More often than you might expect I get emails from blog readers who are curious about how I feel about the comments on Stranger. My friends and family are constantly asking me about this, too.
"Don't you think it's annoying when someone leaves a comment telling you to marry Jolyn/Rebecca/Hannah/TheQofC?"
"Did it make you mad when that anonymous commenter said that your writing is boring?"
"Why don't you delete the comments that call you a liar and say that you exaggerate?"
"Why don't you ever respond when people accuse you of being gay? THEY ARE ACCUSING YOU OF BEING GAY!"
You may have noticed that I'm not the world's most avid comment responder. I make a point here and there to pop in and say hi, but mostly I'm too lazy and tired and distrac . . . oh look! A bird!
And you may have noticed, too, that I don't delete comments often either. I do have that capability, by the way. I just don't do it often. Besides cleaning out spam, I think I have probably deleted fewer than five comments in Stranger's eight-year history. Two of those deletions were because the commenter attacked me so viciously and unfairly that it seemed irresponsible to leave it there for my friends, family, and colleagues to run into it out of context. The others were because the comment criticized someone I care about. AND ONLY I GET TO DO THAT.
In all honesty, I don't typically respond to nasty comments or overly-inquisitive ones because I don't really mind them. When Stranger first started picking up traffic a few years ago, that was not the case. A cutting remark could ruin my day. A compliment could make it. So much of my mood and happiness flickered at the whim of the anonymous masses' opinions.
I wrote to you from the Land of Coconuts two years ago about how I realized I had grown to depend, emotionally, on validations. And how I had grown to base my self-worth on the tide of public opinion. I had a realization at that time that this was a very unhealthy behavior I had developed. And I quickly began to work through that.
I'm proud to say that I've come a long way since then. I've developed what I think is a pretty healthy relationship with social media and Stranger interactions. I still appreciate the comments and emails and I cry every time someone reminds me how good my hair looks today, but otherwise they don't have much of an emotional effect on me.
I do read every comment. And I do often take your suggestions and criticism to heart. And very often your communication with me has helped shape me as a writer and as a person.
Sometimes someone will tell me that if I keep doing something or stop doing something else I'm going to "lose readers." While I love having people read my writings, and while I very much enjoy seeing the Stranger community grow, the reality is that Stranger isn't like a lot of those other blogs out there that . . . like . . . make money and feed children and stuff.
My livelihood and career don't depend on this blog. I'm too lazy and confused to figure out how to make money off of it. So the idea that I might lose readers isn't a totally scary thing to me. And I hope that never changes. Because if I suddenly started to feel pressure to write in order to maintain some kind of popularity or suffer severe consequences, I think whatever creativity I have would dissolve. And I would have to resort to writing endlessly about cats and pictures of photoshopped toes.
Wait . . .
At the end of the day, Stranger is something I created to record my thoughts, jokes, and experiences and share them with anyone who is interested. And while I've evolved and changed and my writing reflects that, the purpose of Stranger has never changed. I have found myself a lot through this stupid little blog. And I'm so happy that so many of you have found something valuable here too.
I love that our Stranger community is what it is. I love that it continues to grow. And I will forever be grateful for all of the incredible experiences I've had because of Stranger and because of your interest in it.
Stranger will continue to be a way for me to record my thoughts, jokes, and experiences and share them with anyone who is interested. They may not always make sense. They may sometimes bore you to tears or make you feel outrage because I offered to slap your children at the grocery store. And I'll be happy to continue to hear your thoughts on my thoughts and maybe, if I'm not feeling too lazy that day, I'll even share my thoughts on your thoughts on my thoughts.
But in short, no, it doesn't bother me that someone tells me to marry Jolyn/Rebecca/Hannah/TheQofC. I've been trying to find a legal way to get them to agree to such an arrangement, as a matter of fact.
And no, it didn't make me mad when that commenter said my writing was boring. It made me a little sad for the commenter, but it didn't affect the way I saw myself.
And yes, it's ok that people get upset that I exaggerate. I have the same visceral reaction every time an ad tells me that the next episode of Glee is a "can't miss."
And, finally, I feel no need to respond to "accusations" about my sexual orientation. This is mostly because I don't believe it is offensive to call someone gay or straight. It's like guessing about which hand they use to write their name. But also, I really love the comment threads where people passionately argue about this topic and state conclusions firmly, one way or another. I always find those enlightening and informative. So thank you for that.
Truly, sincerely, thank you for your kindness. For your participation in this community. For the many times you have expressed concern for my well-being. And, even, for the occasional constructive criticism that has helped me grow.
And, sorry for all the times I showed you pictures of Tami.
~It Just Gets Stranger