I remember back in the early days of blogging when it seemed (to me) quite brave to raise your head above the parapet and leave a comment on a blog. I mean, who was I to say anything in public about something someone else had written? Who would care what I thought? Obviously once I started my own blog I realised how pathetically grateful bloggers (well, this one at least) were for any kind of response or interaction which proved that people were reading what you’d written. And so I moved from lurking to commenting on a fairly regular basis.
Once social media took off this kind of behaviour became normal, as interaction was the whole point, and also maybe because it involved responding to people with whom you already had some kind of relationship. You knew what you could say and how to behave within the context of a pre-existing relationship. Lurkers still exist: probably only about a quarter of my facebook friends (if that) ever comment on my posts there, while the rest either read but keep silent, or just scroll past me.
But this freedom to respond has another side. As you get the immediate feedback and validation of comment “like”s and other responses, you get a little addicted. Your ego swells a little and you find yourself wanting to comment more and more. Even when perhaps you don’t really have anything interesting to say. What’s more, in my particular case there’s often an instinctive tendency towards snark: the temptation, when you don’t have anything really constructive or substantial to contribute, to simply make some sarcastic or snide joke. It’s a kind of knee-jerk response (which I have christened “snark-jerk”). Trying to be the first one to say something funny or clever (in a superficial way) can often backfire, and while I think that most of the time I manage to walk that fine line without falling on the wrong side, occasionally in my rush to say something witty I’ll end up writing something which could be taken as mean-spirited or rude.
I’m working to reign it in, but please feel free to point it out to me if you feel any slip through the net (he said, mixing his metaphors).