Friday, November 6, 2009

Behold the Power of Words


So I got my first snarky comment on this blog. I don’t count the one from the hermit crab lover who gently guided me to some resources on how to adequately care for hermit crabs after Molly’s crab died from neglect. She could have called me a killer, but she held it in rather graciously. I’m not going to write about the current state of our other crab, Smiley. He’s just molting, right?

The snarky comment came from someone named “Anonymous” who commented on my post about how men can’t find anything in the house. She said it, and my readers’ comments, helped explain why the divorce rate is so high. I don’t think she liked how I kindly and gently asked Tom to check his body’s orifices for the missing remote control, or something like that.

This got me thinking. When I started blogging, I had neither read a blog nor commented on one. I was “writing for myself.” Tom and my sister were my only readers. When people I didn’t know stumbled across the blog, then actually came back for more and started commenting—go Shana and Kate!—I was surprised and thrilled. The comment section became a way to make new friends and to reconnect with several dear friends I don’t see very often.

Now I want comments. I love comments. Does this serve my narcissistic side? Sure. But it also makes me feel as if my writing doesn’t just go into a vacuum. I feel connected to my readers, most of whom I’ve never met. Since I’ve started reading other blogs, and commenting on them, I’ve actually been writing less often. I have found myself drawn into a blogging community, and more of my time has gone to keeping up with other people’s writing. I don’t want to miss out.

But back to the snarkiness…Do you find it interesting that I read that comment 6 times in a row? That’s kind of like picking at a scab isn’t it? And I wasn’t even upset. And I don’t regret what I wrote about Tom at all. And I’m not too concerned about what “Anonymous” thinks of me.

Can you imagine how many times I would have read it if it had come from someone I knew and cared deeply about?

This just reminded me of the power of words. We tend to cling to the negative and let it penetrate deeply into our souls. We wrap it up and put it in our pocket. We pull it out when we are feeling insecure or vulnerable, unwrap it, and let the pain cut a little deeper.

What could seem like a passing remark can linger for years.

I hate to think of how I may have used words over the years carelessly and for sport. As a sister, a friend, and especially as a teacher. Every day we have a chance to build people up or break them down.
Just today at lunch with my friends I said more about someone than I should have. I’m going to take this as a reminder to watch my words, with my friends, my kids, and yes, even Tom, if he can get the remote out of his ass long enough to listen.


28 comments:

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El) said...

My blog is less read and less widely commented on than yours, but I too want (insert CRAVE comments). If I didn't like you so much, I'd be jealous of all the comments you get.

For a few days now, I've been trying to write a somewhat similar post about negativity. The basic idea--why does negativity reach deeper and stay around longer than the good stuff? Still working on compose that one...

Your blog is great fun. Now read that six times over, Missy!

Kristina P. said...

I think that anyone who says they don't like comments is lying. Of course we love to feel validated and important.

Em said...

A negative comment does have a lingering sting. Ouch for sure. I'll catch myself thinking about how I made some random person mad, think even longer if it's anonymous.

And then I think, why am I wasting my time!?

How many people had a good laugh from that post? I know I did.

Oh, and if Tom is still looking for that remote, you might want to check Anonymous' ass - sounds like something's lingering up hers.

Happy weekend!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

How bizarre... I thought that was such an innocent humor post. Guess you hit a nerve?

Sokphal said...

I just read Anonymous' comment. Someone does not know the meaning of a joke. I think you are pretty hilarious! I don't remember you being this funny when we were in HS (as in I was the student). Haha! I guess you weren't allowed to joke about asses and going to the gyno with your kids? :)

Beverly @ The Buzz said...

Of course, I had to go back and read Anonymous' comment, too. First, one would think they would have the guts (or other anatomy) to comment under their own name. I don't give much importance to comments from "anonymous". Second, I think it's from a guy. Any woman would see the tongue in cheek humor. And probably not just any guy--a sexually frustrated, still living with his mother nerd.

Christy said...

I have yet to receive a hate/negative comment on my blog, and I'm sure it will (unfortunately) sting me more than yours stung you (seems to be not at all - go you!). I went back and forth between allowing anonymous comments on my blog, but in the end decided I HAD to, since my family and friends who don't blog occasionally want to leave a comment, and couldn't if I didn't have the anonymous option. I hate to think who that anonymous person is who left you the rude comment. Things like that really get under my skin! Good for you for being tough about it, and I'm super impressed that you didn't immediately delete it, because I'm sure I would have. Ugh.

Courtney said...

lol...that last line is a zinger. You're right...words are so powerful...what a great reminder. Too bad someone reading your blog takes themselves so seriously.

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

If I could only keep my mouth shut, I'd sleep a lot better at night. Darn words!

