Today I made the decision to remove comments on my blog. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the spoons to deal with moderation, and the reality is that not moderating is not an option. Even if there weren’t people out there who are still very angry about some of the satirical posts and editorial stances I took in 2015, there’s spam.
I also increasingly find myself agreeing with the critiques of internet culture and (the sub-culture of internet celebrity) such as Tauriq Moosa, that open-ended “engagement” is not worth the price it extracts on the engaged. When I feel up for engagement and invigorated by engagement, I am active on multiple social media platforms. When I don’t, I’m not.
Having open comments on my blog is like leaving the door to my living room open so that anyone can wander in and talk not just to me but anyone I’m entertaining, whereas being on social media is more like me going out into the world to hang out with people.
There’s a meme that goes around in the circles that feel entitled to use my living room or your living room or anyone’s living room as their own personal symposium and lecture hall that this kind of move is anti-free speech, that it’s hypocritical for someone to say they’re interested in starting a conversation or having a dialogue if they do not allow comments. I can blow this out of the water in one easy step.
Actually, I already have.
See how I mentioned Tauriq Moosa’s commentary on internet engagement?
That’s me, responding to Tauriq Moosa’s commentary on internet engagement. No comment section necessary.
And then in the paragraph that starts “There’s a meme…”, I also responded to his critics.
And if any of them—or anyone else—wants to write a response to me, they have their own space to do it in. Oh, I probably won’t see it, but that’s okay. When people debate, they’re not trying to convince each other, but the audience. Formal debates don’t end when one party cedes the point to the other, thoroughly persuaded.
The thing is that even when comments at this blog at their best and I’m at my best, I don’t think having comments turned on here does a lot for me. Back in the glory days of Sad Puppies Review Books, I would make a thing and then spend all day refreshing, watching my site stats and reading the new comments, and responding to them. That’s positive engagement, but it didn’t really bring me anything more positive than a short-lived endorphin buzz. That’s not what I’m here for.
Once you reach a certain level of profile you can’t really have a comment section and not pay attention to it, but I don’t see the gains from paying attention to it as being worth it. I mean, my goal includes writing things that people like, things that resonate with people, that make people laugh, that people enjoy. But that’s not money in the bank, and at the end of the day, it’s not even real, lasting satisfaction.
I like feedback. At a certain level, I think I need feedback. But the way the web works now, those things can come to me from points further “downstream” (crossposts and the like), where they’re not happening on my turf and it’s easier to keep some emotional distance and perspective.