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I was recently dropped by a person I met in real life. This person actually wrote a post about how people were not commenting to the entries in this person's journal. In the original draft of this rant, it ended with a "fuck you" to the people who weren't replying. Later, the expletive was deleted, but the general angst remained.

I wrote a reply to the post, which I actually wanted to keep for myself for when I will inevitably come to the realization that I'm doing what this person is doing. It's a bookmark reminder which is why I'm posting this here, not really so much for any comments or replies. Of course, you're welcome to do so, if you have any other ideas about the topic.

So, if you want to talk about journal comments, click on the link below.


Re: Passive-Aggressive

I really feel you have captured the reason for the issue in the title of this post. But let me make a few points.

I think it's pretty presumptuous of anyone to claim to know why people do or don't interact with each other, either in "real life" or here on Live Journal. And in this case, to think that the reason is because of "a problem" of a particular nature across the board is probably not entirely accurate. So, I am compelled to make the following statement here, my final one since you have chosen to drop me from your list.

I can't speak specifically on why you are not getting the sort of response you would hope for across the board. I will speak about my interaction with you and my interaction on LJ generally.

There are various personality types that use LJ. And you need to understand which one you are dealing with at any given time to have a more encompassing view of whom you are dealing with if you want to have an understanding of why they do what they do.

Here's my thing. I have a pretty large list of people that I deal with on a regular basis. And I try to comment where I feel I can contribute something to the post, be it humorous, helpful or hopeful. I personally don't comment to every post I see, and I wouldn't want people to do that for my posts.

The reason I don't reply to anything you say is because there is nothing for me to say to you. I have no comment to make. Usually you make a statement of some sort, justify it with a following comment and sum it all up. Well, that's pretty well self-contained, isn't it?

Now, if you want to get a lot of replies to your entries, there are some simple ways of doing that.

1. Interact with your audience. Give them something to work with, ask a question, do an opinion poll. Engage them.

2. Make it (a bit more) about them. People like the opportunity to share things about themselves (that's why we're all here, kinda sorta). So if it's a little less self-focused, you are more likely to get a response.

3. Criticize less, praise more. People don't want to interact with someone who spoonfeeds vinegar all the time. Mix that up a bit.

4. Don't always be the expert. It's great to win, but sometimes there's victory in losing. Easing up is a great way to allow interaction. Everyone doesn't like debate, especially when they're winding down from their jobs, or whatever is happening in their lives.

5. Don't assume (as Felix Unger famously stated). Why are people not talking to you? And why do people drop you? You seem to believe that everyone has the same agenda and same reasons and reasoning for this. I'm not quite as certain. I mean, maybe it's true, but maybe you're not allowing anyone a chance to be themselves. Maybe if you trusted your audience and didn't screen everything that gets posted to your journal, you would have better results.

6. Offer subjects that can be commented upon. I understand you've been through a very unique experience in your life, and that you even have a journal that relates to that. I think that's great, but you have to remember that most people have not been through anything like that. So it's hard to speak with any intelligence on that topic for someone who isn't you. It makes people more reticent to say anything if they feel like they'll be judged as amateurs on a topic.

7. Don't be needy. People don't want to feel obligated to interact with you. They do it because they WANT to do it. It's an invitation, not an inditement, to paraphrase Shakespeare. Complaining that you aren't getting responses may only keep people from commenting even longer. Remember that Aesop's Fable about the sun and the wind: Persuasion works better than force.

8. You go first. If you aren't making comments on other people's journals, they probably won't comment to yours. It's schoolyard, yes, but it's true. People are looking for a response from you first to what they are doing. If you just write and await your minions to comply with your desires, just grab a magazine from the pile on the coffee table in front of you. Godot will see you as soon as he can.

Look. I don't mean bash you here, or to say you're completely to blame for the lack of interaction you seek. However, I would say that you need to look at the various personalities you have friended, understand what they're about, get an idea about their lives, schedules, what they write about in their journals. My advice is to follow the above steps as a very loose guideline and maybe you'll get some results.



