The other day I read a blog post written by a book blogger regarding one of my favorite dystopian novels, and the writer said something that prompted me to comment. There is no reason to quote what was said or name the blog because they are not important. The reason for my writing is to point out something that I find too common and very disappointing, though very telling about our culture and society.
If someone disagreed with you or dared to own a different viewpoint than yourself, and that person civilly and well meaningly commented on your blog in reference to a statement or opinion you made about a book, why on earth would you delete the comment? And furthermore, why would you NOT respond to the one who engaged you?
You keep a blog publicly because you want to share your opinions and thoughts, I assume. You want to connect and make conversation with others who also read and are interested in books -- maybe even the same books. But do you only invite others who agree with you to read and comment? At least make that clear ahead of time that you do not appreciate or tolerate different opinions or opposition, and that those comments will be deleted.
I know of one blogger who informed and threatened readers within the post that they would delete comments by anyone who mentioned this particular individual by name. And of course I commented that I didn't care if they deleted my comment because I still felt compelled to share my opinion. Granted, I brought that on myself because I was forewarned. But my goodness, how protective and defensive we have become as a society.
While it has only happened a few times that I have been deleted because a blogger disliked my comment, the sad truth is that I know of more times when I said, "Just forget it!" and decided against commenting altogether because I suspected it would not go over well if I said what I thought or even asked a question to better understand why someone thinks the way that they do.
I do not want to start a confrontation, which is why I take time to carefully word my thoughts and am always civil and kind. I am more surprised that a blogger would delete a civil comment. Why not dialogue about what you believe; make your case, and win me over. Why not make use of your platform and promote your ideas further with someone who is engaging you? Why do they always have to agree with you?
This is part of what is troubling to me: that today people are less likely to debate, dialogue, and have civil discord about their opposing opinions, worldview, and differences. They are more likely to immediately censor, cancel, and delete your comment.
Some irony: this particular blogger had read and blogged about my other favorite dystopian novels by Orwell, in which I totally disagreed with [their] synopsis, but I restrained myself. The blogger did not see the irony in [their] own behavior, to delete my little comment, to shut out a different viewpoint, and yet to be equally incensed by the tyranny and totalitarianism demonstrated in the books [they] just reviewed. Yikes!
I once had a very civil conversation with someone who completely disagreed with me on my religious opinion within a post I had published on my blog, and he began with a very hostile tone. Nonetheless, I knew that to engage him kindly would win him over. We had a discussion, and when it ended, he was much calmer, and I was able to get him to see some truth in what I had said; he didn't change his mind, but his mind opened more.
There was another blogger who always shared her opinions with me, of which I am so grateful. She was engaging and inspiring. She once apologized for soapboxing on my blog, explaining that it was my personal blog and she had no businesses being so opinionated toward my writing; and all I could think was: this is why I write publicly. I invite conversation with those who agree or not. If I wanted to protect and shelter my opinionated ego, I would have kept my blog private.
And here is the other part of my concern: you cannot argue for the protection of democracy -- a rule of the majority -- and then demand that the majority obey the minority; and you cannot cling to democracy if you are going to chop off the fingers of those who do not think the same thoughts or speak the same words as the minority. Democracy, if we must, is rule of the majority, and under American Democracy, particularly, we provide for protection of the minority. To provide for the protection of the minority, we must have, protect, and defend free speech. MUST! Speech must be protected because there will be different opinions and ideas, and they should be open to debate, acceptance, or rejection.
Now, of course, you are not forced to listen to one's opposing view or opinion if you disagree and do not want to hear. You are not even forced to defend your own ideas. But how can you not defend your views or worldview, especially if you demand others think, speak, tolerate, accept, and obey your opinion??? If you cannot stand to have a civil discussion - even about democracy and especially truth - then you are demonstrating weakness, and your worldview is equally weak. You show that you cannot stand up for what you believe in. You have no argument. It's not a good look.
If you have a blog -- any kind of blog -- and you write your opinions publicly for all to read, then you should be steadfast in what you write as true and solid. If you are challenged because a reader comments against your judgment, and you do not want to defend your words, then maybe you do not know what you are talking about. Maybe you don't even believe it to be true yourself. That is ultimately what you convey to others when you refuse to respond to someone's questions about what you wrote or to answer for your opinions. And when you delete civil comments altogether, well, then obviously you have absolutely nothing to offer.
Books are a great opportunity to talk about the ideas we hold true, and a civil and engaging discussion is the best way to exercise those ideas, to see if we agree, or maybe to even change our mind. The free exchange of ideas is liberating and freeing. If the best retort you have is to hit the delete button on your keyboard, then I am very sorry for you.
* * *