Sunday, June 19, 2022

Book Bloggers: Do you believe what you write to be true? Then don't delete comments that challenge you. (And I mean that encouragingly.)

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.

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  1. Hmmm ....... a very excellent post and one that few people would make, so brava you! I've been waiting a few days to see if anyone else would comment but the feed is interestingly silent. People just don't like to talk about difficult topics. Perhaps we think if we deny unpleasant topics, therefore they don't exist.

    Your post made me laugh at first. I just found a comment on my old blog where the commentor disagreed with my review of the book (Harriet Jacobs). Perhaps disagreed is not the correct word but instead, had a different opinion. I really loved reading their views and approved the comment right away. Not only did it give a different perspective but if I read the book again, the comment may help me enjoy the book more. I wasn't offended at all. It was simply a different opinion.

    I cannot believe how unable people are to have a respectful discussion about anything controversial and how angry people become if you dare to have a different opinion than theirs. I believe it's like you mentioned ..... many people's opinions are formed from popular media; because they have not done the work to form their own opinions themselves (this is done through months or years or decades of discussion, reading, debate, etc.) and have only just grabbed onto what is popular, intrinsically they feel that their opinions are tenuous and they are uncomfortable if they have to defend them. Therefore, they can respond like an attacked animal.

    I agree that when we publish reviews or opinions publicly, we open ourselves up to people challenging our views and/or disagreeing with us. It shouldn't be something negative, rather something that both parties learn and benefit from as long as, as you say, it is done in a respectful manner. In fact, I wish that people would go more in-depth with comments.

    In any case, thanks for the post on a topic that most people would shy away from!

    1. Hey, Cleo, thanks. I don't expect much feedback bc I don't have much traffic. I'm pretty much talking to myself. LOL!

      But you make a good point: denying unpleasant topics is like sticking our head in the sand. We like everything soft and comfortable and familiar.

      I think we are from a different generation that was a little tougher. We welcomed different opinions bc we were raised with the idea that everyone is entitled to his own opinion but it didn't change our own. Now that idea is gone. You either agree or shut up.

      And respectful discussions -- its more like no discussion at all. Yeah, that could be true, too, that to have to form supporting evidence for a thought you borrowed from somewhere else is embarrassing. Too much work to figure out. But that part where we get so angry and explode bc you cannot form your own opinion, or you are challenged to come up with evidence is beyond my understanding. Why are we do angry?

      Once a man became outraged at me bc I dare disagree with his issue on marriage in the Bible. He wasn't even content to just say, "Well, I disagree and here is why..." He didn't even reply to my comment. Instead he updated his post and violently remarked that he would absolutely delete anyone who disagreed. How boring to have nothing but affirmations and no one challenging you ever.

      And great point: when we publicly post our opinions on blogs, we are inviting conversation, including that which is opposing (which is great conversation!). It should always be respectful. The important thing to remember is that while it is possible we change our minds, it may be that we never change our minds, and that is ok. At least we HEAR each other and acknowledge that there are other opinions.

      One last thing: do you think that some deletion of comments instead of discussing differences may be that we desire others to affirm us so that we must avoid opposition? Or is it pride that we harbor and dislike anyone challenging our views or opinions? It means we are not worthy in someone else's eyes if they disagree w/ our views. I just wonder if it is the affirmation we desire/for other's to like us and approve our way of thinking. Or maybe we just hate being wrong and, like you said, erase opposition so that it no longer exists. I wonder...

      Thanks for commenting! ; P

    2. Oh, one other thing: regarding the last paragraph...I was thinking about how in the past, when someone corrected me or contradicted my opinion, my first reaction was to protect my pride, but then immediately I admired that person for having the courage to differ w/ me AND say something about it. It was something I wished to have - courage to speak up. And I learned that that person did not dislike me or hate me, but rather, they just felt like sharing a different view. It takes maturity to get over ourselves and listen to what others think. Again, it is why I think it may have to do with a desire to be affirmed or else! Sounds like a sin of pride to me.

  2. I think on the surface it can be pride, or more accurately an inflated sense of pride. However why are people so quick to jump down other's throats and be so touchy? If one is prideful there can be an arrogance and a certain amount of self-centered confidence. But I don't sense that with many people.

