenever I read of your daily commute – is it still hours of your day? Not that I would mind the driving itself, it would just be the fact that I would miss the family so and would look forward to getting home. That said, we all do what we have to do to make it work. Please give my regards to your family and may health and prosperity be with you and yours.

        • March 19, 2016 at 5:44 am

          Oooh! I spent a couple of days in Vancouver–en route to researching orca–many years ago and loved it there. I hope many good things await you!

          My commute’s still long, but it’s a little less long. I enjoy the drives I share with Littler, who has so many more words now than a few months ago! He shrieks in joy whenever we see trucks, too, so those squeals make the drive even better than do the words, not that I mind his identifying specific truck types based on the truck music videos he’s been watching. :p

          Thank you so much for the well wishes. I hope your move and settling in to your new home go well.

  4. March 19, 2016 at 5:26 am

    I don’t get a lot of the types of comments you describe, mostly because I avoid controversy religiously as being impolitic out of experience with its futility. I do occasionally get “here’s how you could have written that better” comments, which I have typically thrown away, accompanied my the melodious sounds of me cursing the authors of said comments.

    On the subject of injustice: do you think courts make it better or worse?

    • March 19, 2016 at 5:40 am

      My first two experiences with the courts left me wary of them. In the one case, I wanted and was going to testify that I didn’t want my dad to have any custody whatsoever of my siblings and me. Forced to actually explain this directly in front of my dad, who was weeping dramatically in front of me, I said that maybe shared custody wouldn’t be such a bad thing, setting in motion visits I didn’t want to have. That left me wary of the courts.

      In the other case, as a child testifying against the pedophile, the prosecutor’s instruction, the defense attorney, and my entire experience of the judicial system left me completely disenchanted. Sometimes I marvel that I chose to go to law school, but I wanted to be a part of changing that.

      The injustices I have seen the courts work since have been staggering.

      Some of what I’ve read since make me feel like courts were a well intended thing that have done little good to those deserving of that good, typically favoring instead those with the greatest resources. Grand juries are virtually useless (see: “indicting ham sandwiches”) and juries and judges themselves riddled with problems applying increasingly, often confusingly nuanced principles to real life.

      While I would still like to believe courts could still get things right, experience doesn’t show it. In fact, I recently read about the entire Orange County DA’s office being precluded from prosecuting a case because of rampant misconduct. I thought of our good friend impacted by the OC prosecutors’ decisions and wondered what the outcome would have been had our justice system been a little more … well, just.

      What inspires the question? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

      (I chuckled at your “cursing” bit, by the way. I almost included a “policing others” comment, thinking of an incident where someone corrected another someone’s grammar, but that’s a standalone so far!)

      • March 19, 2016 at 6:01 am

        My own experience has been a mishmash; good people trying to do good, many places, but hampered by the professional magicians populating the system whose job it is to make people think they didn’t see what they saw, or vice-versa. I’ve seen people driven mad pursuing justice from an indifferent system, though; and I often think of the poor old plaintiffs in “Bleak House”, warning young people to do anything but trust their fates to courts.

        And, as you said, a common mistake is thinking the actual world must be identical to the small part of it we’ve experienced. Since you are in the field, I was curious as to what you’d seen.

  5. Deb
    March 19, 2016 at 5:59 am

    Do you see cycles whereby things roll along as expected with your readers and those who know your blogging style and story just commenting in the way we would all expect and then BAM, all the undesirables pop up and converge? Perhaps that happens more on social media than in this arena, but wherever it occurs it can really mess up your day. I hope I’ve never crossed the boundary on any of the “P’s”…parenting is a possibility…but I try to rein myself in with my own kids so I sincerely hope that I’m managing the same towards my blogging friends as well 🙂

    • March 19, 2016 at 6:33 am

      You’ve never crossed any boundaries, nor come close! I love how parenting wisdom tints what a person says and how, but I occasionally get comments–such as one yesterday–where the commenter mistakenly perceives me for their own child whom they must chide toward “proper” behavior. (Well intentioned words, wrong target.)

      Part of why I stuck with my mom through the worst of things was how she shone at the best of things: seeing that each of my siblings were different people with different strength and different … erm, “coaching” needs. The reason she kept me was that she knew she had to release me in particular (not just a generic human being) for me to keep coming back.

