Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blog Comments

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

55 comments:

  1. Aw, thank you, Eli. Tami's sweet, I'm sure, but having a completely exposed layer of skin that's all gross and stuff isn't suitable to be left uncovered. Gosh, saying I really hate her and she makes my stomach revolt makes me feel ashamed of myself. Only on Stranger does a toe become a person.

    I feel like all the blogs around me are producing content just for me! I just received a series of emails this morning attacking me, as a person. My blogs gets *maybe* ten pageviews a day, so it was incredibly shocking to look at first thing in the morning. After figuring out what to do and how to assure my safety, I had to remind myself that my self worth can't come from my blog. I breathed, and now I agree with you... it has to come from elsewhere, otherwise we'd all be a wreck. And I thank you so much for sharing this, because hearing about other people's bad experiences is like being given a reassuring hug! ^.^ In the best way.

    Also, taking off captcha (the STUPID little "enter numbers/word/phrase/letters here" thing) was the best decision you've ever made and don't you DARE regret it. I'm one-billion percent sure everyone loves and appreciates you just for that! ;)

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  2. Your writing really touched me Eli. You really made my day. :-)

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  3. I don't know why you keep posting pictures of Tami. Her hair is so much nicer that yours...I figure you'd be totally jealous :)

    Plus, I thought Tami was the gay one, and living in sin with TQoC!

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    1. That's a difficult question. The Q of C's gender has always been a mystery.

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    2. I'm more confused about Tami's gender actually...

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  4. I read several blogs and you blog is definitely my favorite. I think it is because of many of the reasons you posted. I never get the feel that you are trying to gain numbers or write something "edgy", hoping it will go viral.... But I must say that as an actual left-handed person, I would be VERY bothered if someone accused me of being a righty!!

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  5. Eli, this is great news!! Having haterz just means you've "arrived" -- like Justin Bieber (or Neil Patrick Harris, you choose). Just know that when you acknowledge the troll, you feed the troll. Let's starve the troll and move on.

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  6. Eli! I saw you at the food court at City Creek yesterday. And, YOUR HAIR REALLY DOES LOOK THAT GOOD IN REAL LIFE!!!!! But, also, I was too intimidated by your awesomeness to say hi.

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    1. YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID HI! Think of all the mutual hair complimenting we missed out on!

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    2. I have never commented on a blog before but this is something I wonder about myself. I work in City Creek and often see Eli, but I never say hi either--even to let him know that he is having a particularly good hair day or to let him know the sides of his hair have now grown out enough that he is back to having great hair days. It just seems odd.

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    3. You should all say hi! I'm desperate for friends and attention!

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    4. Oh man, I envy you all. I would so run up to Eli and mess up his hair. Or creep him out in some form or other. It would be a spur of the moment type of decision.

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    5. Say hi to him and take lots of selfies for proof! That's totally what I would do - I've also wondered if it would be weird to invite him over for dinner with my crazy kids and husband (he's not crazy, just the kids).

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    6. Next time. I can't believe I passed up that opportunity!!!! I'm still beating myself up about not doing it. And, yes, of course selfies would be in order!

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  7. Huh...good thought...why DON'T you marry QofC?! Or Leotrix for that matter?

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  8. I bet you sign your name with your left hand.... lefty!

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  9. "... 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."

    Look, I know Casper isn't your favorite, but you STILL HAVE TO FEED HIM. It's the law!

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    1. If you figured out how to make money off of this blog, maybe Casper would be fed ...

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  10. I just really want an update on Eli's mom blog... I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO BEAT JUNE SNAPPLE AT THE NEXT CRAFT FAIR

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    1. Well the rumor is that Eli's Mom Blog may be making a come back in 2015 . . .

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    2. I'm not gonna lie - Eli's response to this comment made my day.

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  11. Thank you for being you! Don't ever change! I recently unfollowed several pages on FB because I was tired of the drama and pointless blog posts, that cut down other people for their "fans". I didn't have to think twice about keeping yours, because of how awesome you are.

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  12. I'm glad to hear you've developed what my dad calls a "thick skin". He was the movie critic for the DNews for 20+ years and he's told us that in the past, he actually had people send him death threats who disagreed with his opinions. OPINIONS. Craziness! My siblings and I usually avoid reading the comments on his weekly column even now (no longer the film critic, he still has an entertainment column on Fridays) because sometimes they are personal attacks on our dad and it really upsets us. He says he learned long ago to just take it in stride.

