“Don’t read the comments.” That’s a pretty basic rule when you put anything out on the internet. Videos, blogs, et cetera, comment pages are known to be cesspools of hatred and criticism. I’m actually one of the blessed few to have mostly positive comments. For many, the basic rule is not to really bother with them.
Am I too idealistic to say this shouldn’t be the case? Is it crazy to wish that someone could read through their comments without trepidation? Perhaps. Criticism is part of art and cruelty is part of the internet culture, but I believe we can reestablish balance on the internet.
So I’ve started a challenge, primarily for myself, but also for anyone who reads this post. It’s call the Good-Comment Challenge. If you saw something you liked on the internet, tell the creator so by writing a good comment. Simple as.
Why so simple a challenge? Because most people don’t do it.
Good Criticism is Rare
As Ego said on Ratatouille, bad reviews are fun to write and read. Internet reviewers like The Nostalgia Critic, Cinema Sins, and Honest Trailers have made millions laugh with hilarious jibes at a film’s expense. Insults and anger can be darn funny and everybody loves commiserating over something they hate.
But fewer people will comment on good things and fewer will get famous for doing so. If people see something they hate, they’ll say so and everyone responds to it. If they see something they like, they won’t, and if they do, fewer will reply.
We live in the age of “unbad.” You don’t have to do good as long as you aren’t doing bad.
And this is sad. Every creator, when he puts out his work, wants to know one thing: what do you think? The dissatisfied will sound off instantly. Those who enjoyed will tell their friends, their family, and their own internet audience…but never the creator.
I realized this myself the other day. Remember those three critics I listed a few paragraphs up? I realized I’ve enjoyed hundreds of their videos and never once told them so. How would I feel it millions read a book I wrote, enjoyed it, and couldn’t be bothered to say a word about it?
What’s It Matter?
“I’m watching it, aren’t I? That makes their numbers go up. Why do I have to write a comment?”
Because it gives joy to the person giving you joy.
Several months ago, a coworker who read my book many months before that came up to me out of the blue and told me how much he loved it. That single compliment made my entire day. Creators pour their whole soul into their work (good ones do). When you love their work, you love them, even a little.
If someone has given you the gift of laughter, heart, knowledge, or simple entertainment, why not tell them? Besides, there’s plenty of hate out there. We need some balance.
One kind voice can lift someone’s spirit. Don’t wait for somebody else’s. Let it be yours.
But it’s Haaaaarrrrddd!
Just watching something or clicking a Like button is easy. With comments, there are sometimes extra steps like adding a name or email address, or even creating an entire account. It’s not a one-click deal. Plus, putting your opinion on the internet is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.
But easy is cheap. Let’s go the extra mile for the person who went the extra mile for their audience.
That being said, don’t just write a one-word reply like “Awesome” or “Great job!” Get specific. Tell them what make you laugh or cry the most. And don’t just comment on your friend’s re-post. Go to the creator’s site and tell them directly. Like that drawing on Pinterest? Click on their DeviantArt page and say it to their face.
Extra effort? Yeah. But this isn’t about you. It’s about giving credit where credit is due and supporting creators of quality content.
Bad comments are never going away. That’s the risk you take when you put your soul our there. I’ve humiliated myself on this very blog and been attacked on posts. I’m not saying we should pretend crap is good. I’m just saying that if we already like something, let the creator know with your own unique voice.
The internet shouldn’t be a place of just hatred and criticism. We can encourage just as easily as we tear down. The effort it takes to say something good is the same as it takes to say something bad. Let’s put out good comments that make the artist glad they went to work that day.
I have a dream…that those who write, film, paint, or otherwise create, will be excited to check the comments, knowing they’ll find more balm than venom.
Who’s With Me?
I’m an artist. I love good comments. And personally, I take silence as an insult. But a man who wants friends must himself be friendly, and someone said that I must be the change I wish to see in the world. Jesus demonstrated model-teaching, so I will be the first on this journey and hope that others follow me.
Starting now, when I see some blog, video, or picture that strikes me, I want to make an effort to say so to the creator. I can’t comment on everything because not everything stirs me. I won’t always find the original creator on a copy-crazy internet. And I know I’ll get lazy.
And Pinterest is going to take WAY more time…
But I have to start somewhere. God, help me to love those who’ve given me joy.
Who else wants to make the internet a less hateful place?