Like most bloggers we take a serious interest in your comments. There’s been a lot of positive feedback, thoughtful criticism, and interesting debates. And very occasionally we’ve found the experience…painful.

Mostly though, a large number of your comments (and emails) have inspired us to explore new topics on Therapy Soup. And for that we are grateful.

Perhaps the most powerful experience for us (and maybe other PsychCentral bloggers) is watching how your comments create connections, communities and sometimes conflicts. Often, a blog post  boils down to being a starting point for a conversation between readers.

So, why do you comment online?

In a Yougov.UK Poll last January, people gave a range of reasons:

  • To express my opinion [was a leading answer]
  • Many said that having an online presence gave them a voice, and enabled them to tap into national debate
  • In this vein, some remarked that the internet provides a vital, free forum in which people can express themselves, and share views that they might not otherwise give ‘offline’
  • They also liked the feeling of being able to impart their knowledge and wisdom of experience, in a way that might be helpful to other people, or trigger further discussion
  • Another set of participants said they liked the camaraderie they’d found in discussions. They enjoyed coming across like-minded people, and forging new on- and off-line friendships brought about by shared interests.
  • Many explained that they speak out in reaction to ‘misinformed’ and ‘misguided’ views; when they feel ‘frustrated’; to represent the other side of an argument where they felt a discussion was too one-sided, or to dispel untruths.
  • Speaking from this side of the argument, Davie from Southern England, a MediaLab participant, said: “It is important to allow others to see that you agree or disagree with their views. For evil to exist it only takes good men to stand by and do nothing”, echoing that age-old assertion that “truth” only comes out through discussion; through sensible exchange of beliefs and ideas.

(You can see the original story, here).

So, about those annoying comments, the ones that really get you down—here are some thoughts, which you might consider:

If you think someone’s comments (or emails, Tweets, etc.) are clueless, hostile, annoying, phony, fake, combative, manipulative, dumb, pointless, even ludicrous; remember that the people who write them might believe what they are writing. Accept that they have a different point of view and don’t engage in correcting them if you know it will get you down. Also, they’ve never met you so each new online relationship has to assume a whole lot, such as your gender, age, location, education, and so on.

Or, you can assume they aren’t for real, they are just spouting off stuff they know is nonsense. (They could also be trolls or spammers, by the way, people just trying to sell something.)

The choice is yours. Don’t let anyone, online or off, ruin your day.

Although we’re all for healthy, lasting relationships, online relationships don’t seem to be very lasting. It may be a good idea to end your relationship with them at the click of a mouse or the installation of a spam blocker if necessary.

Of course, someone who pushes your buttons, may not be button-pushing at all to someone who agrees with them. But, if someone is abusive, attacking, or threatening, just end that connection. Safety first.

You can sound off in our POLL about online comments.