      Very, very few have crossed these boundaries here, though it seems in retrospect that I didn’t realize they were boundaries until they’d been crossed! Those boundaries can sometimes be hard to see, I suppose. 😉

      I haven’t held it against anyone, that being the case, save the one person early on who ignored thoughtful content to actively antagonize me over how I then referred to Anthony. I trashed her comment and blocked her from submitting future comments. I’ve blocked a couple of other people, without hard feelings, but it’s been a long time since most folks commenting the last few years see any given post as part of a whole instead of my conclusive, definitive standalone take on a particular matter.

      There have been a few posts that really brought out the undesirable comments! My Woody Allen one comes to mind. A bunch of people came to his defense, when my post was explicitly not about did he/didn’t he so much as: Can you, the reader, accept the possibility he could have? Too many people assume the creative, artistic, intelligent, well spoken people around them just couldn’t do terrible things, when indeed, predators’ apparent goodness is their camouflage. The one I wrote called “I believe you” invoked some passionate responses, but not the kind that go into the trash. There’s a lot of history, emotion, and stuff to mull through there, so I expect emotional responses about how I’m, say, possibly vilifying men even when I say something like “I’d rather focus less on castigating him and more on healing you.” Still, they’re good food for thought, but not nearly attack-y.

      Being Freshly Pressed is great because it leads both writer and reader to expand community, but it’s less great because it also brings the trolls. I was honestly a wee bit nervous when “Dear Mom” was about to be Freshly Pressed because I assumed even that would be subject to trolling, but … no. Thankfully, in that case, I got all the sweetness of dialogue with bunches of thoughtful folks with none of the trolls. Phew! But the thought of being Freshly Pressed again makes me feel more anxious than excited because, whoa. Trolls demanding to be fed, whenever and wherever they land!

    • March 26, 2016 at 7:35 am

      Okay, so, my “Musical breadcrumbs” post was Freshly Pressed a couple days after I wrote this comment. So far, there’ve been no trolling comments … but I did get one semi-spam one yesterday, and just now another saying exclusively: “Follow [myblogname]! :)” Aaaaand: TRASH CAN! 🙂

      • Deb
        March 26, 2016 at 9:02 am

        I have to wonder about the lives that people lead when it seems that all they have to do is creep around on the internet looking for blogs and other such things to be horrid on, or simply self-promote their own opinions or issues. I sometimes think exploring this entire historical trend of ‘trolling’ would have made for a great Sociology capstone…:)

  6. March 19, 2016 at 6:49 am


  7. March 19, 2016 at 7:25 am

    I can’t imagine you getting a negative comment so I appreciated this piece of fiction. 🙂 On the other hand, I know how people do, so I’m sorry for what prompted you to write about this. Commenting is one of the few times I try extra hard to be respectful and tone down the narcissism. To me, it’s about showing appreciation, especially to someone like you who has important things to say.

    • March 22, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      LOL @ your first sentence! I can tell you what I get sounds way, way milder than some of the comments I’ve read about. I can’t believe some of the stuff people put out there under the veil of (sometimes comparative) anonymity.

      Thank you not only for the LOLs but for the thoughtfulness reflected between them.

  8. March 19, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Yes yes yes!!! I’m glad I’m not the only one going through this, yet sad for you…and the
    @$$hat$ that do it. I have been the butt of jokes in comments, and harassed, having to report someone from one of my posts. Thank you for speaking up/out/loud n’ proud.

    • March 22, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      Ach, I’m sad to hear you’re going through this! (May the harassers find better use of their time in the immediate future.)

      • March 22, 2016 at 7:58 pm

        I’m sure they have found other ways to use their time. I sent one person a VERY motherly scolding filled with old school guilt.

  9. March 19, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Your rules are different from mine… I’m not sure we can be friends. 😉

  10. March 19, 2016 at 9:20 am

    May I say I am SO SORRY that my immature teenage-pre-coffee self placed a curse word in my comment. Usually when I feel emotionally invested I like, then return to comment while my large-take-charge self reigns in my desire to spew expletives. I didn’t realize how much your post had struck that chord in me. Please forgive me?!?

