I apologise if this appears to be two posts in a row on a similar subject but... well, it's more a post about online manners than anything else.
I have a Flickr account. I use it to post photos. I like photography because it's a creative outlet that has nothing to do with how I make my living. It's just a hobby, no more no less.
Flickr allows people to comment on photos. Occasionally people use that facility to comment on other things. When that happens on my photos I delete the comments. I figure there are loads of ways of getting in touch with me so I keep my flickr pages kind of clean and on-topic: photography.
Today I found the attached comment on one of my photos. It wasn't a provocative photo... it was this one:
It's not a photo that offers an opinion about Christianity or faith. There were no other comments on the photo that related to Christianity or faith. It seems obvious to me that the comment is more than a little out of place.
It's especially ridiculous as at the time it was left the front page of my blog was hosting a really lovely and polite discussion on the nature of Christian Values with 30 to 40 comments and no flaming whatsoever. (Those are the numbers on the blog itself rather than on the facebook page that it's imported to)
I have no idea what he means with the opening sentence. I recognise all the words but they don't add up to a sentence with any understandable message. I'm sure other flickr users would be as confused as I am by the words, "I saw your sign on another fickr stream." Wha?
My favourite line in the comment is, "and never once have we ever shoved Christianity down anyone's throat"... which is just perfect in the middle of a post that seems to be doing exactly that.
Of course, having deleted it I was immediately accused of censoring him and of not being able to handle the truth etc etc etc. I engage in online discussion and debate freely and often. There are loads of ways people can get in touch with me. But there's a time and a place. A comment like this left on a photo like that makes the person leaving the comment the online equivalent of the maddo on the bus who sits down and starts talking to you about Jesus. (Or candy floss, or blisters or anything else for that matter) Deleting the comment - and blocking them - is really just moving to a different seat on the bus.
By the way... I don't want to start a discussion on the merits of his words. I'm just not that interested. I love that the post before this one yielded a polite discussion on a subject that almost always becomes inflamed - especially online. For what it's worth, he seems to me to be behaving in a way that will annoy people of every stripe. If you disagree with him that's obvious. But I think his oafish, shoving-things-down-people's-throats behaviour does a disservice to those who agree with his opinion also... because he just contributes to a negative stereotype that isn't helpful to anyone.
So if you want to leave a comment let's keep it on the subject of online manners rather than the subject raised by the man who had none.
Oh... and I've blurred out his ID so as to avoid anyone seeking him out on flickr. It's not worth it.