It feels a huge release to confess this, though I suspect I'm already making most people frown. What do you mean, you're not good with Internet comments? You don't like them? You don't know how to give them? Well...yes, and no. To both.
Let me try to explain.
The root issue, I think, is guilt and obligation. I feel like I have to answer comments left on my blog, and Facebook, and @ replies at twitter. I know too that some people expect answers. I know some people feel affronted at silence. And I know that they can't see my face and don't often know my life well enough to get that I didn't answer because I got busy or because fifteen other things took my attention, or whatever, so I know making the effort is important.
But believe it or not, sometimes it isn't even that. Sometimes I honestly just don't know what to say. You'd think that as a professional wordsmith I'd have a ready room full of witty rejoinders, but I don't. Sometimes I get them. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I have a lot to say, but there's some weird block between thought and action. Sometimes I just don't know how to summon the energy to engage. I know that sounds odd--it's just a reply and a quick quip! But sometimes it feels like a mountain.
I think this is because despite appearances, I have stronger introverted tendencies than most people know. I spend most of my days completely isolated and even then it doesn't feel like enough. Some days even the computer is too much engagement, and I happily clean the house or go watch TV or generally do things where all my energy stays internal. Ask me to engage too deeply too long and I will get cranky, waspish, and ultimately burst into tears. (Though I am a social butterfly compared to my husband.)
My other issue is that I never READ comments. I read blogs, yes, but there can be fifty comments there and I still sail on by. About the only time I go read comments is when someone tells me to or it's my own stuff and I get notifications. If there aren't notifications, god save us all, but I likely won't ever go back to refresh. Occasionally a topic will prompt me to speak, but not often. And I do it less and less anymore, I'm noticing.
This feels in a lot of ways like a lame meditation, but man, I've been looking forward to it all week. I like having it out on the table that I'm bad with comments. Not as an excuse, but just as a part of me. Because I'm not going to be able to change it. With effort and coaxing, I can get myself to answer regularly, and I've been trying to do it more often. COP still makes me sweat sometimes, and I worry people are expecting me to say more. But honestly, most of the time I just don't know what to say. In my mind people are interacting with the text, not me. If someone asks a question, I do try to answer, but if it's just a response, to me just nodding and smiling seems enough. I can tack on smileys or whatever, but what about days where I don't feel very smiley? Then I'm back at my small undergrad college, saying hello to everyone in the hall.
Ooh, see, now we're getting somewhere. Because that's the same thing, really, as comments, and I hated that then too. Wartburg College, small, connected campus, and you had to make eye contact, smile, and usually say hi to everyone you didn't pass in a pack. I don't know how this silent rule started, but man, I felt it. And it made me tired by the time I got to class. Comments are the same way to me, and yes, sometimes I refrain from posting because I'm tired--I could post, but not deal with potential comments.
Which is why this does qualify as a meditation after all. Because I do like comments. I like knowing that people care. And I do like interacting most of the time. I like the community that can happen via comments. I don't think my anxiety about comments is bad and should make me feel ashamed, but neither should I wallow in it.
Don't let my confession stop you from commenting. As hopefully is clear, I've been trying to be better about them this week. But at the same time, if you want to remember my comment anxiety for those times when I slip up, when you say something and I never respond, or you ask a question on your blog or in your forum and I say nothing--pretty much always it's not you, it's me, being me. Striving for Zen, and failing.
And if by chance you share my weird comment dilemma, then rest assured that when I come upon your own version of this, I will happily give you an introvert's pass whenever you should need it.