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Criticism Is As Welcome As Praise

I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now and have been fortunate enough to draw a regular readership that totals just slightly over a million page views a year. As blogs and web sites go, it’s not that impressive; a buddy of mine who runs a much larger conservative blog out of Florida draws in excess of 14 million for example. Still, it’s more readership than I ever thought this blog would achieve and I appreciate the support.

Many of my readers take the time to share the post with their friends and followers which I also appreciate and more than a few share their opinions in the comments section which I enjoy.

It doesn’t much matter to me if the people who comment agree or disagree with what I wrote. I believe that in a free and democratic society we shouldn’t be afraid to disagree with each other and that opinions differing from our own are as helpful to understanding an issue as those that agree with ours.

Differing opinions may, in fact, be even more helpful because they may highlight a piece of information we didn’t know which might broaden our own understanding.

That isn’t true in all cases, of course. An increasing amount of opinion is little more than emotional sputtering and attacks by people who troll web sites looking for something to offend them. I get a few here on the big blog from time to time and they’re always pretty much the same – long on personal attack but short on fact or even basic intelligence.

I don’t worry about those people and they don’t offend me. I actually tend to feel sorry for them if the truth be told. They are small, petty little people whose grip on reality is somewhat tenuous at best and whose beliefs are so fragile that anything that differs from theirs is seen as a threat.

Some, of course, lash out, with little more than arrogance. I don’t take them too seriously either. Arrogance is a poor substitute for ability or knowledge and typically these folks are so insecure in their opinion and even themselves that the only way they can find any form of self-validation is by belittling others.

We all have opinions whether we want to or not. It’s how we’re wired. We become aware of something and we almost automatically form an opinion. We might consider it noteworthy or asinine, informative or offensive, pointless or just plain stupid. I believe that everyone, even the chronically obtuse are entitled to their opinions and even to express them. It’s why I have an open comments section rather than one, like my Florida buddy, that moderates his comment section requiring comments to be approved before being posted.

I have few rules for the comment section of this blog, almost all of which revolve around personal attacks on other people who have posted comments or on the use of over-the-top offensive language. Attacks on me are almost always accepted unless they are just outright childish. I have even less patience with adolescent foolishness than I do with stupidity.

I don’t define stupid as calling me names like capitalist lickspittle or filthy Liberal, those tend to make me chuckle nor do I define it as having an opinion different from mine, no matter how misinformed I might believe it to be. For me, stupid is defined as intellectual sputtering – an opinion that is so bereft of anything other than spitting and drooling that it has no value whatsoever.

I delete those comments because this is a blog for adults, not simple-minded trolls with the emotional maturity of six-year olds.

Often, I get lucky and someone will post a comment that highlights a bit of information that I got wrong and they will include a link or two to an informative web site that advances my knowledge of something. Other times I get comments that are quite witty and that make me laugh out loud. I’ve had more than one person skewer one of my posts with some wonderfully funny wit that I truly enjoyed even as I learned something new. Some point out my spelling mistakes which doesn’t take much effort. Even Spell Check has given up on my ability to spell correctly.

My experience with this blog has tended to teach me something about people who leave comments these days.

They can be divided into groups.

There are those who are regular readers of various mainstream and social media web sites and who have a valid opinion which either agrees or disagrees with the original article. They tend to leave fairly civil and reasoned comments, usually fact-based, which manages to express an opinion without the tragically desperate need to resort to personal attacks.

Sometimes those comments are partisan, sometimes not but almost always they are fairly well thought out.

Unfortunately, members of this group themselves often tend to become victims of attacks by other less-informed commenters.

Another group, smaller unfortunately, are simply cleverly funny. They manage to express an opinion that can often be very pointed but do it with tongue planted firmly in cheek. I have a lot of respect for people who can put forward a well-informed opinion through humour. It leaves the door wide-open for continuing debate and discussion without having it degenerate into pointless and childish name-calling.

Sadly those folks are too few and too far between although I’ve been fortunate enough to attract more than a few from time to time and I particularly enjoy that many of them aren’t the least bit shy about giving me a poke when they thought I deserved it.

The saddest group are the trolls, the folks who spend their days ferreting out everything and anything with which they disagree on a purely emotional level and who then attack anyone and everyone who voices contrary opinion. They never argue on the facts, they usually are unaware of them. It is strictly visceral. They are so pathetically insecure that they feel the need to try and overcome that insecurity by demeaning others.

