Drifting in and out of consciousness (oxfordhacker) wrote,
Drifting in and out of consciousness

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No, comment

I like it when people comment on my journal, but I don't comment much myself, which feels... not hypocritical exactly, but you know what I mean. Partly this is because I read LJ via RSS, which makes commenting that tiny bit less trivial. Mostly it's because I have a tendency to over-think things, and worry that if a comment isn't elegantly pithy, entertaining and original it's not worth posting. In an effort to use my over-analysis for my own good, I'm going to look at some reasons why this isn't true:

What I think: There are already comments saying what I'm thinking. No point in me saying it too...

Why I'm wrong: If a post makes me think 'good luck', 'I'm sorry to hear that', or 'that was hilarious', I'm probably not unique. Come to think of it, if I was, commenting 'lol' amongst the 'deepest sympathy' comments probably would be a bad idea. Normally, though, I doubt anyone's going to think "'Congratulations'? You're the fourth person to say that. Very fuckin' original."

And yet: There are limits. For example, every news post accrues tens of near-identical knee-jerk comments that differ only in the exact number of Hitlers that Six Apart are worse than. While I hold a certain perverse admiration for those who don't just sit back and wait for Godwin's Law to take effect but go out there and make it happen, they do serve as a reminder that there is such a thing as a superfluous comment.

What I think: I hope you won't be surprised to learn that I try to make my journal entertaining. Many of my friendslist do the same (indeed, some were friended for this very reason.) I always feel that this raises the bar for commenting to their journals. "This a hilarious person", I find myself thinking, "They deserve more than a mundane expression of appreciation. That won't impress them at all."

Why I'm wrong: As I mentioned above, people just aren't that picky about supportive comments. In fact, trying to be too clever has the danger of undermining the sincerity of the compliment, seeming more like one-upmanship.

And yet: Sadly, it's hard to express some reactions in text, particularly involuntary ones. Smilies and acronyms are a poor way to convey a wry grin or a fit of giggling. Even in the (medically implausible) scenario in which I actually do laugh so hard that my buttocks detach, no-one's going to believe me without a doctor's certificate. Clearly a certain amount of creativity is necessary to accurately convey one's enjoyment.

What I think: In conversation I have a tendency towards sarcasm and deadpan humour, and a disinclination for foisting my emotions on others. Unfortunately, most comments that I feel moved to make are sincere expressions of some feeling invoked by the post in question. This leaves me concerned that my heart-felt responses will be misinterpreted as cruel witticisms. Conversely, the perils of attempting sarcasm on the internet are well known to any who've attempted it.

Why I'm wrong: My friends aren't stupid or paranoid. I'm sure I can trust myself not to make any major cock-ups and my friends to take any minor ones in the spirit in which they were intended. Hell, the only reason why my real-life friends are still my friends is that they generously interpret my remarks in nicest way possible.

And yet: I should bear in mind that anything I say will probably be read by people other than the journal's writer, and not rely too heavily on the reader making allowances for me. Starting drama on other peoples journals is the height of bad taste...

Apologies for the tiresome introspection. Sad to say, this is actually fairly indicative of my thought processes. I guess, if nothing else, this will make you realise how much painstaking thought had gone into that one time when I commented 'I agree' on your journal.
Tags: commenting, livejournal, metapost
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