Running with Scissors: Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Censorship?

Posted at 10:10 AM Nov 06, 2009

By Kiala Kazebee

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At what point does a personal blog become a public one? Some might argue there is no such thing as a personal blog on the internet. These are the same people who think Twitter is for telling the world what you had for lunch. These people hate the future. And fun. Others might say a personal blog becomes public once the content is subsidized in some manner--in other words, when it becomes a part- or full-time job. I am one of these "Others."

If we agree a paid blogging gig is a public thing, then what is the correct amount of censure when it comes to your public blog community? Personally, as long as someone isn't saying something threatening, then I want to leave it up there. The comments section is a place for community discourse, even if that discourse is negative. Trolling is a little different as the point is to attack with ad hominems and turn the attention away from the post and towards the troll. Still, I lean towards the "let people say what they want, the community will take care of itself" attitude, with a little moderation sprinkled here and there to keep things from becoming a Lord of the Flies situation.

In the healthy blogging community, negative comments are deleted, erased as if they never happened. Repressed and controlled like a bad memory. Basically, the comments sections are sterile environments where nothing can grow. Healthy, right?


Reading the comments on these blogs is like attending a positive affirmation seminar. I actually have no idea what a positive affirmation seminar is like, but I have a picture in my head of shiny-faced young people holding hands and smiling while crying on the inside. On the serious, scrolling through these comments is seriously cult-y, what with the TMJ inducing forced cheerfulness and weird sycophantic overtones. And the Kool Aid. I mean NUT BUTTERS.

The whole thing gives me the jabeebees. Yes, I made that word up.

So, how do we feel about this deleting business? If the blogs are truly personal journals then sure, whatever, delete away. Pretend it's all bunnies and kittens and unicorn pee, but once the blog becomes public and sponsored, doesn't the entire thing become little more than an infomercial with a space below to siphon off blog traffic with a link? What do you guys think about it?

And finally, I just found this comment on a post from Carrie @ I See Monsters  (who apparently works on film sets?) which illustrates (to me, at least) what kind of community this has fostered.

"I actually have my name in the credits of Be Kind Rewind despite not really working on it at all. Long story. I've never actually seen the film myself! From the little snippets I've seen, it didn't seem like my cup of tea."

I suppose Carrie would rather have worked on The Lake House or maybe something with Reese Witherspoon. That Michel Gondry is just too weird. Plus, Jack Black is fat, and the fat might have gotten into her cup of tea. 

Comments

jake said:

There is a feminist blog I follow that heavily moderates the comments. The blogger accepts donations, but as far as making a living from it, I'm not so sure that's the case. Regardless, I appreciate the comment moderation because the site has become a safe space for feminists, people of color, members of the LGBT community, and others who are often shouted down and targeted by commenters/trolls. The blog has developed a great sense of community because of it, and positive and productive discussion thrives.

Depending on the site, and its purpose, I'm all for letting the community regulate itself; however, a safe space in the blogosphere is a welcome change of pace.

It's nice to read and comment on blogs about things that are important to me personally without having to read some of the hateful, and occasionally, personal attacks left by others. And sometimes, "Don't feed the trolls" just isn't enough.

BorgQueen said:

I agree with the view that personal attacks and comments that are just hateful, unnecessary and off-topic should just be gotten rid of; there needs to be some semblance of order especially in a popular blog where these types of comments can just clog up the comments section and derail a genuine, intelligent discussion.

The problem I have is when a blogger modifies or deletes comments that conflicts with his/her views. I don't read these "healthy eating" blogs (because to me, there is just something weird and wrong with taking pictures of every piece of food you eat and having people look at/comment on it) but from what I have heard this is a common practice. That is censorship and ultimately, I think that is wrong. Cult-like for sure.

Bottom line, anything you put on the internet is in the public domain. It can be accessed by anyone, anytime, anywhere and probably passed along ad infinitum. Anyone is free to read it, look at it and comment on it and this is a fact that should be understood when putting something out there.

Atomic said:

I think, with some exceptions, that content determines community as much as anything else. If you write edgy content, then the readers you attract are more than likely going to have some edgy things of their own to say.

Paul said:

I actually got banned and had my comments deleted from a separate VVM blog because I pointed out that the author took a bunch of images from Deviant Art authors without crediting them (then after he took no action, contacted the respective authors with the article's link and the email address of the VVM EICs), then later suggested (rudely, I'll admit), that the author try using the break function instead of posting a full article with screenshots and movies on the main page. Also, David Savage can't write worth shit. Just sayin.

What it comes down to is, there is no free speech on forums or their ilk. Sure you can make posts, but the owners can always choose to moderate your comments. Sometimes it's needed because you can't articulate a thought without resorting to Caps Lock abuse and foul language, sometimes they're refusing to acknowledge a viewpoint, sometimes they just don't like you. The good thing is that there is always somewhere else to go to.