    • March 22, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      No forgiveness required, because cursing doesn’t usually bug me unless it’s tied up with other behaviors, like threats or antagonizing. By itself, I’ll just say that more colorful stuff comes out of my mouth the more tired I am, which is a lot these last couple of weeks. *cough*

      • March 22, 2016 at 7:59 pm

        Thank you 💜 so glad to be one of your minions! 😜

  11. March 19, 2016 at 11:53 am

    It’s good to know what comments can offend others. I have commented on someone’s blog and placed my blog name, not really for promoting myself but an innocent comment on who I was. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • March 22, 2016 at 7:02 pm

      I don’t think mentioning your blog’s name is bad, or mentioning specific posts that are relevant, if provided with context for the sharing/explanation for why it’s relevant. It really is just the ones that are counted as three words, one of which is actually a URL, that go straight to my trash bin. 🙂

  12. March 19, 2016 at 11:56 am

    If you ever read comments on Facebook, unfortunately there are the offensive ones that are made without any grace or tact. I’m happy to say I have t had a negative comment yet and I probably will be upset if I get one. I wish you only positive uplifting comments!😊

    • March 22, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      It’s exactly those comments that led me away from Facebook, an “away” that’s been quite delightful! I don’t mind disagreement in principle, but when it gets into the realm where force/control is being exerted through words, that’s where it gets sketchy for me.

  13. March 19, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Sometimes I wonder about the people who are sooooo sure not only that their way is the right way, but that there way is the ONLY way. Are they that confident (and dogmatic) in their physical life? Or is being cyber dogmatic a boost to their ego? I think that the only ground which is firmly set beneath my feet is that cruelty is wrong. For the rest I am ready to learn. And change where necessary.

  14. March 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    I used to have a frequent commenter who would tell me I was contributing to my child’s future unwellness by taking her to “western” doctors, getting tubes in her ears (instead of giving her herbs, natural remedies) and her future health problems were all my fault because…Western Medicine. How dare I!

    My blog is pretty tiny so I don’t get a whole lot of comments from anyone other than fellow parents who are generally nothing but supportive. I would imagine the wider the audience, the more interesting the comments!

    • March 24, 2016 at 4:45 am

      Gah @ those medicine comments! The comments that finally pushed me to leave FB were over my medical choices, so that really hits a nerve.

      Your second paragraph addresses one of the key reasons I won’t be sad if none of my posts ever go viral. Right now, I have a rate of one trashable comment maybe two or three times a year (outside being Freshly Pressed/featured on Discover), which is frankly a pretty decent rate. That’s a pretty OK rate to me. 🙂

  15. March 20, 2016 at 4:48 am

    First off, nice blog, it reminds me of mine at http://www.i‘mtotallykidding.com. Second, as a mom, I think you need to, third, find God, and finally, I’m married to a Mexican man. (Please don’t put me in the trash)

    Nah, In all seriousness, I’ve found most comments to be kind and encouraging, even if the commenter disagreed with me on certain issues. But, like you, I’ve dealt with a small handful with a touch of the delete button. Some things just shouldn’t be written here. I feel ya!

    • March 20, 2016 at 5:11 am

      Oh, man, but this made me LOL!

      (I try responding to comments in order, but I wanted to comment here with the giggles still warm. Hee.)

  16. March 20, 2016 at 8:08 am


  17. March 20, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I always look forward to your sharing moments. They make me think, dare me to explore, encourage me to live. Not to get all wishy washy on you but keep ’em coming! Happy Sunday!

    • March 24, 2016 at 4:47 am

      Thank you so much for reading, and for your kind words, which gave me a great and welcome boost this early Thursday morning! I hope the day’s kind to you. ♥

  18. March 20, 2016 at 9:34 am

    ❤ ❤ ❤

    I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I have sent scurrying off to the hinderlands recently.

    ❤ ❤ ❤

  19. March 20, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    “Bitches” are more interesting, more fun, and we get shit done. Trash all the trash!

    • March 24, 2016 at 4:51 am

      I remember Adele saying once that losing weight will never be a goal of hers (unless it impacted her sex life, which she couldn’t then envision). I feel that way about not being perceived as a bitch. In a world so full of opinions and entitlements, spending my time and energy there would be … well, a great waste of a life! I’ll take it this way. 🙂

  20. March 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Horrible that some of your comments stray into those four categories!

