One of the rather frustrating things about blogging and subsequent comments made to any posts is the not infrequent disagreements that blow up. I am no shrinking violet, but the ferocity of some of the commentary on a post is shocking and often quite personal.
I used to visit a site called The Continuum (a 'continuing Anglican' blog) to find out what was going on in their world and its comment section was so full of bile that I stupidly felt the need to suggest that what was being posted was unacceptable and, as the particular comment I was replying to made appalling suggestions about fatherless priests and their need for prayers, I suggested that as what was said was nasty and untrue then the commenter should keep their prayers for themselves. Amazingly, my comment was blocked by the 'moderator' as impolite whilst other appalling trash was allowed to be spewed. The interesting thing is that he commented on his forum that he had blocked me for bad manners but then allowed a mass of vitriol to be pored on my head because of my Blog title. The things I am apparently in favour of is not believable and, as anyone will have gathered from my posts, I am a traditionalist when it comes to the doctrine of the Church.
The terrier in me wanted to hit back, but I found ignoring the site easy and I have never been back since.
I suppose the anonymity that the internet affords a person can make one feel uninhibited but that cannot be an excuse for some of what is 'said' by those who post. I don't doubt that people have strong views about any issues and when a Post comes up that touched upon a person's deeply held convictions, a reaction can be expected; my own concern is that the response should be both proportional and reflects what has actually been posted, rather than be a repost to a perceived slight or opinion (actually, it would also delight me if accuracy was part of the response, but that's a personal preference).
I have been a victim of this myself (and even, accidentally, a perpetrator, hence my concern for care) where a person has attacked me for what I have said (when I haven't) and even constantly quoting back what was actually said makes no difference to the furore caused by the perceived offence caused. Also, just as misery likes a companion, others rush to express an opinion and things get wilder and less connected to the original point that the Blogger was trying to make.
Now, some people love this and find it entertaining and liberating - sadly, I am not one of these. Perhaps I am too uptight but my mother always encourages her children to be polite and correct. She also says we shouldn't butt into a conversation, but that is the point of the comment section in the blogosphere and, whilst my Mum is great at most things, she does like to butt in herself as my sisters will wearily testify.
It isn't that I believe that people shouldn't comment, they should as this is the way that conversations begin, opinions are shared and news passed. Also, it ensures that corrections to inaccuracies in the original post (or subsequent comments) can be made. Also, people do not have to agree but everything should be done with good heart and be a response to what has actually been said.
For the Blogger, there is a need to be careful in what is posted to be sure it is not gratuitously offensive and that it is not the dissemination of false information...not easy in the latter case so mistakes will be made. In the former, good manners are easy.
I hear tell of trolls (which still bring bridges and Billy Goats Gruff to my mind) and they are just sad people with nothing better to do than to post inflammatory and nasty things. They are what they are - for the rest of us, let us be better at how we respond to others and lets not play 'Chinese whispers' as we could end up in a storm not entirely of our own making.