    PS- I thought the QofC was married already, to the First Eye; is that the legal part you're struggling with? Maybe it can be a marriage quadrangle or something.

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  13. Oh Eli, you know we love you. Just keep on keepin' on...

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  14. Wait...you DON'T take everything I say seriously and to heart!?!? WHAT?!!?! That's it...I'm never coming back here again!

    ;)

    It's good that you can let things go like that. It's really important when you do something like blog writing, or anything where people can respond to something you post. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc... Anyone can get hurt emotionally. Even when people slam me on here, it hurts for a bit but then I just tell myself, ya gotta let it go. There's always someone who's going to complain about something you say when you post it online. It also helps that someone usually says something nice about me afterwards, but even if they don't, I just need to learn to let it go. Thank you all by the way, I'm glad some of you enjoy my comments. I try to post things that are at least somewhat humorous in conjunction to whatever Eli posted that day, so hopefully you get a laugh from it. I need to think up some new material.

    In any case, Eli, I always enjoy reading your blog with my morning breakfast. When there's nothing posted to read that day I'm disappointed, not in you of course (I know you're a super busy guy), but just that I don't get to read something funny or insightful. So thank you for entertaining us with your humor, and keeping us thinking with some of your thought provoking blogs.

    Salut!

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  15. I really, really loved this post. I 100% agree with this: "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."

    I'm a hetero, single, 30 yr old woman. And recently after I mentioned going on a date with a man, an acquaintance was shocked, as they had thought I was gay. And the PROFUSELY apologized for thinking so. Why apologize for that? There's nothing wrong with being gay, so why in the world would I be offended by it?

    As far as people wanting to know and asking, I think its human nature to want to categorize people. Whether that's good or bad, people just want to feel like they know you. I for one have secretly wondered about your orientation. But mostly because I think you're cute. Purly selfish reasoning. hah!

    p.s. Johnny Galecki from Big Bang Theory did an interview (on the View, barf) a few years back about this exact subject, and it really influenced the way I feel about this topic. Here's the link (skip to 4:00) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkhYxIPfTuk

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  16. I got published on thought catalog once. I'm in no way a writer but they printed my submission and the comments I got were soooo mean. The respond got a few hundred responses and the mean ones seriously made me cry. And it made me realize how many times I've vehemently disagreed with an article and then made assumptions about the writer and posted my misguided, often less than Christ-like thoughts online. And now I can't even imagine what my little bad comment did to the writer. But this was my first experience with it so without thick skin what large masses of strangers say about you hurts!

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  17. Speaking of too lazy and confused....said AngryRedHen signed in as "Anonymous." Kudos to your healthy attitude! My son and I had a conversation about him wanting to make a living as a performer, and your post today reminded me of that. I told him it is a wonderful thing to be able to make a living doing something that you are passionate about, but that there is a danger in having your living depend on what the world thinks of you. The temptation lurks to lose your true self in that, I think. And I'm happy to see the world through your eyes...we share similarly-tinted glasses there, methinks!

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  18. I LOVE this article! I read all of your blog posts but never comment, but this one, this one needs a response. GOOD ON YOU! Plus your your hair looks fabulous as always. May the wind always be at your back, hmmmm, no... May the wind never ruffle your hairstyle and Ollie be always at your feet.

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  19. Good for you, Eli!! I love your blog and come to read it every day for the laughs and insights. It's a nice little break in my day where I can enjoy some humor that doesn't have to do with The Wiggles or My Little Pony (can ya tell I have 2 young kids?) You keep doing what your doing and we'll keep on reading what you write. Now, when is that book you've been writing for, like, a century now coming out?

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  20. Eli- your hair looks really good today.

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  21. Do you get much money from the in-text ads? They are super annoying. If they make you some money, I won't complain. But I'd much rather see you put up a paid ad spot in your sidebar and get rid of the in-text ads!

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    1. I don't have in-text ads. Those are showing up on your end because of the cookies or something or other on your computer. They used to show up on mine too. I don't have any kinds of advertising anywhere on the blog at all. Unless you consider Tami's hair an advertisement for beauty.

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    2. Hmm, I don't know about that. Are you sure Blogger or your theme-writer hasn't snuck in a default option that turns them on?