But this actually got me thinking about my journal, and how I sometimes don't always reply to a statement or comment someone makes on one of my posts. Typically, this happens towards the end of the posts, but occasionally, a comment will go unreplied in the middle somewhere. I notice this when I go into the archives to find posts that relate to something new that is being discussed. I'll look back and see a comment and wonder why I didn't say something back.

If I have done that to you, it was not because I ignored it. I just didn't type something back. Believe me, I cherish all the comments I get to anything I write. I think sometimes I don't always have a good enough reply to make it worth your while.

In fact, I stated that I would never delete this journal, and I'll probably open it up to the public if I ever do decide to stop writing here, so people can have it to look at for themselves. To me, when you allow people to comment on your journal, it's not entirely yours anymore. I mean, it is "YOURS" in that it is your journal, but it's also a little bit of everyone who sees fit to make a comment, leave their flavor there, give their insights, and spin things differently. That's why I'm against deleting journals. You are deleting everything everyone else took the time to say, along with your entries!

But the point here is that I'm apologizing to you if you wrote me a comment and expected me to reply and I didn't.

I'm sorry!

Oh, and HAPPY FRIDAY!

(xposted to spaceagers)

Comments

( 71 comments — Leave a comment )
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whatilove
Oct. 28th, 2005 12:29 pm (UTC)
good post :) I'm very guilty of not commenting often. I read; I don't often comment. I guess that the comments things is the tricky thing with LJ - its the line between having LJ for friendship and having LJ for reading some wonderful writers. What I cringe at is either people begging for comments (which I'm not saying you are doing here) and people who have hundreds of comments in an entry ... just for the sake of having hundreds of comments.

Happy Friday to you too :)
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 12:49 pm (UTC)
I think there are a good number of people who prefer to read. And that's fine! I think the gap happens when you are thinking that everyone needs to do things in a certain way (i.e. YOUR way) and you haven't given room for them to do it their way. Nothing drives people away faster than telling them they have to do this, this and this, but never that!

My tendency is to reply to every entry, which is why I'm running 6,000 comments ahead of replies over the lifetime of this journal! I can be just as overzealous as anyone!
mmmgirl
Oct. 28th, 2005 12:30 pm (UTC)
I agree with you 100%
I admit I have fallen victim to the..."no body comments on my journal wah" thing.
I also admit that it is due to my own overblown insecurities...and even though at times I think it is because I am not interesting enough or some other silly insecurity...I know it is all in my head.

This entry was a good thing for me to read. It was a reminder not to let my insecurities get the best of me and not to get in my own way.

Thank you
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC)
Re: I agree with you 100%
We all get a little insecure at times. And there's nothing wrong with a "I want to know you're out there" post some time. But you have to be able to rationalize a little bit too!

Like I said, I posted this here because I want to be able to refer back to it personally!

And you know you're welcome!
bubblesinmyhead
Oct. 28th, 2005 12:46 pm (UTC)
I think that expectations on the internet are really funny. You summed it all up very well here. Personally I'm just a big believer in comment karma. I give to other people and their journals what I'd hope to receive and so far I've been blessed with finding some of the best lj friends I could ever ask for. But even then people whom I LOVE on my friends list sometimes go a few weeks without leaving a comment on one of my posts and I just understand it as the same way you can go a few weeks without calling up a friend. Things get hectic, people cut corners on the time they spend on livejournal or even if a post is interactive sometimes we all go online but we're not necessarily in the mood to interact.

I always try to respond to comments left in my journal because I always want to appreciate people spending the time to leave something on my journal so I usually scan my recent two or three entries and make sure I reply to most -- at least ones that leave me some sort of a topic to reply on.

penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC)
I think most grasp the concept of how LJ works and how not everyone has time to comment, or missed an entry dedicated to them, or something like that... and so, there's no real problem, or at least not one that gets stated in a journal entry!

I do feel badly about comments that sometimes are left on their own, as it were. I appreciate them for sure! And there are some posts where I can't bring myself to reply to any of the comments. But I don't feel so bad about those, since I'm not commenting to any, rather than others, where it seems like I'm singling out one or two to ignore.