  21. March 21, 2016 at 5:28 am

    Wow, just wow. I can’t tell if this is in reponse to someone who didn’t get their comment published or just general frustration. I’m totally in agreement though and have tried my hardest to raise my daughter in a way that lets her form her own opinions based on true and unbiased fact of the world that I hope my wife and I are giving her. She is adopted, and not white, which has caused quite a lot of “Oh, “this” is your daughter?” when out with one of her friends and “She doesn’t really look like either of you.” It’s sad to me that in 2016, there are so many clinging onto the past and causing pain, hate, anger, etc. This reminded me of a conversation I had over the weekend with my parents about politics; the moment I realized that my parents weren’t as open minded as me, I removed myself from the conversation becuase I don’t need that kind of negativity. I’m sure they picked up on my distance, but kept going none the less…… just sad.

  22. March 21, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    “I encourage you to note the vastness of the internet and mosey elsewhere…”

    You’ve made my day with that line. Thank you. With your permission I might even change the word “internet” to “world.” I think this could be a workable mantra for my daily life, as well.

  23. March 21, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    You express yourself clearly and keep it coming! Because the web provides front row seats to the world’s stage, we can no longer pretend we don’t know of blatant racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia…discrimination and bigotry in every form. We ALL know examples whether we’ve been directly affected or not. It’s important to me to advocate for others when there’s abuse of power or privilege or just plain old rudeness, but I still struggle with boldness. I will say that my awareness was heightened BIG TIME when my bi-racial grandchildren were born. Suddenly I heard the subtle comments and veiled remarks very loudly, and I sadly and ashamedly admit I didn’t speak up for others nearly as ferociously as I have for them. You frequently challenge me to be bolder, Deborah, and I appreciate that. And I also agree with you on another point–we only need ONE mother. LOL!

  24. March 21, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    I’m glad I don’t get the kind of comments you and other bloggers get. Some of it’s just downright nasty

  25. March 22, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Nice post (insert link here) ;-P Just kidding. I don’t blame you. I don’t discuss a lot of controversial topics so I get to avoid a lot of the self-righteous asshats out there, but you are 100% in the right. You have the right to narrate what comments stay and which go and that doesn’t at all make you bitch, it makes you a human being hoping to share reality and truth and all the things people are too politically correct to talk about.

  26. March 22, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Woohoo! Get it sister! I love this post. You’re absolutely right. I’m sharing it.

  27. March 22, 2016 at 10:50 am

    I’ll admit that I tend to avoid writing anything that might be too personal. Partly because I know that some of my relatives read my blog, so I always admire how you can write what you want to. So please do just delete those comments, or even delete those followers, and keep writing!

  28. March 22, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    LOL! I totally agree, and feel very fortunate that I’m very seldom called upon to censor any of my blog comments (and I think my blog is dying a nice organic death right now!) but it does make me wonder how many of my comments have met your trash can! 🙂 I’m probably guilty of a good portion of the items on the list!! 😀

  29. March 22, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Yes….yes…and yes…..and might I add “followers that follow” and leave totally illogical comments because they haven’t really read your post, but are looking for you to read and comment on theirs. Where you get the time and energy to write, read and comment as much (and as often!) as you do, Deborah, I’ll never know, but I appreciate you as a reader and writer. 🙂

  30. March 23, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Omg, I love this post so much!

  31. March 25, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    One thing I’ve grown increasingly tired of is the righteousness of so many people commenting on, well, anything. It’s amazing how many people just wholly discount any opinion other than their own. Not surprisingly, most of those people support Trump…

  32. March 27, 2016 at 11:17 am

    I’m impressed when I read good writing like this by writers who speak their minds conscientiously, advocating for one’s blog space, freedom, and right to manage it while connecting with a reader like me. Thank you for sharing. I am inspired to find my own courage to voice what is worth voicing for me on my own blog. It’s a challenge and it’s worth it. ❤ Thank you for inspiring me across the internet – I say that partly with a chuckle, because you referred to the vast internet, and gladly it is – also, that I mean to say that I'm glad we met despite its vastness, and any probabilities otherwise where our universes would not have intersected. xx Ka

  33. April 11, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    The most recent straight-to-trash comment I got on CaaBP was from a dude named Wilson, who wanted me to know that 1) “you people are nuts!”, and also 2) I was the reason people are voting for Donald Trump.

    Because I could not help myself, I checked out Wilson’s own site, where I found this gem-like answer to the eternal question “Why have a blog?”: “Hot dogs that’s why, and feminism.” Srsly, I love this. That’s, like, AT LEAST FIFTY PERCENT in line with why I have a blog too!

    Perhaps even a little more, some days.

  1. March 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm
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