Poyer: Let’s talk about comment sections

Columnist Sarah Poyer discusses the impact of positive and negative comment sections on herself and other writers. 

Sarah Poyer

I’ll be the first to admit that I was very nervous when I started writing for the Daily. I knew I would be writing about some controversial topics and was going to ruffle some feathers. I won’t say that was my goal or if it wasn’t. I will tell you that I wanted to share how wonderful my experience in the women’s and gender studies (WGS) department here at Iowa State has been and what I have learned.

I can bet that many who have read my columns had not heard of pink tax or the taxation of tampons or maybe even mansplaining before reading. I hope that my columns inspire you to learn more about the world around you and see how gender impacts your daily life even in ways that you wouldn’t consider it has or does.

I have heard about every joke in the book regarding being a WGS major, ranging from everyone who has heard that it is my major. “What kind of major is that?” “How is that even helpful?” “What a waste.” OK, so you have your opinions, that’s fine; I won’t object to that. But what I will object to is the reaction; WGS is something I am passionate about — as you have previously heard from me in my column. I have also received many comments regarding my columns.

Like I said, I was beyond nervous when starting to write. Seriously. Ask Peyton; she can tell you how many conversations we had to have about this. I was worried that I would receive many negative comments I could not handle and it would throw me off. Well, let’s just say the opposite has happened. I have received plenty of feedback from multiple people on many of my columns. Not all of the feedback has been horrible, which I am incredibly grateful for.

Some of the feedback has been really great. It has given me ideas for other writing projects and helped me do research. I appreciate both kinds of feedback though, because that not-so-nice feedback also propels me to keep working. As you’ll read later, being a WGS major means I catch a lot of flack, but that is OK with me. I am in a position where I can share meaningful information from my classes with others. Which, of course, means I am going to see some doubt, but I really don’t mind it.

Let’s start with some of the good feedback. I have received some really fantastic feedback from professors (you know who you are) this semester. That has been really encouraging. Other great feedback has come from social media; the Daily has Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Columns get published on these social media platforms, which is lovely and gives more people the opportunity to see the hard work done by the Iowa State Daily staff. At the same time, they can all be breeding grounds for negativity; but I have also seen some really fantastic feedback come from them. Thank you to those people!

Now, let’s tackle the not-so-nice comments I have seen. Facebook has done an outstanding job at being a supplier of these; wow. I have seen everything from “Liberals are vermin scum” to some other not-so-nice things. Facebook is not a place where I expect wonderful, groundbreaking discussions to be had, so I am not entirely surprised by not receiving love here.

What shocks me is that people seem to forget I am a person and I am writing about topics near and dear to my heart. The negative comments I receive don’t normally upset me. I read them and get a chuckle, then I move on with my day. Other people reading them are not in that position, so I urge you to be kinder when debating in comment sections. And in all comment sections, not just mine.