Monday, December 15, 2008

On polite disagreement over the Internet

Let me be clear as I start this post: I've been really psyched by the comments people leave me on this blog! Everyone who's posted something here has been cool and thoughtful, and I haven't had a single spam post offering to enhance the size of my non-existent male anatomy. On the internet, that's pretty dang good.

So I'm not writing this because someone hurt my delicate feelings on this blog. But lately I've noticed several comments on other wedding blogs that are ... less than supportive. Think things that Regina from "Mean Girls" would write in her slam book. Things like, "You're stupid for buying into the David's Bridal 'white dress' fantasy, no wonder you don't like how you look" or "Ugh. Your invitations are lame and cheesy, and I hate cheesy." Tragically, there are many women who prove that John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory holds true for both genders: Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad. (For the original illustration of this equation, visit Penny Arcade.)

To combat this phenomenon (however futile my efforts may be), I hereby present: Bride in Exile's Guide to Polite Disagreement Over the Internet.

So you've encountered a blog post, or comment on a blog post, that horribly offends your sensibilities? You're not alone. And you are almost certainly typing up a witty, scathing response to said post or comment. But before you hit "submit," I humbly suggest you take the following steps:
  • Pretend the person who wrote the blog post or comment is a real person. (This should be easy, since they are real people!)
  • Remember that we all have different tastes and different preferences, and that no one can be reasonably expected to agree with you about absolutely everything.
Then, when composing your comment:
  • Don't type anything you wouldn't say to someone's face. Instead of phrasing what you have to say in the nastiest way possible, think about what you'd say if you were sitting across from this person at a dinner table. Would you really say, "Brown and blue weddings are utterly hideous. Picking those colors shows you have no creativity" to someone in person? (If you would, uh ... I commend your blunt honesty, but don't expect to get invited to many dinner parties.) Often, the best thing to say in situations like this is nothing at all. Just because someone said their colors are brown and blue doesn't mean YOU have to like brown and blue.
  • If you can think of a gentle, polite way to express your disagreement, go for it! Honest, courteous discussion is a great thing. But something along the lines of, "I was uncomfortable with that option for X reason" or "I did Y instead of X, I think it was better because of Z" will get you much further than saying "Ugh, Option X is so cliched and cheesy."
  • If what this person has to say is so offensive that you can't possibly be polite, go ahead and leave your nasty comment ... and then go read something else. Don't be a troll. It just ratchets up your blood pressure and wastes valuable time.
So there we have it -- my advice for politely expressing disagreements of opinion. Not to get all soapboxy, but I think this is a skill we really need more of in the US. To be frank, the last thing that will convince me to vote for John McCain is being told that anyone who votes for Barack Obama clearly doesn't read newspapers. (Actual line said by someone at my grandmother's funeral. Ugh.)

Phew! OK, now to cleanse the palate, here's a gorgeous photo of a short-haired bride I just spotted on

As a short-haired bride myself, I'm always looking for inspiration like this -- I do want to wear a veil during the ceremony, but now I'm super-tempted to find a sparkly comb or hair clip to wear during the reception!


apricot said...

A little comb would be lovely--maybe something with pearls? I think that rhinestone tiaras are a little...well...done, but a comb would look fabu in your brown locks.

Bride in Exile said...

I'm with you on tiaras, Apricot. Way too princessy for me. I like that picture because the comb is so subtle and pretty -- it adds a bit of interest to a short hairdo without going overboard.

Did I tell you about my experiment with growing my hair out for the wedding? Yeah, that lasted all of six weeks before I was back in the salon screaming "cut it off! cut it off!" (A few months later came the Suze Orman Haircut Disaster, but that's a saga for another day. Thank god hair grows back.)

Blablover5 said...

I think it's sort of the nature of the beast that people can just be complete asses and act bigger than they are on the internet because they are anonymous and there is no face to face contact.

No one you can see be hurt by what you say. I am also coming to really have "In my opinon" people hide behind that stupid phrase (or even dumber IMHO acronym) to trash something but then pretend they were being nice by tacking the last bit on.

It bugs me so much I've been tolling with a post on and off. Maybe I should finally get it out of my head. I just have to find a picture of someone's honest opinion. Crap.

Bride in Exile said...

Blablover5, back when I lived in the South, people used to joke that you should run for the hills whenever someone used the phrase "bless her/his heart" because that usually meant something nasty was coming! E.g.,

"Bless her heart, but she's just not that bright, is she?"
"The poor thing, bless his heart, but no one will want to date him until he has a real job!"

Maybe "in my opinion" is the internet version of "bless your heart"? Regardless, it's not a necessary phrase. OF COURSE it's "your opinion," you wrote it!

Mountain Girl said...

Well said. As one mountain girl to another: kudos!

Bride in Exile said...

Thanks, Mountain Girl! :-)

Miss Hot Cocoa said...

Just catching up on my blog reading and wanted to say that you've captured my sentiments perfectly.