Over it! Why Anonymous Comments Are Meaningless, or Just Mean.

Via Michelle Marchildon
on Mar 11, 2013
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Heart Brain

Let me tell you what I really think about the anonymous internet comments that plague just about every writer these days.

I think they suck.

On the one hand, I admit, it’s pretty nice to hear that I have supported, encouraged and given voice to millions (okay, maybe just a hundred or so) of people around the world who are looking to do better on the mat, and in their lives. I mostly hear from those people privately on email.

Then there are the ones who tell me that I am “a caddy (sic) unyogic bitch who should not be allowed to teach yoga.” Well, just to clear this up, I do not carry my husband’s golf clubs. But I can be kind of a bitch and I’m definitely not yogic all the time. It’s a lifelong endeavor.

According to the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, a study showed “that comments with enough vitriol will actually cause people to change the opinion they had after reading a nuanced, balanced article.”

I am not quoting this Journal. I am quoting Time magazine’s Joel Stein, who quoted this journal, because he hates this stuff as much as I do. And because he writes as many nuanced, balanced articles as I do, which are practically none, we both get a lot of anonymous internet comments.

So when the first comment on my blog is typically “I hate this writer and everything she says and she is such a stupid, bad person, and definitely not yogic and also I hate the way she looks and she’s not even vegan and everyone knows you need to be vegan before you can write about yoga, and I read two other articles by her that I didn’t like either. But there was maybe one sentence in this story that was okay.” I tend to get really excited and say, “Thank you!”

So surprise, the comments actually do change people’s minds! In fact, most of my friends used to think I was brilliant and funny and insanely wise after reading my book, Finding More on the Mat. But now that I write for  elephant journal, they think I am just insane.

Girlfriend:            How do you deal with those comments?

Me:                       With Xanax and Vodka. But not together.

GF:                        I thought you were going to say meditation.

Me:                       I tried meditation. But my way is better.

To put the internet comments into perspective, let’s talk about my recent blog which a lot of people hated.

That blog generated about 3,500 reads. Out of 3,500 unique hits, 190 “likes” were recorded on Facebook. There were 64 comments, 20 of which were from people who were negative. So 20 negative commentators out of 3,500 reads is .0057 percent, which is not even one percent! I piss off way more people just going to the grocery store.

Right about now I can hear my editors’ huffing and puffing about the importance of the comments and how they build a unique and loving community which together we will learn and grow and change the world. To which I say, sure.

In the meantime, I am letting everyone know that I am taking a lesson from Mr. Stein and I will not be reading the comments from this blog. I already know I’m not yogic or perfect, and I also know that in some people’s opinions, at least 20 of them, that I will probably go to hell for writing a crap article.

Meanwhile, if you want me you can find me cleaning my husband’s golf clubs because you never know, they may be right. Perhaps I am just a caddy bitch after all.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel


About Michelle Marchildon

Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist, and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her second book, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, is for yoga teachers who want to inspire their students. Michelle is a columnist for elephant journal and Origin Magazine and a contributor to Teachasana, My Yoga Online and Yoga Journal. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches in Denver, Co where she is busy raising two boys, two dogs and one husband. You can follow her on Facebook at Michelle Marchildon, The Yogi Muse. You can find her blog and website at www.YogiMuse.com. And you can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com.


12 Responses to “Over it! Why Anonymous Comments Are Meaningless, or Just Mean.”

  1. Amy Cushing says:

    In case you read this Michelle, you are a talented writer and many of us readers (and other writers) appreciate you. Keep doing what you're doing!

  2. I enjoy your blogs Michelle because they are real and deal with things that really happen even to us yoga teachers. I have known some yoga ballerina's in my time teaching. I have also had to learn self acceptance and that even though I teach yoga I may never do some advanced poses. Yes, I can see the size of my thighs when I'm in down dog am coming to terms with the fact that the clock continuously moves forward (well except when we have to reset the damned thing). I read your blogs and am glad to hear that someone else sees this stuff and yet still come back to the mat (and the page) again and again. Thank you.

  3. paul says:

    There is nothing wrong with anonymous posting or comments, the problem is with vacuous ones (regardless of the name/person behind them) that only say "you horrible person!" with no articulation why. It is certainly not a problem that people change their opinion, but that they shift only emotionally and to be part of a group.

    Of the "negative" comments to her article, only three or four (at most) are of this type, the rest are critical of the author and what she wrote but try to give merit to their position. The article talks about "fighting back" and to "speak to others in the studio in an open and non-hostile way" but ends implying that only after the author's own passive-aggression did the offensive workmate leave (and nobody changed!); that people found her hypocrisy notable and unhelpful is a good thing.

    Perhaps by making (female) hostility in the workplace the locus of the piece (rather than the personal narrative), a discussion about hostility rather than the author's own fumblings would have followed.

  4. Rob G says:

    You're not vegan?

  5. Michelle says:

    YOU UNYOGIC BITCH of a teacher! I LOVE YOU! 😉

    I love every real down to earth piece of your writing. You inspire me that yoga can be what I want it to be and not some serving of vegan and esoteric yoga philosophy.

  6. Michelle Marchildon says:

    I am interrupting your comments to say that the real Joel Stein has just reached out to me on Twitter. OMG! Now you can go back to your regularly scheduled commenting, except for Paul. I think he might want to try yoga. https://twitter.com/Michelle_Muse

  7. Jennifer says:

    your philosophy and writings have helped me feel sane in a currently insane yoga world – thank you again!

  8. Sean Haleen says:

    This is a non anonymous comment.

    I've enjoyed some of your articles. Others not so much. I found the last one particularly annoying because I think you lost a great opportunity to discuss an important topic by obscuring it with your own issues toward a new teacher.

    You know there will always be haters but if a good deal of people are commenting (anonymously or not) who take issue with a piece you write, the problem is not the commenters or their anonymity, but its your writing.

    You're not infallible. Nor is anyone else. I believe because you clearly pissed a lot of people off with your last piece, you again have missed an opportunity to set an example. Instead of writing a piece taking responsibility, apologizing, and explaining why you wrote your last article, you instead write one that basically reads "I don't really care if you're offended, I'll keep writing and stop listening to my readers."

    And I know you'll read this. You care too much not to.

  9. You are hilarious, Michelle. Honesty will ruffle feathers. Period.Carry on with your awesome writing. Cheers!

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