***I couldn't bring myself to post something without pictures, so be aware these pictures have nothing to do with the subject matter.***
The other night on the phone my mom made a comment about the last blog that I wrote.
"I liked the blog about Jacob's best week ever," she said kindly.
Then she laughed. "But, what's with no one commenting? You asked a question and nothing! No comments!"
I laughed back at her, trying to hide my mild disappointment over the fact that regardless of blogging for almost four years now, I have yet to sustain a consistent following of "commenters."
While posing philosophical and somewhat personal questions is totally in line with my sometimes random personality, I never really wanted to do that on my blog - it all felt a little forced. But it was the only way I could think of to get the engagement I so desire. I hoped to lure readers in with pretty pictures, engage them with a question at the end and voila!, I'd turn this blog into more than just an outlet for me, but a place where conversation might flow like red wine.
But that hasn't happened either, evident time and time again:
"If a fire was about to burn your house down, what would you take with you?"
"What are YOU up to this weekend?"
"Tell me what your best week ever would look like?"
Then there's my "real job" where as an occasional writer for CNN.com, there is never a shortage of comments on any story, most of which address the specific news story.
A couple of weeks ago, one of the site's page editors approached me after hearing about my "reputation" as a professional wedding guest and asked if I'd write about cost-saving techniques for anyone attending a wedding this summer.
The story was fun to write, and a lighthearted, easy read; let me be clear, I'm not winning any Pulitzer Prizes or breaking any journalism barriers with the piece, but I was proud of it. It resonated with readers, too, and gained a lot of web traffic for CNN.com.
With web traffic inevitably comes comments - a reality that is both exciting and terrifying. One on hand, "Yah! Finally the engagement I was seeking?!" On the other hand, "This story is so innocuous, what could anyone possibly have to say about saving money when attending a wedding?"
As it turns out, people had plenty to say.
Some of the comments were certainly flattering and downright hilarious:
Stephanie Gallman, will you marry me?
Her personality shines through her writing.
You strike me as a person that actually might use the phrase "YOLO" and mean it (my personal favorite, though I'm not sure it was a compliment).
Most of the comments, though, were unexpectedly hateful.
SHE is a fool is she had to attend 74 weddings. I don't even have 74 FB friends. stop trying to be center of attention.
I find women who brag about how many weddings they attend nauseating. Its the mid-life equivalent of the grade school popularity content. Yes, we are all duly impressed by how many friends you have. Good job.
In every picture she looks like a POS.
Ms. Gallman needs to 1) Get a life, 2) Get a less expensive hobby, 3) Grow up, since using her wedding attendance experience as proxy living is unhealthy.
How do crappy, meaningless articles like this get written??
There are more. Many more.
As if wanting to prove that all of these awful words about me were true, I read every. single. one. I even pathetically responded to some of them. A stupid rookie writer move, really, especially because of what I already know:
I know that anyone incensed this much by any article, much less this one, speaks far more about them than it does me.
I know better than to read any of the comments, much less all of them; the comment section is always where the Internet trolls prey, hiding behind cartoon avatars and fake names, bullying people for no reason.
I know that my family and friends (the people who love me) are what's most important - and to get caught up in anything else is vain and a colossal waste of time and energy.
But as I learned all too well -- when people attack you on a personal level - it doesn't really matter what you know. It just hurts.
I guess I should be more careful what I wish for. I'd never beg for a blog comment again if it meant I didn't have to read someone who doesn't know me call me a "POS, attention seeker who needs to get a life."
When did everyone become so cavalier to attack each other online? Why not just think mean, hateful things about me to yourself or bad-mouth me to your friends behind my back? Can't we go back to that?
Some of my favorite bloggers, Glennon, Kelle, and Ashley have addressed some of the criticism/meanness/bullying they've faced as writers. Though they've written far more graciously than I probably ever could, their feelings seem to be consistent with mine and all seem to share a confusion over why anyone would waste their time writing hateful things about others.
I'm all about constructive criticism, and I understand that as a writer, the only message I can control is the one I'm sending - how it's interpreted once it hits the screen is completely out of my hands - and it's scary.
I'm happy to have conversations where we all agree to disagree, I'm comfortable being wrong and being called out about it, and I hope that perhaps one day my writing will inspire such discussion, but being mean just for the sake of being mean, well, in the words of my favorite Internet sensation Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that."
Be kind, Stay strong, Choose love, my friends.