Overanlysis! What a way to start the weekend! :o)
(no subject) - bubblesinmyhead - Oct. 28th, 2005 12:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
sputnik
Oct. 28th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC)
I think commenting can sometimes be like writing letters back. Check out this recent article about Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin's letter writing habits and how they compare with modern email (and I suspect LJ comments as well)

http://www.livescience.com/history/051026_einstein_letters.html
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 12:59 pm (UTC)
That's quite telling, isn't it? The fact that we do have sort of a sporadic response to comments/email/letters... it's very human.

And to think I thought it was crazy to go back and reply to some of these months and years old comments! Maybe I ought?
(no subject) - sputnik - Oct. 28th, 2005 01:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crushdmb - Oct. 28th, 2005 02:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bubblesinmyhead - Oct. 28th, 2005 01:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sputnik - Oct. 28th, 2005 01:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
phrawzty
Oct. 28th, 2005 01:00 pm (UTC)
Here's another tip:

It's Livejournal. Journal. Not Liveroundtablediscussion, or Livedebatechampionship.

:)
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 01:07 pm (UTC)
Haha! You'd think people who write so much would at least read a little! ;o)
chelchik
Oct. 28th, 2005 01:03 pm (UTC)
Good Morning Sunshine!
I'm guilty of not replying to comments..big time! But, sometimes there is just nothing to say back.
Heck, I'm guilty of not making many comments on peoples posts (though I do read them all)...my main reason though is other than there isn't anything for me to say, sometimes I'm intimidated because a lot of people on my list are much smarter than I am, and I feel like my inner moron will shine if I say something. :D
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 01:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Good Morning Sunshine!
People should do what they feel they want to do on LJ, not be expected to conform to some standard. I mean, I guess there are people who are insistent on having all of their friends comment to remain on their lists, but that strikes me as such a high school approach. Really, in high school, life was much simpler, and you only had to deal with homework and the parents, with everything else finding its way into your personal orbit. Now, people are busy. There isn't always time to comment, especially when you want to craft a thoughtful reply, not just a "yeah!" and move on!

Not that there's anything wrong with a "yeah!" mind you!

;oD

And your moron comment? That is undeserving of a reply!!!
da_guru
Oct. 28th, 2005 02:00 pm (UTC)
you forgot the mother of all comment getters - post some noods of yourself. that will get lotsa responses. they may not stroke your ego, or they might, but you will get noticed. ;-)

yeah, i've thought about that from time to time, and i really appreciated 3. Criticize less, praise more. People don't want to interact with someone who spoonfeeds vinegar all the time. Mix that up a bit. i have a homie who spoonfeeds everyone around him vinegar. its like he chooses to see and experience life through shit colored lenses, and gets pissed when the rest of the world doesn't see life as he does: miserable, out to get him, and dangerous.

that said, i can be guilty of not commenting too, but i try only when i have something to say. and sometimes, its not that i dont have anything to say, but its about having time to figure out how to say it well.
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC)
Right. Nothing brings the comments like nudity!

Believe me, this was not a criticism directed at anyone who is able to read this comment. I hope people understand this. But I do think I am capable of falling into the pattern of needing a kick in the butt sometimes when dealing with this topic, so it's not you, it's me!
elysiangirl
Oct. 28th, 2005 03:02 pm (UTC)
brilliant!

that's all i can think of to say but i sincerely think it's brilliant and more people should take a look at why they might not be getting comments, if comments are what they seek. which is likely since most everyone likes to be validated and/or acknowledged, yeah?

i'll be honest, how often someone comments with me in my journal kinda determines how often i comment in theirs. if someone makes a special effort to comment, i do the same for them. if someone else is cool with only occasional comments, then that's what i do. it's not really conscious, but that's the way it works out.
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC)
Well, it seems like any time I pass by an entry on your journal, you have 58 messages. But part of that is your quick response to the people who have commented. It's almost an IM session in your journal!

I think most people will comment in the journals where there is interplay! That's just the social thing to do. Tit for tat, as it were.
(no subject) - elysiangirl - Oct. 28th, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Oct. 28th, 2005 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elysiangirl - Oct. 28th, 2005 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Oct. 28th, 2005 03:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
doeadear
Oct. 28th, 2005 03:02 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I wonder why you haven't replied to something in a long discussion, but since I have virtually no time these days (toddlers can get into much mischief) I figure it was a time thing. Like, if a few days have passed, I guess the immediacy has passed, ha. I also feel slighted if you comment in someone else's LJ about something I have also posted about, but I get over it. Three years ago, no, I would have whined. Now, it's a moment and it passes.

