Blogging is weird.
I recently wrote a post about tattoos, and it went viral (at least on my website). In fact, at this point, it’s the second most-read blog I’ve ever written. I didn’t see that coming.
Sometimes I write something that I consider to be pretty good (of course, I’m biased), and I’m lucky if my wife and mom read it.
Other times I compose something fairly light-hearted and fun, and it goes crazy in the blogosphere. Go figure.
Regardless of what I write, you’d be surprised at how often I get an extremely mean comment or two (or 20). For some reason, people think they can get away with verbal bullying and downright rudeness on that thing called the interwebs.
Way too often, stuff that might get you punched in the face if you said it to someone within range of a fist gets verbally vomited onto the comment section of a blog or Facebook.
OK, so you don’t like what I said. Fine. You disagree. I get it. You don’t like what I wrote, and you probably don’t like me. I can deal with that reality.
However, are rude, unkind and mean words ever acceptable?
Even so, a woman screamed at me by using all caps and lots of exclamation points and wrote this comment about my tattoo blog: “TATTOOS DEFACE THE TEMPLE OF GOD! YOU ARE A LIBERAL COMPROMISER AND NOT A TRUE MAN OF GOD!!!!!!”
I wanted to respond, “Seriously? Do you wear makeup? Do you wear jewelry? Do you have pierced ears? Do you color your hair? Are you overweight? Just to be clear, that’s definitely not the way God made you, and perhaps those things deface the temple?”
However, I didn’t respond and I didn’t challenge her. I’m sure it wouldn’t have made a difference to someone acting like a modern-day Pharisee.
Without a doubt, we live in a culture in which we hear verbal ugliness all the time. Have you watched any political debates recently or listened to talk radio? But my momma (who might be the only one reading this right now) taught me this: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!
Here are some prudent words from another wise person: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)
Words can cut others to shreds, or words can heal.
I’m for healing.
So how should we respond to trolls (a term used to describe people who troll the web looking for a fight), bullies and modern-day Pharisees?
Four Ways to Respond Rather Than React
- Listen first. There might be something you and I can learn. Even non-constructive criticism can be helpful at times if we listen with a humble heart.
- Pray for the bully and respond with kindness. Be grace-filled and ask God to bless them. Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.”
- Refuse to over REACT! In fact, under-react. Only a fool is quick to quarrel. Adding my mean words to their mean words never ends well. Even if my response is kind and my explanation rational and reasonable, trolls love to fight, and they tend not to listen or care. Consequently, I often choose not to respond or to comment on their comment. It’s just butter! (A reference to this post).
- Ignore or delete the harsh, bad-mannered or unjust comments. If someone’s words were harmful to me, they’re probably damaging to others too. My website and my social media accounts are mine. I’m responsible for the content (what a concept), and if I don’t like something, I can delete it without shame. That’s not censorship; it’s boundary maintenance. I don’t limit the other person’s right to free speech, but I protect my own boundaries.
Ask any author or blogger—putting your stuff out there is risky. People can be ruthless, and civility is a disappearing art. I try to be as transparent and genuine as possible, but sometimes that bites me in the buttocks.
It’s OK. Life goes on. And maybe, just maybe, God uses the humble and often flawed words of this broken man to bring a bit of healing to others who are perfectly imperfect, just as I am.
So I write on.
Thanks for reading.
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