“Wow. You boys are kind of mean.”

May 22, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 11:02 pm   Category: Bloggernacle

The title of this post is a direct quote from a recent visitor here at the Thang. The observation came in response to a chilly reply I gave to one of her* comments. Of course “Jenny” was right. I often do come across as kind of mean to strangers on the web these days. I don’t know if running a blog for more than five years makes everyone jaded and suspicious about newcomers but it seems to have had that effect on me. I admittedly find myself warily sizing up newcomers and barely being able to hide my sneaking suspicion that this anonymous new visitor is A) an internet troll in disguise, B) a moron, or C) both.

The sad reality for anyone that runs a Mormon blog is that option C) proves to be the case too often. So I find myself a little jaded. How about you? Has blogging made you “kind of mean” and jaded, especially with strangers on the web… yet?

* Her handle was a female name but of course on the internet no one knows…
(See what I mean about being jaded?)


  1. You know, I honestly don’t try to be mean to anyone but I continue finding myself coming across as such so this post speaks to me. I think I have a horrible internet voice that I need to work on. I have found when I argue with people I can say a little over the line.

    But I actually enjoy the above problem as it gives me a chance to smooth out my communication skills. By seeing my words on paper it is more clear to me that I can come across as being too cutting and I can tell it needs improvement.

    By the way, great comic. :)

    Comment by Joseph Smidt — May 23, 2010 @ 12:36 am

  2. Well, I have told by a number of people (including here at NCT) that I become mean and sarcastic on the bloggernacle. I was already jaded.

    Comment by Chris H. — May 23, 2010 @ 5:30 am

  3. I think I get meaner when I feel like someone didn’t really read the op and previous comments, which is hypocritical of me.

    The other time I get mean is when I discuss either sex or politics. So I’ve banned myself from those topics. Actually discussing gender in my survey is coming dangerously close to the line for me.

    Comment by Matt W. — May 23, 2010 @ 8:41 am

  4. I should also add, I am emailing Jenny to apologize.

    Comment by Matt W. — May 23, 2010 @ 8:42 am

  5. Emailing to apologize? Hehe. Seems to my that is like emailing an apology for a run of the mill foul in a pick-up game of basketball.

    Comment by Geoff J — May 23, 2010 @ 8:51 am

  6. Banning myself from politics would be banning myself from blogging. While I am sure most wouldn’t mind if I did go away, I am likely sticking around.

    Comment by Chris H. — May 23, 2010 @ 10:12 am

  7. Chris, if the NCT reference is to me calling you mean, keep in mind that I never said a word to you about it until you said you started being mean as a conscious decision and it made you happier. I’m glad you are sticking around though.

    Geoff, I don’t think blogging has made me meaner. Strangely I have no problem assuming everyone that comments is sincere until they prove otherwise. I am a bit naive in that regard. You always sleuth out the trolls light years ahead of me, but you turn some people away unnecessarily.

    Comment by Jacob J — May 23, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  8. Blogging probably hasn’t really made me meaner either Jacob. Perhaps over time it has just made it harder for me to mask my native surly temperament :-)

    Comment by Geoff J — May 23, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  9. Jacob, no worries. When I said that I was responding to somebody who was mocking me (my guess is I make some people jealous).

    I think Matt W called me to repentance on a T&S thread.

    Blogging doesn’t make me meaner. I just pretend to be nice in the real world.

    NCT is my favorite place for navel-gazing.

    Comment by Chris H. — May 23, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

  10. I’m never mean. I was tempted once by an extremely stupid comment, but instead I just sort of patted the person on the head and let it go. And you’re right, you can never tell.

    Comment by WVS — May 23, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

  11. Blogging has caused me to realize that things that work very well face to face or with people who are not completely self absorbed (such as mirroring) don’t work well, and that there are people who will be obnoxious as long as you let them.


