My significant other has a theory about hate mail.
He doesn’t believe that you’ve made it until you’ve received at least one piece of hate mail.
In his opinion, it’s a measure of success, as it shows that your work has affected at least one person in a powerful, strong way.
Unfortunately, the first piece of hate mail that I ever received came to me as a reader comment on the blog. And then second. And then the third.
And when I first started my blog, I made it a daily ritual to wake up and check my blog comments.
I was always refreshing the screen, hoping to see more readers and in the best case scenario - a blog comment.
Bloggers love comments from readers.
A blog comment is physical proof that someone actually read your article and cares enough about what you have to say, to say something back.
Comments are a big deal!
Blog comments can include really great, validating things and they can also help stimulate conversation, make additional points and add real value to the article originally posted.
So when I first began my blog, I would wake up every morning, hoping for a reader comment.
The Offending Incidents
Then one morning, I woke up with an anonymous message from a commenter threatening my life, my family’s life calling me all sorts of degrading names in the process.
The reader wrote that I was the scum of the earth and the purpose of his message, was to make sure I was aware of that. He actually wrote that.
After reading his comment, I wanted to puke.
My stomach hurt, I felt like I had been kicked in the gut.
Hoping to relieve my feelings of physical pain, I deleted the comment and kept it to myself. I didn’t want to tell anyone about this nasty message - let alone admit it to myself - because so many people were rooting for me and my blog. So I crossed my fingers as a one-time incident and continued to allow reader comments on my blog.
Three weeks passed.
Then, I woke up to another message, but this time, someone new was condemning my family and my entire span of existence in eternity to hell.
While these comments taught me the importance of having tough skin and helped me learn how to 'shake it off' more easily, truth be told, if I'd received these same comments today - there would still be a sting.
I disabled commenters
Those two commenters were the first, but they were not the last of a mix of positive, neutral, negative, derogatory and threatening comments I’ve received on this blog.
I can deal with criticism better these days than I did as an early blogger, but I've disabled comments on the blog primarily because I'd like to preserve the sanctity of my mornings. As simply put as possible - I don’t want to ruin these mornings by waking up to moderate potentially hateful blog comments.
Waking up, I delight to see comments on my Facebook wall, and emails from my clients, students and loving friends and family.
Surprisingly, I don't receive nearly as much 'hate mail' in my email, on Facebook or in one-on-one sessions - because there's an accountability there. On facebook at least, there’s social accountability. When you post something to someone’s wall - your friends and family can see that post - so it’s less likely you, as a commenter, are going to be dropping a line that would cause others to see you in an incriminating light.
So, I interact with readers of this blog mostly on Facebook.
It's streamlined my morning routine, and largely eliminated the dread of I logging-on to my computer each morning.
Simply put, disabling blog comments has improved my life.
POST UPDATE: I've changed my mind. I'm currently doing a blog comment experiment. So, comments are currently allowed!