That's why I like writing. I can filter myself better.

Momastery said...

anna,
what would i do without you? i came to your blog thirty seconds after reading my first mean comment on my blog. i was still sweating and angry. i guess i knew you'd be able to calm me down. and ya did, of course. thank you.
also, i love that you wrote that you are friend, sister, and teacher. i have a tattoo on my back that says sister, teacher, friend.
actually that's what i requested, but i didn't do my homework and was a little tipsy when i got to the tattoo parlour, so most likely it really says "wasted american idiot" in swahili or something. i don't ever want to know.
wow, talk about saying too much.
anyway, thank you anna.

Shana said...

not to verge off topic... but are you saying that the patriarch of the family *is not* supposed to hoard the remote up his ass? because I thought that's how everyone does it.

AnastasiaSpeaks said...

That's a very good reminder. I have to watch myself sometimes because my shoot-from-the-hip honesty and efforts at being genuine and real can sometimes translate in being hurtful without meaning to.

Words matter.

caren said...

I totally agree with Em.... Besides if you are going to comment about something have enough guts (or something else) to put your name on it.

So there.......lol

K a b l o o e y said...

OK, I just got back from scanning comments to find the one you're all talking about (and not the other anon. viagra ad) and I agree, that commenter definitely didn't see the humor in your post. And of course humor is a KEY ingredient in a good relationship (my own opinion; no double-blind studies consulted), so it makes sense that we who find this blog particularly funny wouldn't agree with the One Who Shall Not Be Named. But actually, I'm surprised at the gang-mentality and level of vitriol aimed at the OWSNBN by some readers who don't seem to have even read her/his comment. I've always found An Inch of Gray to have a gentle quality that made it clear the barbs have love behind them, but if someone misses this, they won't read for long, I'd imagine. Babbling now, but soldier on, Anna.

3 little and 2 big liks said...

miss anna...
i just went to my blog and found that you, a stranger to me, left such a thoughtful, one word comment for myself (& my friend). thank you. bless you for taking the time. it's amazing what a POSITIVE comment can do for the soul.

i'm adding you to 'my favs'! you're the sort of gal i want on my team. :)

3 little and 2 big liks said...

well, wouldn't ya know it??? you were ALREADY on MY TEAM!! :) i think i need to check out my sidebar more often. if i could add you twice, i would. :)

L said...

I just went back and read that comment, too. I am happy to count myself among those "like you" of whom she seems to so strongly disapprove. Thanks for sharing your/our reality with humor and grace.... and for continuing to be the funniest person I know!

Love you!

Heidi said...

I really loved that post and I am nowhere near getting a divorce.

mgheadley said...

I finally found the time to go dig up the snarky comment to figure out how someone could possibly misunderstand one of the sweetest people I know.

As a person who has suffered through the divorce of my parents, etc. I would like to assure you that discovering that your husband can only find the remote (or mortgage statement!) when it is up his ass is not a sure sign of marital trouble on the horizon.

When my husband sees a buxom woman clad in an inappropriately short skirt or high heels, he sometimes remarks... "There's my next wife!" A few misguided women have suggested he is a pig worthy of divorcing immediately. And, out of context, I suppose I would have to agree. But he is joking!!! and making fun of the other woman for dressing in a way that demeans herself. How do I know this? Because I listen to all the other caring and kind and loving things that he says to me and my daughters every day. For each "there's my next wife" joke, he has told me 500 times that I am the best, the only love of his life.

Perhaps the real reason for the high divorce rate is not that husbands and wives speak cruelly to each other from time to time, but that they dwell on occasional hasty comments & jokes rather than the thoughtful things they say & do consistently.

Mwa said...

I love comments, too. I think when you get a troll you've officially made it in blogland. So yay you!

zcan said...

My darling husband came into the baby's room last night as I was rocking her to sleep looking for the remote that he thought he left in her room. Of course he woke her up looking for it, which meant I had to stay in there another 15 minutes to calm her down. And he didn't even find the remote. After I finally got the baby down I looked on the floor by the rocker and saw the remote. Took me about 3 seconds to find it. But why even take it in there in the first place? We obviously don't have a TV in the baby's room. Trust me, I almost put it up his a** after that. Love you Anna!

Anonymous said...

Shoot. I am feeling guilty. First, for asking you to open your comments to anonymous commenters like me. And second, for also wondering if your handsome husband appreciated that post in my own anonymous, yet signed, comment. But I would never try to deliberately be snarky to you or hurt your feelings by way of a comment. I like you too much.

xo

jbhat

Brenda Susan said...

Great post! I agree the power of words is huge! Thanks for sharing yours with us!

Anonymous said...

Very useful topic

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