I don’t find these folks offensive – at least not personally – just tragically pathetic.

Imagine how stupid it is to spend your life going back day after day to web sites that post articles you hate only to read a new article and then spewing out childish slurs to try and reinforce your own insecurities. They are people who have and probably never will understood that their anger and their muttering accomplishes nothing other than giving them a random moment of feeling superior to everyone else. It doesn’t advance the rightness of their opinion because no opinion is stated. It doesn’t persuade anyone to consider the validity of their argument because there is no argument – just petty and usually silly name-calling. My six-year old grandson can do better than folks like that.

The question that keeps coming back to me is, if someone really doesn’t like what you write or the opinions you express, why in God’s good name do they keep coming back to read more? How pathetic is that? How could you feel anything other than sad for people who have so little else of value in their lives?

The reason I mention this is because I’ve had more than a few emails asking me to do something about some of the more offensive commenters but with the exception of a couple, I’m not going to change how we do things here.

Basically there are only two rules.

If you come to the blog and read something you don’t like, feel free to have at it. Discuss, debate, tell me I’m stupid. Civil and informed criticism is as welcome as praise. Just don’t attack other readers of the blog. I will delete and block you for cheap, personal attacks on other readers.

The only other rule is that if you are so stupid that you can’t provide a comment without frothing at the mouth and drooling down the front of your shirt don’t waste your time here. I’m tired of buying paper towels just to clean up after you.

It’s a big ol’ world and there is room for all of us but seating is limited so if you want to sit down here and you are invited to do so but – and there is always a but – at least have the courtesy to engage your brain before you open your mouth.

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© 2015 Maggie’s Bear

all rights reserved The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it might be of interest to others

Twitter: @maggsbear – Facebook: Maggie’s Bear  – ivmaki@sympatico.ca

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  • deb Scott

    I like your conservative pov, its reasonable, rational, informative and clearminded. I wish more folks were like you.

    • MaggiesBear

      thank you

  • shakylady

    Here’s some healthy criticism……your blog sucks. You are teetering on the edge of being a full blown liberal. And you drone on and on and on about the most boring things. Please do us all a favor and quit. Go join all of your public servant relatives and live life doing sweet FA like them. Thanks.

    • MaggiesBear

      I’ll take that as encouraging. Last week you called me a filthy Liberal, this week I’m merely teetering on the edge of becoming a Liberal. That’s high praise indeed coming from you. Something else you might want to consider, if my blog is so boring, what does it say about you that you keep coming back to read it? You really do have to get a hobby Shake.

    • Jared Milne

      Did you even go back and read Bear’s post? You’re exactly the kind of person who he was making fun of, the kind of people who add nothing of value to the debate.

      It’s because Maggie’s Bear cares about Canada and supports conservatism that he’s trying to be a thoughtful critic. If you want to know one of the biggest reasons why the Harper Conservatives have lost support since they got their majority, it’s because of people like you making the whole conservative movement.

    • Jared Milne

      Did you even go back and read Bear’s post? You’re exactly the kind of person who he was making fun of, the kind of people who add nothing of value to the debate.

      It’s because Maggie’s Bear cares about Canada and supports conservatism that he’s trying to be a thoughtful critic. If you want to know one of the biggest reasons why the Harper Conservatives have lost support since they got their majority, it’s because of people like you making the whole conservative movement look bad.

      • MaggiesBear

        You get it. If we’re not going to defend our conservative values by holding to account those we elect to represent them, we will lose them soon enough. It is conservative trolls who elevated Trudeau to a level of threat he neither deserved nor earned. We would have been better served had our conservative leadership honoured our value and ignored Trudeau. The constant sniping at him has only served to give him credibility he doesn’t deserve.

  • Pingback: Criticism Is As Welcome As Praise | Grumpy Opinions()

  • charlie98

    Criticism is easy. Constructive criticism, meaning here’s how to improve the situation, is much more difficult, requires actual thought thereby becoming more valuable.

    • damorris

      Yes,it’s easy, and I wish some of the emotional trolls would bother to use google before they make their attacks, it might save them some embarrassment, assuming they’re capable of being embarrassed.