Recently a blog held a contest for the “25 Best Faith Blogs”. Somehow a ton of pagan blogs got on the list, along with a bunch of Christian mom blogs, and a voting war started between the pagan blogs and the Christian ones. It got kind of nasty. The Christians that I saw were trying to stay above the fray, and trying to minister the best they could, but things were dicey, because here were these women who were blogging for basically no other purpose than that they wanted to encourage other moms, and on all their heart-felt posts about motherhood, they were getting slammed in the comments by pagans, who had just found their blogs through the contest.
For many of these Christian moms it was a hard lesson about the internet. Up until then they had flown under the radar, attracting readers who were already Christian, and not really generating negative comments. Now, all of a sudden, they were being attacked for their faith.
I experienced something similar last week. Every week I try to upload a Vlog on my marriage blog that has something to do with marriage. Two weeks ago I uploaded one on what to do when marriage doesn’t meet your expectations. My advice? Remember that marriage is more about holiness than happiness, and instead of expecting your spouse to do all these incredible things, turn to God and ask Him to make you a great wife. Go to Him for your encouragement, and get your eyes off your spouse’s failures. Here it is if you want to see:
Well, the video went by with a few hundred from my blog watching it, when all of a sudden one morning from out of nowhere I had a dozen comments on it, all a variant of “dump the jerk!”, although several used much more colourful language. I deleted them all, but the thumbs down had been hit repeatedly. (If you can go and hit “thumbs up“, I would so appreciate it!).
I asked other friends to go by and thumbs it up, but the two incidents together taught me something.
We can’t be out in social media without being noticed. And sometimes that notice will be very negative.
You can’t stand for truth and not have people lambaste you. So what do you do?
In some cases, it’s better to keep the comments and not worry about it. If you were starting a blog where debate was the main purpose, then by all means, keep the comments. But that’s not what I chose to do, for several reasons:
1. My website is an advertisement
If people see that I’m consistently “thumbed down”, or attacked in the comments–even if they agree with what I write–they’re going to think that I’m not as persuasive or not as professional as they’re looking for. People tend not to like conflict. So be careful!
2. My website is a ministry
People come to my site and click on my links for advice–and godly advice at that. If people are writing things that diametrically oppose what you are saying, then they could be leading a hurting person who has stumbled upon your website in the wrong direction. And that’s why I deleted them.
Anyone who is online has to have a comment policy, and so here are just some thoughts:
1. Consider comment moderation
Most blogging platforms allow comment moderation. If your website is a ministry, then you may not want really bad comments on your blog–or even profane ones. Turning on comment moderation means that you have to click “okay” before a comment is published. It’s more time consuming for you, and it means that people’s comments don’t show up right away. But it’s likely a good idea.
2. On some platforms, turn off comments altogether.
I’m thinking of turning off comments on YouTube, though I haven’t done that yet. There are some platforms where it’s just too easy to be “discovered” by accident by people who don’t agree, and it’s too easy to be put down. So I’m considering turning them off, since the main purpose of my videos is just to minister, not so that people will debate in the comments. The debates happen on Facebook or on my blogs.
3. Allow comments, but respond thoughtfully
Another option is to keep the comments there, but respond appropriately to all of them. This may be seen as the “Christian” way to do it, because you’re answering their questions and doing further ministry. But the problem is that most people who comment never come back to see what you’ve said. Most just leave a negative comment and then are never heard from again, so you’re not really ministering to them. You’re simply giving them a platform for their views.
In some cases, allowing those comments may, indeed, be useful, especially if you can counter them in a loving and logical manner. But in others, the presence of comments is just hurtful.
4. Defriend if necessary
If someone on your Facebook Page is becoming a menace, or someone is constantly attacking you on Twitter, block them. you have the ability, and it’s okay to use it. Just because you’re out there does not mean that others have the right to attack you, or drain your emotional energy. It is YOUR platform. It is YOUR Facebook Page, your blog, your Twitter account. You are not obligated to give them a platform to say what they want to say. They can go make their own blog if they want to do that. So don’t be afraid to block people if you need to!
When you step out in faith and put your words out in the internet, people will at some point criticize you. It’s only natural. People don’t like messages about truth, and honour, and commitment, and dignity, and integrity, and holiness. So don’t take it personally when you are attacked. Just realize it’s part of the job, they did worse to Jesus, and He’ll handle it with you! And put some safeguards into your sites so that they don’t become places where bad advice in the comments is allowed to flourish!
Having difficulty with being attacked? Wrestling through your calling? My keynote address–The Purpose and Adventure of Speaking–can help inspire you.