I was dropped by someone I met in real life, too, and I have no frickin idea why to this day. We met for lunch, I drove all the way to the other side of L.A. somewhere. And, she kept all the friends she had made through me. Hmmm. Also, when months go by and someone has not answered one single comment I have made on their LJ, I pretty much figure it's their way of telling me to get lost. These are long-time LJ friends who have not replied to comments in three months or more. I really feel a passive-aggressive slap in the face, so I do what I figure they are telling me to do. Sucks, doesn't it?

Anyway, I adore you. Did I mention that?
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 03:17 pm (UTC)
Time and distractions of various sorts are the typical reasons for missing a post, though sometimes the thought stays in my head, if the thought to reply does not. I've been trying to cite the people who inspire posts when it's a good thing to do (not like this particular post, where the poster's username was omitted to protect the guilty).

I don't know. I think that people would have grown up a little and deal with the whole dropping thing. But then again, there are a lot of people recently out of high school floating around here, and even those that aren't sometimes adopt that mentality, so that might explain some of it.

And you are A-DOE-ABLE, yourself!
__shesaid__
Oct. 28th, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC)
I've been horrible at commenting lately, used to be such the comment whore in the past, always commenting on entries and responding to the ones left in my entries. Just really haven't had the time lately but I still feel a bit guilty.

It really annoys me when people get extremely butt hurt over people not commenting on their entries and making these "screw you for not responding to my entries every single day...blah blah blah" and then they do the whacking of the friends list as a result. Oh well, some people seem to take lj as serious as real life I suppose:)

Yes happy friday, and yeah it's payday also! wheeee!!!!
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 08:48 pm (UTC)
We all go through cycles when it comes to commenting. Sometimes we get on a tear and have something to say to every post we see, other times we sit back and just read, and others we miss posts. That's just how it goes!

I think if we had all the time in the world to read and comment, we still probably wouldn't do it every time. As was pointed out by sputnik, we do tend to reply in a more sporadic way across the board.

But yes, the need to feel loved I think is at the root of the need to get comments. It's validating in a more concrete way. Some people need that in their life, while others are capable of being able to not need that support.

Thanks, and have a fine weekend C!
(no subject) - __shesaid__ - Oct. 28th, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
serendipity
Oct. 28th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC)
I wish I could comment more. I wish I could read this post in its entirety, and all the comments that follow. I wish I could post more myself, and reply more to the comments I do get. HOWEVER, I'm overwhelmed with my busy life and I recognize that many other LJers have limited time, as well. We all do what we can, here in LJ, maybe elsewhere online, and offline.

I must admit, sometimes I do feel unheard when I get very few comments, but then I don't *make* comments that much so I can't really complain.

And now it's time to start yet another work day.
tygerx
Oct. 28th, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC)
Yea what she said! lol
(no subject) - serendipity - Oct. 28th, 2005 08:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tygerx - Oct. 31st, 2005 10:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Oct. 28th, 2005 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Oct. 28th, 2005 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - serendipity - Oct. 29th, 2005 05:02 am (UTC) - Expand
groovyamy
Oct. 28th, 2005 05:29 pm (UTC)
BRAVO! BRAVO!! this is everything i've always wanted to say, but could never pull my thoughts together this organized and never made the time to really dig into it.

I'm SO guilty of being a bad commenter. but i really love each and every one of my friends. i often think my response after i read an entry and then get distracted and never type it out.

and alot of times i like to stew on things people have commented to me, and i usually intend on replying later, but then new posts and replies and events happen, and i'm onward in life.

i wish this post was public, i'd like to refer everyone to it as an official set of guidelines on comment etiquette.

[clicks Add to Faves]

you're awesome. :D
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 09:04 pm (UTC)
Hi Amy... thanks for the kudos!