    Comment by Stephen M (ethesis) — May 24, 2010 @ 4:54 am

  12. I was always mean, the internet just allows me to spread it around to strangers.

    Comment by ESO — May 24, 2010 @ 5:42 am

  13. I’m a girl and I’m mean. Jenny shouldn’t be so sexist; she should also look up the first usage of “flame wars.” PS., it was quite awhile ago.

    Comment by djinn — May 24, 2010 @ 6:08 am

  14. I don’t know if blogging has made me meaner, but has made me angrier and more cynical. It’s truly given me this deep seated anger inside. The desire to rip apart moronic commenters is like a wild beast inside me that I have to try to keep tamed. You just get to the point where the number of people who are truly rude and/or lack basic reading comprehension skills start to get to you.

    Comment by Katie M. — May 24, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

  15. Blogging has not made me meaner, I think, but it does make me get exasperated and less tolerant I think.

    I don’t write more mean things, I just think more mean things.

    Comment by Syphax — May 24, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

  16. Katie M.,


    Comment by Geoff J — May 24, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

  17. I think you naturally get into more flaming interactions your first few years on the internet. After that I think it just gets easier to assume, even if artificially, that the other person is pretty nice and that you just need to explain yourself. Then after that period you reach the point where you know it’s all ultimately kind of silly and try to be nice but don’t take much too seriously.

    Comment by Clark — May 24, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

  18. There are certain brands of commenters that I’ve grown to have an itchy trigger finger on. I’m wildly impatient with them.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 25, 2010 @ 8:35 am

  19. As an often moronic commenter, esp. compared to the company of many here, I also appreciate tolerance and being ‘patted on the head’. Yet, I also recognise that being passed over or even criticised is part of the dynamic of being in an anonymous community where you share your opinions on topics where the person who wrote the OP and at least some of the commenters are simply far more knowledgeable than you.

    I think the part of the problem comes from people who are used to SS and are able to make ‘insightful’ comments in that setting and expect to beable to come to the sites like this and do the same thing. The venues are just different and often, though not always, the discussion is a little more informed.

    If people don’t like that and want people to think their smart then they should find somewhere else to talk about stuff?

    Comment by Aaron R. — May 25, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  20. The only difference between here and SS is it is always more difficult to be rudely disagreeable face to face. People are more candid in emails than they are face to face as well.

    Comment by Jerry — May 26, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  21. I suspect, that many people (like i imagine myself, although I could be wrong) are very very kind in face-to-face interactions. The Internet, where the interaction is time-lagged, and where us (we?) humans don’t pick up on the actions signalling distress in our listeners, as they exist only as text–rather than full-blown humans with family, friends, good points and bad–allow a certain of freedom of expression we would never exercise in our “real” non-online lives.

    I think the occasionall flame war is good for the soul. it’s charmingly innocent, as you don’t have to deal with the flamer over, say, sunday dinner. rather, you can vent. I will confess here that I am of British-Scandinavian ancestry. Venting in such a benign way is good for us. Considering the other possibilities.

    Comment by djinn — May 26, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

  22. Of course, i could always go a-viking.

    Comment by djinn — May 26, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

  23. Aaron R, exercising my right to be a mean commenter, I am objecting to you calling yourelf moronic. How dare you. i demand at least three references showing such behavior, or I will just assume you’ve being silly. (I really wanted to use the word ‘moronic’ there but somehow resisted.) You are so wrong about how wrong you are. So there.

    Comment by djinn — May 26, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

  24. I didn’t know you were a girl, djinn. I thought you were a man from Europe.

    I try to be nice to guests, but my memory is so bad I don’t remember who I know.

    Comment by annegb — May 31, 2010 @ 9:31 am

  25. djinn, I accept your challenge.




    This counts as my fourth, because try as I might I could attach the links to words like I wanted.

    Comment by Aaron R. — June 1, 2010 @ 5:39 am

  26. There are certain brands of commenters that I’ve grown to have an itchy trigger finger on. I’m wildly impatient with them.

    Comment by Amy — June 3, 2010 @ 5:59 pm