FYI (if you’re an Internet user)

September 05, 2013

This post is a reaction to this post:http://givenbreath.com/2013/09/03/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/. _“FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)” was written by a mother to teenage girls about the way they dress and present themselves online and how that is influencing boys. The following post is my reaction to the negative reactions this mother is receiving. _

Dear Internet Users, 

I have some information that might interest you. Last night, as I sometimes do, I sat at my deceased grandfather’s dingy, liquid-stained writing desk and read through a blog post, this one titled “FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)”.

I love reading blogs and reactions to blogs, and this one was trending all over my feed, so naturally, I ended up clicking the link, reading the blog, and scrolling to the seemingly endless list of your comments. Wow — you sure have a lot to say in defense of women and regarding sexism! Your anonymous, filigree avatars are so cute! This was brought to my attention when I realized just how many of you were commenting anonymously instead of uploading your own pictures. 


Here is a picture of the blog author’s boys. 

But I notice other things. For one, it appears that you don’t understand blogs. 

I get it — you’re sitting at home, bored as heck, and find yourself clicking on this same, over-shared link to discover what the hubbub is about and share what you think, right? But then I can’t help but notice the criticism, the condemnation, the published accusations of “you’re a prude” and a hypocrite and a bad mother and  “how dare you post your provocative pictures of your boys and say that girls should be the ones covering up.” I can’t help but notice that you have this attitude about yourselves that screams that you find your own opinion more valid than someone else’s. I can’t help but notice the anger, the mocking, the condescending, the tearing down. What’s up? None of you talk like this in real life to people, this I know.

So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize. If you choose to comment on a person’s personal blog with your opinion, then do realize that you are choosing to comment on a person’s personal blog. As in the unique place they’ve chosen to express their free speech and share themselves and the unique place you have also chosen to visit and read on your own accord.  

Please understand this, also: peoples’ opinions are valuable and they often contain good points, no matter how different they are — which is what makes your latest escapade into the world of “I know the truth and you do not” and “let’s shame and blame” so unfortunate. 

Those comments don’t reflect who you are! I think you are interesting and have important things to say, and are, likely, the type of human being that doesn’t walk into the corner Quick Stop without having the decency to say thank you to the cashier. But I had to cringe and wonder what you were trying to do. What point are you trying to prove? What end result could you possibly have devised from sharing your unabridged, scathing opinion in the comments of a complete stranger’s personal blog? 

And now — big bummer — I’m done enjoying commenting and debating with people like you. Because I realize that the reason why I want to comment on other peoples’ blogs (blogs that sometimes express an opinion contrary to my own) is that I care about civil, respectful conversations, conversations that we used to have in this country when we really valued tolerance and wanted to learn from and teach someone outside of ourselvesinstead of blame someone for nothing more than, when it comes right down to it, believing something that we don’t. Being someone we aren’t and thinking thoughts that are not our own. I don’t want to be the same kind of person you are anymore.

I know that your friends and family would not be thrilled if you were to take your masked Internet mouth and use it to tell them what you thought of them. Did you know that once you rip out some rude, some hypercritical comment, you figuratively stab it into someone’s mind and esteem until they can no longer un-hear it, get it out of their system? You don’t want to isolate yourself from other people and cause them to close off to you because they think of you as some know-it-all who only cares about being right instead of relating to them, do you? 

Neither do I.

And so, at my desk, there will be no more “discussions” with you, the strongly opinionated, fellow Internet users, the Internet users that I used to be like at one point because I thought I could see the whole elephant by blindly feeling its trunk. If you want to actually have an intelligent discussion with someone else, which is what I imagine you intend on doing by posting such smart-sounding comments, you’ll have to keep your ego silent and your debilitating lack of respect and amount of accusation out. If you try to be that person who only interacts with other human beings to tell them why they are wrong and to judge them based on a solitary opinion — even once — you will have no attention or respect from me.

I know that sounds babyish and, heaven forbid, intolerant, but that’s just the way it is under this roof for a while. I hope to one day be a responsible, respectful, and polite adult who is mature enough to conduct civil conversations with her peers, and a woman who doesn’t resort to acting like a monster on the Internet to get a point across. 

Every day I regret things I’ve said and regret that there are people like us who still feel like it is okay to belittle someone else with words. I hope we will be civil, having the kind of decency that doesn’t allow us to hide behind pseudonyms and avatars to cast judgement and condemn complete strangers. I don’t want to be that kind of a person anymore, because I’ve dealt with them. No one walks away feeling good about themselves in conversations with those people.

Share your opinions. Correct, if needs be, but never resort to attacking people for who they are. In writing this I realize that it’s all just one big loop, that in writing this to tell you to shape up I’m coming across as the same kind of person I’m telling you not to be. But you’re missing the point. Share yourself, don’t share your venom and anger. Don’t be mean. Don’t take out your lack of shared opinion on someone else who has lived a different life than you have.

You are growing into a headstrong adult, who will be hard to change. 

Act like an adult, speak like one, post like one.

This is as much for me as it is for you.


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