Emancipating Myself From Acute Comment Anxiety

There’s a scene halfway through Some Kind of Wonderful where Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) tells her best friend Keith (Eric Stolz) that perhaps they shouldn’t hang out any more. Keith’s pursuit of the popular Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) is driving Watts crazy.

She says “I’d rather have you not see me and think good things about me than have you see me and hate me. Because I can’t afford to have you hate me, Keith. The only things I care about in this life are me, my drums, and you.”

This morning I woke up to zero comments on my Bead Snowflake post. Turning on your computer to zero comments is like standing in front of a bemused Simon Cowell. He shakes his head sadly: “You can’t be serious. That was bloody awful.”

I’ve been thinking for some time about turning off comments. I talked to Marie about it back in September, as a way to make sure that you’re blogging for the “right” reasons, and she pointed out that turning off comments can seem snobbish, as if you don’t care what anyone else has to say.

Well, the truth is, I care too much. Oh, not about what others think, exactly. In fact, I like nothing more than a well-thought-out disagreement. (See the great comments on Bloggy Prostitution or Kids and Cars).

But the comments, or lack thereof. It matters too much, and I hate that it affects how I feel about myself AT ALL. Even encouraging comments mean too much.

Every time I see her, my grandma tells me how much she enjoys my blog. I’m so “unexpected,” she says. (I think Grandma is a bit sheltered, in a good way).

If I can make Grandma happy, what care I for sponsors and trackbacks and followers?

Still. My visceral response to zero comments (or, on days when NOTHING would appease the insatiable comment monster, NOT ENOUGH comments): It’s something I can stomach no longer.

(I’ve tried less drastic remedies. Reaffirmation mantras like “I am a worthwhile human being whether people comment or not” and the Neti Pot. (Not really on the mantras and the Neti Pot was great for my sinuses.) But I did set up a protocol in GMAIL where my comment notification emails bypass my inbox and get quarantined in the WAM Comment folder. Didn’t help. Much. Except I can now check my email without facing my neuroses. Most of the time. And ol’ Sitemeter? We parted ways months ago.)

I’d rather have you not read me and not comment than have you read me and not comment. Or something like that. Really I’d love it if you read and commented and came to sponge my fevered brow while the dinner made itself and the dishwasher deigned to actually CLEANSE THE DISHES when I push Start.

This may be a short experiment; who knows? Blogging is great for the freedom to make a complete idiot of yourself and then make as many corrections as necessary in trying to get it right. I do know that one of my favorite things about NaBloPoMo was that I was too busy thinking about what to write that day to worry if “enough” people liked what I’d written the day before.

As always, I welcome your emails (whataboutmom@gmail.com), and I cannot thank each of you enough for the kind words you’ve sent my way. I’m just afraid that if I end up in a mental institution for Acute Comment Anxiety, I might not get the serious drugs such a condition would require.

Would the doctor even believe that Acute Comment Anxiety exists?

If she’s also a blogger, I’m willing to bet she would.

Jane

How NOT to respond to comments ***Updated***

I’ve been reading Jonathan Fields | Awake at the Wheel for a couple of months now. He’s a pretty interesting guy for a pro-blogger type. My favorite post of his so far was about taking his kid to the hospital and living in the moment, because it transcended the cliche, which, really, is what all good writing aspires to.

He’s got an interesting post today called: Should Your 14 Year Old Be On Facebook, to which I left a way-insightful comment, and I got this email reply:

Just a quick note to thank you for leaving your first comment on my blog, Jonathan Fields | Awake At The Wheel.

Feel free to stop back anytime, e-mail me any questions and, if you’ve enjoyed the blog, why not subscribe for free updates? Here’s the link:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/JonathanFields

Have a great day!

Jonathan

How sweet. He responded. So quickly. And, come to think of it, I do have a few questions for the veteran blogger, so I drafted an email response. I asked if he knew what percent of people subscribe after getting one of these comment-follow-up emails, and if he really “follows” all the people he follows on Twitter.

I suspect there must be a secret super-blogger Twitter filter for sifting out the feeds you actually want to pay attention to (while appearing as if you are gracious enough to follow everyone who follows you).

In my email, I was torn between my readerly-disdain for automated replies to comments, and my bloggerly-interest in GETTING! NEW! READERS! THE EASY WAY!

The only other blogger I’ve gotten an automated comment-response email from was Jordan @ MommaBlogga, and she just had a baby, so I didn’t harass her about it. Plus she has explained tricky WordPress thingies to me, so I love her, even though she sent me an automated response after we totally email-bonded over the tricky WordPress thingies (not to mention my participation in her group writing project, but, really, I still love her).

I hesitated before sending my email to Jonathan (can I call you Jonathan?), worrying that I sounded too snarky, and — What if his email wasn’t automated? What if he really does follow my twittering? What if he’s deeply offended by my not feeling his sincerity about wanting to be my friend and get emails from me?

Well, I got both the answer to some of my questions and absolution for my snarkiness, in under a minute:

Internet Smarm = We’re agin’ it!

***Updated*** Holy Real-Time Internet Non-Smarminess: THE Jonathan Fields just responded to my email, NOT AUTOMATED, and can I just say that I am his loyal follower for EVER now.