Monday, January 15, 2007

Best comment ever

This weekend, a new extended version of the Autism Speaks video Autism Every Day will be screened at the Sundance festival. As a result, the post An alternate view of Autism Every Day - which I wrote last summer in response to the old, briefer version - is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, as people stumble onto it through the magic of Google. Some of the visitors in recent weeks have left comments, but since the post is six months old few regular readers are likely to see them.

Comments are an interesting phenomenon. A blog would be lifeless without them, yet some of them - particularly those left anonymously - can be scary enough to make even the most intrepid of bloggers want to run for cover. The comments I get on this blog aren't usually controversial or inflammatory, perhaps because most of my posts are not controversial or inflammatory. On the contrary, most of the comments I get are helpful, insightful, thoughtful, respectful, and kind. Some of those - often the ones I most appreciate - are comments from people who disagree with something I've written or people who want to offer a different perspective that I haven't considered. Once in a while (rarely, thank goodness) I get a comment that seems inexplicably mean-spirited. I have a hunch that those comments come from people who oppose my affiliation with Autism Hub.

Every now and then I get a comment from someone who disagrees with what they think I've written, but which, in fact, I have not written at all. It's hard to formulate a response to comments like that - first, because my responses tend to sound defensive, and second, because those comments are often left anonymously. I can't follow up through e-mail or by leaving a comment on the writer's own blog. I can only leave a follow-up comment there in the post, with the arrogant assumption that the commenter will check back to see if I've responded. So, I typically don't respond to the commenters who somehow missed my point; I just try to move on.

I've been moving on for the past couple of days from a comment someone left anonymously last weekend on An alternate view of Autism Every Day. The commenter wrote:

Yes, a film about the hardships of rainy days should show nothing but sunny ones. You seem to have missed a simple point. This film isn't meant to highlight the fact that children are a blessing in life because we should know that without question and without being reminded. What the film does show are the things that have been taken from these children as a result of something that shouldn't exist. The average public is not going to be moved to action by pictures of happy people living problem free lives. Your child is wonderful, joyful, and a blessing to the whole world, as are all children. That isn't the part that needs help.

The commenter makes some good points (specifically, that my child is wonderful, joyful, and a blessing to the whole world), and I appreciate that balance to the criticism of my post. The trouble is, of course, that the commenter seems to have missed a simple point - namely, that the post called for balance in the portrayal of life as the parent of a child with autism, not for an artificial view through rose-colored glasses. I thought about trying to compose a response to the comment, but ultimately, I decided to let the original post speak for itself and let readers draw their own conclusions.

I'm glad I did.

Today, another anonymous-ish commenter (using the name "ulyyf") posted a response, which just might be my favorite comment of all time. ulyyf wrote:

"A film about the hardships of rainy days should show *accurate* rainy days.

Rain brings flowers, and crops, and rainbows.

Clouds erase shadows and make the world soft.

Fog and mist make the world a mystery.

Thunder and lightening are the world's best and cheapest entertainment. Thrills and chills, folks!

Colors seem brighter in drizzle - clear and neat, instead of dulled by the constant sunshine.

Who hasn't enjoyed splashing in puddles, or standing with their tongues out to catch raindrops? How can you say that the only part of the rainy day that's worth talking about is the part where your shoes get wet and your hair frizzes?

Sunny days have their virtue too, but also their faults, which are separate from the faults of rainy days. But I do prefer the rainy ones - even outside the bounds of this analogy, and even considering how much I hatehateHATE walking in wet shoes."

Thanks, ulyyf. Thanks for your poetry. Thanks for your truth.

I hope you'll be posting more of both soon.

13 comments:

for what it's worth said...

What an insightful comment/poem. I know the feeling of defensiveness when a comment "attacks" someone on a blog. I sadly do take them very personally, but I am learning to simply say, "press 'next blog' please".
I will follow your links and look forward to some challenging reading.

kristina said...

Am always glad for comments and the ones that have a bit of sting (so to speak) make me think.
----------------------
"Dilemma" is from the ancient Greek words di, "two," and lemma, "premise, thing taken." When you write about life---about the every day---of autism, you do indeed have a dilemma, how to get in all the ugly, bad, etc. and also the kalokagathia. Some might strive to keep these separate----as if the latter are "things to remember" and the former "things to forget." Myself, I like to mix things up; I like to stir the pot, sully the neat-cut strands of noodles with a spoonful of brown sauce, turn up the heat so the flavors meld together and the bits of minced ginger dissolve.
-----------------------

Monika said...

I wonder whether it is very naive to hope that this longer version might be a little more truthful and balanced?

Monika said...

Oops, forgot to mention: I was referring to that "Autism speaks" film, of course.

Susan Senator said...

Actually, I have put comments back onto my blog, but with certain controls.

It is not about disagreeing with me, sting, spice, or any of the more interesting comments you and Kristina mention. It is about personal attacks. The anonymous comments that hurt me were about me personally (my body, my self image) and not about my autism beliefs. Even if they did not get what I said or what I'm about, it still hurts.

I, like you, welcome controversy. I post controversial things. Mom NOS, you do, too. But I do not welcome ad hominem insults.

Kevin said...

I know plenty of people who've totally turned off comments on their blog (but mostly designers) and teh quality of their posting has not been affected.

There's a tendency to think of commenter's as our 'audience' - believe me, they're not. They make up a very small percentage of it :o)

As far as idiots go - meh - who cares? If you wanted to you could implement Haloscan (be careful, it deletes all comments made before it was installed) which allows you to ban commenter's and edit comments.

Susan said...

Hey Mom-Nos,
Off-topic (this relates to the Teletubbies Thanksgiving Massacre) but, I told my husband about your plight and he recommended setting your Google filter (maybe you can do this on other search engines as well) to SafeSearch Filtering. However, I don't know if this will filter out all the other "adult content".

Or has Bud already cracked that code?

Marilyn said...

This seems like a good post to mention that I came across your blog by chance a short time ago (Huzzah for "Next Blog" buttons!) and have been greatly enjoying current posts and looking back over the archives.

Having no children (yet?) and little experience with autism, I haven't had any particulary useful or insightful comments to contribute, but I just wanted to let you know how much I've been enjoying the reading.

Thanks!

MOM-NOS said...

Susan, thanks for the tip! I didn't know about Google filters but we will definitely check it out.

Marilyn, thanks so much for "de-lurking" and popping in with your comment - and thanks for your kind words! Don't be a stranger!

for what it's worth said...

MomNOS,
My ever-loving is a computer engineer. He has a few suggestions for family-friendly security measures. If you'd like, I will ask him to email them to you. Let me know if you're interested.

MOM-NOS said...

FWIW - Yes! I'd love to get suggestions. Thanks so much!

kyra said...

that was beautifully put, ulyyf. truly.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me again!

I didn't know you'd read my comment, I must have missed this post, and now I'm all flattered and all :)

I only found it because I was looking for the *original* post to share with somebody who... well, I'm not going to reach her in regards to her own kid, I think. She wants to be mad at people.

At any rate, I also wanted to comment and say that I always have loved your blog, and if you want to read mine (because I rock?) you can find me at conuly.livejournal.com

And I'm all flattered. *blushes*

Ulyyf