When I think about potential topics for future posts, I like to read through my co-bloggers’ entries and trending topics from other Catholic sources. After writing my last blog, a few of my friends gave me great suggestions for future posts. I was on a roll—before the blog was even published, I was writing three new ones. And then it went live. And the comments started rolling in.
I am always shocked at the complete lack of Christian charity and consideration for others that so many commenters exhibit on my own and others’ blogs. Many personal pages on the Web are opinion pieces based on the writer’s own thoughts and experiences. If someone disagrees with points I’ve made or conclusions I’ve reached, I certainly have no problem with it. When commenters make personal attacks on an author, I do wonder at their motivation.
In one recent blog, the author wrote how she dealt with specific dating problems before she became a happily married mother. One comment about the relationship? “The dynamics are that he’s wussed out. For now. Eventually, the real him will return, but she’ll be older and probably fatter.”
In my last blog, I mentioned how it’s a good idea to take advantage of being single to make time to travel. One commenter reacted in this rather bizarre way: “When women are busy racking up student loan debt and traveling, how will they ever have time to settle down and have children [?]. They are so busy with their higher education degrees and world travel in their 20s that they are too busy to be interested in potential mates and then by the time they are 30 they are so entrenched in debt that marriage will not be possible.”
In both of these examples, the commenters have assumed the worst. They do not know the authors, and yet they have made very direct personal accusations.
Charity has always been the most elusive virtue for me. It will probably be a lifelong struggle for me to temper my sharp tongue. Words I’ve said in anger or impatience will haunt me for the rest of my life, and I pity my poor confessors.
However, comments on the Internet, and most especially on CatholicMatch, should not be words typed in haste or bitterness. The blogs and forums on CatholicMatch are meant to be non-threatening ways to exchange ideas and start new, like-minded friendships. I can only assume that any Catholic single on the site is looking for a spouse. Why then would an eligible man or woman write a comment that is irrationally aggressive and personally directed at a writer? Those comments can be linked back to a member profile—shouldn’t we all be trying to put our best foot forward? If these commenters think that being unkind will find them a spouse, they are most definitely wrong.
CatholicMatch has put out a booklet on how to navigate online dating, and there is a section on proper etiquette in forums and comments. It is never okay to attack a person directly, but a logical argument against points in a blog is completely acceptable. No one wants to leave the feeling that they are a loose cannon, especially when trying to make a good impression on a prospective spouse.
I’d like to think that all of us on CatholicMatch are in the same boat. We are single practicing Catholics, trying to find a partner to help us get to Heaven. In no way will making negative assumptions about each other help us get to this goal. All of us should try using a little more kindness in our interactions with others, even lowly bloggers. As Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”