I used to think that the biggest advantage of the Internet compared to the old-fashioned media is that the communication doesn't just go one way. It's not just a few people broadcasting to everyone, but instead it's everyone having an equal voice.
But having spent years on the Internet has taught me something more: most of those “equal voices” are stupid and spiteful. And that's I don't have to listen to all of them.
I have a bad habit that I'm trying really hard to get rid of: and it's the need to always be right, to always have the last word. I was basically this person:
I'm not saying that I'm always right, of course, because I'm not. But I usually decide to only voice my opinions on issues that I know a lot about. I can't be wrong about Kardashians for example, because I simply don't talk about Kardashians. But when we're talking about web development, the stuggles of the LGBTQ+ community, linguistics, etc., I'm speaking up and backing up my views with data, knowledge and experience.
The problem is – not a lot of people seem to share that approach. Just last week, after having created zaimki.pl and being featured in a Queer.pl interview, I went through the comments underneath and wept for humanity.
People would start their comment with “I'm not an expert, but…” and end with “…creating neopronouns / neologisms is absolutely impermissible in linguistics!”. People would
read see an article mentioning that one of the creators of the website is a professional English-Polish translator, and then accuse the creators of not even knowing how Polish and English are different or even that they belong to different groups of languages. Seriously.
And that's the kind of comments that bring absolutely no value. They are a thing because of this stupid notion, that everyone's opinion is valid.
And it's not. If your knowledge of linguistics comes down to speaking your native tongue and having heard in school once about the existence of Slavic languages and Germanic languages – your opinion about language evolution will probably not be useful to a professional translator or a finalist of a national linguistic competition, will it? If you're a white, able-bodied straight cis man, your opinion on how minorities should behave and how we should fight for our human rights will probably not be too useful in the discussion, now will it? If you haven't read and understood the original post, your comment below that post will probably suck, won't it? And so on, and so forth…
But I was taught toxic habits, so I kept answering those comments. I kept answering the guy who transparently was trying to destroy my project for a personal vendetta. I kept educating priviledged people that they don't have a say in the minorities' fight for equal rights. I kept re-writing points from the post for the people who clearly have not read it. I kept answering the guy who used the online comments to bully me in real life.
Reading what haters and know-better-than-the-experts have to say is hard emotional labour. Answering them is even harder. It requires a lot of time and effort, and leaves you with ragged nerves. Some people clearly come to my mentions not to have a valid discussion or to share their point of view – they come specifically to waste my time. And I'm so stupid to let them play their game…
Anyways… a few years back I was really into making sure that everything I create has a comment section, that I don't “censor” any voices, don't ban any abusers, don't hide any homophobic slurs…
But now I don't care about that anymore. I simply create things that I like, I share them with anyone who wants to listen to my words or to use my projects – and if anyone has found a factual error in my post, a bug on a website, if they have any useful input or suggestion, or if they want to cooperate – there's still plenty of ways to contact me about it.
There is simply no need for a space, where everyone can anonymously put their queerphobic views on my website.
Technically speaking, creating a comment section is complicated – with the need for a database, possibly user authentication, moderation, rich text editor, etc. When I was creating a new version of this blog, I kept it simple (and then again I went even simpler). The current version doesn't even have a database – it generates static HTML from SUML files. So a comment section would be more complex than the blog itself That's why I had decided to outsource that logic to Disqus.
Technically, Disqus works like a charm. But for the sake of my mental health and hours of needlessly wasted time – it's time to go one step further.
I simply removed the comment section. Poof.
And I'm not the only one to do that. Many major newspapers get rid of their comment section nowadays, or at least limit the write access to paying subscribers.
Live's too short for trolls.
PS Before you accuse me of “silencing criticism”, “hiding in my bubble”, “not being open to discussion”, “not being open to change my mind”, etc., please let me tell you that I used to be a devout catholic, conservative, right-wing… Now I'm a pansexual, polyamorous enby, intersectional feminist and human rights advocate. I am able to change my mind, because I already have made a 180° turn (and multiple smaller ones). I am constantly exposed to people disagreeing with me and calling me queerphobic slurs every day. Don't worry about my openness to opposing ideas. I'll be fine without this one extra place to anonymously bash me, thank you very much.