In my opinion, for a healthy community a little moderation is necessary. The general attempt at moderation is to take a hammer to the issue though. Some cases, all it would take is an email back to the original submitter explaining why it is that their comment was removed. If they keep it up, drop the banhammer.

But with regards to healthy blogging, can I understand that they'll moderate hard on hurtful comments? Yes, yes I can. The past four months for me have been difficult while I've been losing weight. I did well for two months, plateaued for another two, and if it wasn't for the constant positive encouragement of my friends, I'm not sure if I would have kept at it. Trolling with negative comments through those blogs could be disasterous for the people working to improve their health.

Kiala said:

@paul I hear what you're saying and I sympathize with your situation but the "negative" comments (prior to the new delete delete delete regime) tended towards questioning the healthiness of focusing so much on food and orthorexia in general.

Lauren said:

Funny Kiala. By any chance did you buy your thinking cap in a mall in Orange County, Ca?

Is the reader to understand your response to Paul, as some kind of weird justification for your weak attempt to make a differentiation between any "negative" so called comments you and any of your air head followers, you call in to get defensive on your behalf, and quick to point out argument to your posts, as the work of Trolls?

Your response reads pretty darned Sarah Palin like.

We get it. It's ok for you to question other blogs and posts, but anything coming in as threatening to your own precious posts, you work overtime to persuade the needy and easily swayed, as being the work of Trolls. Is your husband by any chance named Todd?

In other words, you justify your own Troll work simply as "negative" comment.

How do you spell HYPOCRITE? How about, K i a l a ?

Wendy said:

Lauren, are you implying certain posters and bloggers call friends in to intimidate opinion that could threaten the writer's position or even thei ego? Now that you've put it out there, I can say I've suspected what appears to be a growing trend in that possibility. Bowing to peer group pressure.

Pretty hard core, if writers are getting to the point of swaying opinion through dishonest tactics and calling in favors from any possible allies who may not be able to think for themselves. Creepy.

Carlos said:

The writer, Kiala, want readers to believe "Some might argue that there is no such thing as a personal blog on the internet. These are the same people who think Twitter is telling the world what you had for lunch. These people hate the future. And fun."
What Is the author of this piece even trying to say? The rest of her article doesn't make much sense either.

Paul said:

@ Kiala:

It is important to focus on the food. Part of eating healthy is making sure you don't wolf down calories. By using a blog as a diary, you keep track of your daily consumption.

I would like to presume that the people posting their meals aren't posting bread and water or other regular items of low nutritional value. And I'd like to hope that they're not vomiting those meals right back up. And if that's the case, I'm not sure how eating disorders work into it. Honestly, orthorexia nervosa sounds pretty sketchy.

"Do you care more about the virtue of what you eat than the pleasure you receive from eating it?... Does your diet socially isolate you?"

Yeah, and? Seriously, by this standard, all vegans have an eating disorder. And while I may think the vegans are nutjobs, it's not an eating disorder.

"Sufferers demonstrate a strong or uncontrollable desire to eat when feeling nervous, excited, happy or guilty."

Shit, I've been doing that since I was eight. And I assure you a peanut-butter, apple-butter, and ketchup sandwich is not healthy. (I was watching The Gong Show, I was eight, and it made sense at the time.) There are a lot of people who correlate food with emotions. Generally it's junk food. If people are stress munching on carrots instead of a bag full of Peanut Butter M&Ms, I wouldn't really consider that a bad thing.

Symptoms of orthorexia nervosa may include obsession with healthy eating, emaciation, and death by starvation.

If someone is not eating enough to look emaciated, and they eventually die from it, that is generally referred to as anorexia. Really, this thing sounds like a shameless grab for cash and it's kinda sad.

Kiala said:

@carlos What do you think the author is trying to say? Also, look at this ink blot and tell me what you see.

ken said:

hmmm.

i have made it a point to NEVER delete a negative comment on either my blog or my wife's.

i like the fracas, the chaos and tumult, that is the internet. warts and all.

if you can't stand a little trolling and flaming, then you should log off and read a book.

ken said:

and also, what exactly is unhealthy about a "peanut-butter, apple-butter, and ketchup sandwich?"

seriously, protein, fiber, little bit of fat, fruit, veggie? put it on a good piece of whole wheat bread w/o corn syrup and it is far far better than the lunch 90% of america ate today.

Carlos said:

Kiala, you have asked me, what do I think the author is trying to say? I think the author is trying to cover ass with a bunch of limbo hodge podge in hopes it passes as a legitimate attempt. What do I see in your ink blot? I see the writer better put down the scissors before getting cut running away from whatever the author is running away from.
Thank you for your interest in my commenting on this site.

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