The thing about humans is that we are all kinda the same, but all a little bit different. So, if you use that as a template, you can understand how different people use not only LJ but live their lives in very different ways. The problem comes when there are expectations that are projected onto these ways of doing things, either in real life or on our (not so) little commmunication system! It's in the space between what someone wants v. what we are able to deliver that people get freaky. That space is like an intersection that people need to keep clear: Don't Block The Box!

Hm. Ok, Done! I x-posted this essay to spaceagers where it is now on public display! :o)

And you're awesome too!
xqjennaqx
Oct. 28th, 2005 05:40 pm (UTC)
I don't understand the comment-nazi type.

If someone actually wants to read my pissing, moaning, griping, and rarely clever drivel, I'm thankful enough. Far be it from me to demand response. (With, of course, the obvious exception of slight ribbing here and there, but never with any actual emotion behind it.)

And as you said, when someone comments on something I wrote, and I don't comment back, it doesn't necessarily mean that I don't care or value the person or what they said, it could mean that I have nothing to add, or simply, no time to add it!

penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC)
I think that the whole "needing reassurance" is where I get lost. If you are so needing, then it follows that you can't give a lot... it's that "beggars of the soul" concept you might see on the 5 of Pentacles Tarot card. You can never give what you don't have, so you'll always be wanting more and would rarely give back. It's social vampirism!

It's rare for me to walk the "Buffy" path, so that's why it's so rare for me to need to talk about this! But absolutely... there are many reasons for not commenting, and most have nothing to do with the poster!
(no subject) - danigolden - Oct. 28th, 2005 09:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Oct. 28th, 2005 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xqjennaqx - Oct. 28th, 2005 10:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
sparkle_shortz
Oct. 28th, 2005 05:47 pm (UTC)
I feel like sometimes LJ comments get like thank-yous. You could stand around saying "Thank you!" "No, thank YOU!" all day, but why?

I enjoy your comments and sometimes I do get freaked out by TOTAL lack of comments, but I'm not going to be deleting people about it ;)
penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 09:18 pm (UTC)
It is a bit like that Heckle and Jeckle cartoon where they each are standing around saying "oh please and thank you!" "indubitably! thank you!" "oh, no, no, no! Thank YOU!" Which is cute but after a while, the concept is understood.

Life tends to move faster and sometimes there's not always the time. Oh, and I just thought of another note about why people might not comment! Familarity. Not only does it breed contempt, but lack of it makes people less likely to make personal remarks! Maybe I should edit this post?

Naah. I can't go back and edit the reply I made. :o) But thanks for adding a little more inspiration!!
(no subject) - sparkle_shortz - Oct. 28th, 2005 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
vaysha
Oct. 28th, 2005 05:54 pm (UTC)
my commentary on comments
I love the lj has the option of being interactive.

I don't always comment unless I feel I have something to add.
I don't always have the time to comment or feel what I am thinking has already been said.
I also don't expect comments I just hope I am read when the person has time if I am on their list.
I often get offended by people who freak out about comments. It feels very conditional. I enjoy my friends list immensely and treasure the interaction I do have. Days or even weeks my life doesn't allow for much computer time (I have two boys who socialize and do homework on the computers) I would hate to feel someone is sitting there stewing over conjectured reasons I am not replying or commenting.
=/

I like what you had to say here. All fantastic tips. I am just sorry someone took you off their list and you might have had a moment of sad. If I may though, it's my judgement that this person was being a bit childish.

penpusher
Oct. 28th, 2005 09:26 pm (UTC)
Re: my commentary on comments
Exactly, Miss V! It's all about options!

And I agree with your little checklist. Sometimes, if the comment I would have said has been made by someone else, I don't say anything! That's an excellent other point that I didn't make here (though in this particular case, it didn't apply, since this person doesn't get many comments at all).

You are of the easygoing style and that is, for me anyway, the way to go. Also, you entries are crafted and have lots of always beautiful and sometimes breathtaking photos, they almost demand a comment.

As for this situation, I was more stunned than sad. And I felt more sad for this person than I did for me. It's like pushing away the answer to the problem, and then screaming because nothing has been resolved. It did have elements of two-year old tantrum, now that you mention it!
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