    God is inside each one of us and I think when we stray from what is Truth and try to push our own truth, we feel inside ourselves that it isn't right even though we try to ignore that feeling. So to make our truth feel right, we try harder and harder to BE right and are offended and angry if someone doesn't accept our truth. So even though people seem to be angry with others who try to discuss or challenge their ideas, they are really fighting against their own inner voice and the effect is that they can feel inadequate. Does that make sense?

    I was laughing (yes, again) today as I was reading Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Both Aristotle and Hesiod appeared to back you up:

    "That's why you already have to have been pointed in the right direction by good habits, if you hope to get very much out of a course of lectures on what's honourable and right, or any other moral or political question. Because our starting point is the fact that X, and if X seem pretty obvious, that's all we need. We won't need to talk about why X is the case.

    People like that with the right upbringing either already have, or can easily grasp, the right principles. If neither of those applies to you .... well, Hesiod says it best:

    'Best of them all is a man
             who relies on his own understanding.
    Next best, someone who knows
             how to take good advice when he hears it.
    So, if you're clueless yourself,
             and unwilling to listen to others,
    taking to heart what they say ---
    then, sorry, you're pretty much hopeless.' "

    Lol! Odd how these things pop up just when you need them!

    1. I love when that happens -- when things "pop up" when you need them. Great quote! I think the Bible says (my rewording) a wise man knows how to take correction but a fool rejects it. And while a different opinion or contradiction is not necessarily correction, it is still similar bc sometimes it is good advice / something to consider.

      Speaking of anger: wait to you see what transpires now in America. (In fact, abortion was probably part of the trigger that caused said blogger to delete my tweet. It is such a personal topic that people have stopped listening to each other anymore. No one TALKS about it. They just shout, curse, scream, and threaten death. They won't even listen to the legal argument of the Constitution, which is the reason why our SCOTUS ruled the way they did.)

  3. Sorry I'm late to the party - Many folks, especially the younger generation have lost the ability to have civil just get cancelled or worse. . . scorned, ridiculed and assaulted! Americans prefer politics over people these days. In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt declared that those who refuse to engage in healthy civil discourse are only encouraging the eventual collapse of the nation: I'll leave you with his words instead or mine. "In a republic to be successful we must learn to combine intensity of conviction with a broad tolerance of difference of conviction. Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth. Bitter internecine hatreds, based on such differences, are signs not of earnestness of belief but of that fanaticism which, whether religious or anti-religious, democratic or anti-democratic, is itself but a manifestation of the gloomy bigotry which has been the chief factor in the downfall of so many, many nations."

    1. Love it!! Thanks for the quote. I'm adding it to my commonplace book!

    2. You're not late. And that's the question: WHY have any generation today resorted to screaming so they can't hear you instead of wanting you to hear their argument? Know what I mean??? They don't even want to talk about what they believe, let alone be quiet long enough to hear someone else's side. It's crazy.

      And great quote, too. Fanaticism! That is a good point.

  4. Hello! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog at Impressions in Ink.
    I've been blogging since 2007, only a few times can I remember comments that were rude. I approved them anyway but wondered what I could have responded that would settle things. Sometimes the right thing is to respond. Sometimes the right thing to do is don't respond (which in a way is a response). Making the decision is the hard part. I have friends who don't agree with me at every point: religion, politics, type of books to read, etc. I still love them. They are my dear friends.
    Enjoy your week!

    1. This is a good point, too: permitting the comment to remain public and not responding is a response in itself. That is another option, especially if the comments were rude and arrogant. When commenters are kind and cordial, bloggers may still not want to respond, which is fine, but deleting it doesn't make sense. And it is very common with younger generations. They don't want to discuss differences. ??? I wish they would.

  5. Do you have a place on your blog where I can sign up to get an email when you have a new post?

    1. Regretfully, I do not have a way to get emails for new posts. Blogger changed things and there does not seem to be that option anymore. There used to be, but since I returned to Blogger, they removed that feature. What I do for blogs that I want to visit is keep a blogroll on the sidebar and it updates for me when those bloggers post something new. Don't know if you have that on your blog, but if you do, that's an option.


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