Two Things to do before leaving a Critical Comment on Elephant.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Oct 3, 2013
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1. Let’s all try and offer one positive, appreciative, or thoughtful comment or opinion for every criticism or complaint. Together, we can create a fun, constructive comment environment.

2. Don’t see something you want to see more of? Contribute it. We’re reader-created.

Most of our comments, and our readership generally, are kind, positive, thoughtful and appreciative. I’m proud of this community we’ve all created together. It’s full of love. But we can do better. Criticism of any article is (more than) welcome, if it’s constructive: our mission is to create a forum for meaningful dialogue among those who may not otherwise connect. Only rarely do we have to delete the kinds of comments that are so common on other sites—ad hominem personal attacks, and the (dis)like.

And yet, still, there’s a thread through many of the critiques, even the thoughtful ones I agree with heartily (like Irene’s, below): a thread that reflects the us-them culture of conventional media. elephant is not other. We are you. We are not corporate-owned. We are reader-written. We’re grassroots-created. Community-driven.

This recent comment has six “likes.” It’s about a great article (that got dozens of likes and shares, to be fair) by Chelsea Roff featuring a photo of a curvy African-American woman:

Irene XXXX: This woman is from a Dove pro-aging ad and has nothing to do with yoga. Could Elephant Journal not find a real picture of someone who actually has a yoga practice who is not thin and young? You can do it EJ, there are real women to chose from who do yoga and are all shapes and sizes. Maybe those of us who love Elephant Journal can respectfully request to include more pictures in articles of a diverse range of sizes and ethnicity. I for one would be so grateful.

Elephant Yoga: We’re reader-created. So send some in, instead of merely complaining! We’re with you. And I’d like to point out this reader-chosen image fits your criteria, and yet, yes, your comment has six upvotes. This side of the fence, given that we’re one community, can feel thankless. Have you left thankful comments before or our readers or editors?

Have you contributed? You’re more than cordially invited to do so. We are you.

Finally, I must add that I glanced at Irene’s page, as she did ours, and while ours has an endless diversity of images, hers had six public images: every one of them a beautiful illustration of thin, tall, white women (some in mermaid form).

And so we throw stones in glass houses, aiming at others because it’s easier than aiming at our own hearts.

Yours in the Vision of Enlightened Society,

Waylon Lewis


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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


12 Responses to “Two Things to do before leaving a Critical Comment on Elephant.”

  1. DaveTelf says:

    OMG elej is so biased towards positivity and "enlightenment." (gag) WTF can't we all just be assholes whenever we want and without consequence? Leave me alone while I berate you publicly. Freedom of speech, brah! I'm free to say that whatever you say is stupid and I don't have to give any reason or contribute anything constructive if I don't want to, especially not when you respond with such reasonable and gentle requests. Hipster…


  2. racterry says:

    Yes! It is baffling to read some of the complaints and inappropriate attacks directed at writers especially when they are contributing these articles with the intention to help. Louis CK says there is no way he would say the rude and insulting words he yells at other drivers when he's on the road, if he was in an elevator instead. The same applies to public forums! 🙂

  3. flamingrainbowwoman says:

    "Suppose we were able to share meanings freely, without a
    compulsive urge to impose our view or conform to those of
    others, and without distortion and self-deception. Would
    this not constitute a real revolution in culture?" –David Joseph Bohm, quantum physicist,
    Unfolding Meaning

  4. Brett Young says:

    Hey there, I post thankful comments pretty frequently AND I'd really like to see you stop posting links to that terrible video of what's her face from playboy on Facebook. Maybe we can strike a deal?

  5. Erica says:

    Bravah Waylon! May we all be free from suffering and the cause of suffering. EJ is my oasis.

  6. Erica says:

    Dave, why are you even reading EJ if you dislike it so? Just wondering…

  7. Auki says:

    Actually the comments on ej are exceptionally tame compared to most websites. Most of the time the comments on ej are predictably over the top in positivity & sunnyness ~ which can give the appearance that an "in-group" is stroking each other's egos and unwilling to think deeply & critically about real issues.

    I'm all for loving kindness, but "nice patterns" are a thinly veiled cover for codependency. How about we think deeply & critically together & focus on holding a mature rational dialogue on yoga & spirituality ~ devoid of attacks on persons or groups of people?

  8. Sarah says:

    This is a sly attempt to get people to write for free. The comments are tame because this site is too terrified of real criticism.

  9. I absolutely love this. Every word you said is true, valid and right on. However, I think some people just like to complain, and throw stones from glass house—and you're right about the reason why.
    Scroll through my pages of articles and I'd dare anyone to not easily find something that I share that's raw, uncomfortable and alternately fragile and confident—being the real me—and yet I'm still always surprised at the amount of anger and violence that opening up and sharing can breed from readers.
    Why are people so angry? There's a fundamental clutching to inner hostility that poisons the individual and then every other interaction that individual has with the world around, and while I like to explore those uncomfortable emotions (as do many others who choose to submit to ej), some much prefer to feign perfection—which is easy to do when you're always playing the victim and pointing the finger.

  10. BrightBlue says:

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to ask that those who read also are constructive in making things even better. Like it? Cool, maybe you have ideas for more . Don't? Ok, give constructive feedback and contribute to making a better article. elephant, here is walking the talk and asking you to do the same: participate mindfully in community. Yes, you have the freedom to NOT do this, of course. None of this takes away your freedom to be an ass. It is an invitation that we might not be used to: come in and participate; don't sit outside the door and whine.

  11. Padma Kadag says:

    "Yours in the Vision of Enlightened Society"??? Then Bright Blue says, "participate mindfully in community" or "come in and participate; don't sit outside the door and whine." Oh wait, am I complaining? Shall I support the Infomercials which constitute the business as usual "blogs"? Shall I get in line and misquote the Buddha or better yet just make up things as I go along and give the Buddha credit? As for my self, I am critical of the "buddhist" articles which appear because they deserve to be challenged as is the tradition. You have non-teachers of buddhism writing articles about buddhism. So when they will comment.

  12. Ziggy3339 says:

    Thank you for writing this today. It is perfect for me, you see. I'm a bit of a visual person who enjoys looking at all people. Healthy people here and wellness. If someone also poses for a soap ad that doesn't bother me at all. It's just a nice photo, in my opinion. The other day I came here & watched a video (may have been you, Waylon) where someone just ate raw kayle. I'd never seen that before. I've put it in drinks to smash around the blender…I've cooked it down until it's soft….but never have I just eaten it raw. This week I will. I never know where I'm going to get my next wonderful idea. Today I got acceptance, gratitude and the reminder to eat kayle – RAW. (just to see)