      How did you get rid of them on your end? Did you install an ad-blocker or extension? If so, they will still be showing up for everyone else, but not you.

      I only see them on your blog. I tried about 15 other blogspot blogs, and the in-text ads didn't turn up on any of those, or on any other website I go to.

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    3. I had it too and just thought it was part of Eli's blog.

      After searching the interwebs, I found that it was an Extension for my Google Chrome browser. There are lots of possible suspects according to what I read, but for me all I had to do was delete the Extension and the ad links went away!

      Except for the ad for beauty that is Tami (is her full name Tami Twinkle Toe?), of course.

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    4. I found the same answer from Google, but I don't have any suspect extensions. Unless it's my Pinterest Pinner. I'll try deleting that and see what happens. Maybe Pinterest piggybacked it onto their pinner.

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    5. Nope, it wasn't the Pin-It Button. I deleted that, and the Evernote Clipper (they were my only extensions), and the ads persist.

      It's possible (but very unlikely) that I have some sketchy malware serving the ads, but it's weird that this is the only site I see them on.

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    6. That is odd! I definitely don't see them here. If you discover that it somehow is my fault, please let me know. I would love to get rid of them for you if it's in my power to do so.

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    7. Well, if you're not getting money for it, I'm turning adBlock on on your website. Tell us if you ever decide to put real ads up!

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    8. When the ad pops up click on the arrow on the top right corner. On the page that comes up, click on the disable tab. Follow the instructions to remove the ads. It worked for me.

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    9. Oh thank goodness. This was driving me crazy, but I just opted out of the 86 companies that were advertising to me. Now they are gone and I feel much better about life now.

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  23. But for realz yo'. You should definitely marry The Q of C no matter it's gender. Think of the fancy hair!

    Thanks to your replies, my life has changed. I discovered Cookie Butter and convinced/harassed my friend bring it back to Canada from Nashville. BECAUSE I COULDN'T FIND IT IN CANADA!!

    I seriously considered getting a food processor to make it.

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    1. Honestly, Eli has changed my family's and my own life forever because of Cookie butter.

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  24. I have been reading your lovely blog for a while now and you never fail to make my day better. I recently started nursing school and when the pressure starts to get to me I read this blog. Old stories, new stories, sometimes just the comments from other strangers make me smile and help to relieve that stress. Somehow you and your genius writing has made me more sane. Thanks Eli!

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    1. I've never commented, but I've been a reader for a few years. My husband became a fan when I showed him your dramatic journal readings. My kids looked over my shoulder one day and immediately fell in love with Ollie, and now want to hear your stories. When my husband (also an attorney) has a bad day, I read him one of your work stories. When my girls have had a bad day we look at pictures of Ollie. My son thinks Tami is disgustingly awesome, and the snuggie texts are legen---dary. We all admire your hair.

      We moved to Utah 2 weeks ago and my 6 year old asked "Now can we meet Ollie...oh, and maybe that guy?" You have a whole family here whose lives you've touched through your humor and writing. Keep doing what you are doing.

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  26. Eli and I had our rough moments of misunderstanding, and I fear that he and I might never be friends again. But even in that context, I will say that I have met few guys who are as caring and friendly as he is. He has such a passion for writing that he's not afraid to share, a quality that most people merely dream about but never have the courage to do. He was literally the best friend I ever had while living in Salt Lake, and I wouldn't trade those moments for the world. He's an amazing guy, and I will be the first person to stand by him in defense of his character.

    ~ Once a Friend, Now a Stranger

    (Not Eli's fault. I was a jerk to him.)

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  27. This IS an awesome post and paragraph 17 cracked me up.

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  28. I love reading your blog. I've only commented one other time (mostly because I'm creepily going back to the beginning to read about the last 8 years of your life so I can feel like I'm a legitimate stalker/fan instead of one that only knows about the last few months...that would be very sloppy of me.) but I really appreciated this post. Learning to be happy and be content without relying on the validation of those around you is such a monumental task. It's inspiring to know you've made such progress in the right direction. Keep it up. :)

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  29. Eight years!! Thats impressive. ive been following for over four years now and it's been great. I have read every post because I went back when I first found stranger. Anyway, I love it. This the only blog I follow and I have seen it change but for the better. Thanks for including us in your lives.

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