It’s a question that I ask on the forums every now and then, and the answers are always different. I’d love to add the comments to Imagine Magazine this time around.

When it comes to answering questions or comments online, it seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world, right? I mean, we read articles, we read stories, we watch Youtube videos, etc…we consume information and free entertainment on a level that is unprecedented in the eyes of former generations. And yet…when we’re asked to contribute or speak up…we remain silent. It’s almost like there’s this crippling anxiety involved with letting people actually hear what we have to say. But WHY?

If someone were to attempt to take your voice AWAY from you, you’d probably be outraged and you’d fight tooth and nail to shout your feelings and opinions from the highest mountain top! And yet…when given the opportunity to comment on something without restriction or censorship…you hesitate. Why?

If I were to ask you, “Is the sky blue? Or is it purple?” And you read that question…you KNOW the answer. Right? You read that question, and it gets processed in your brain, and you know what you would want to say. I’m asking you, directly, to hear your answer. But…you refuse to answer. Why is that? I do it sometimes too. What’s blocking us from being a part of the conversation? What’s preventing us from giving an answer, or bullying us out of sharing our opinion?

Are we too busy? Are we scared? Are we worried about how other people will view our perspective on a certain topic? Is it laziness? Do we not care? What’s keeping us from taking a minute or two to let people know what’s on our minds? The internet is FULL of trolls who want to complain and rant and rave about meaningless bullshit, but when we’re asked a simple question and are encouraged to give our true thoughts about it…we turtle up into a tight ball and don’t say anything at all. What are we protecting? And what’s so scary about being a visible part of a public conversation?

Have you ever really thought about it? Let me know what you guys think about this!

Hehehe, and yes…I am fully aware of the irony involved when it comes to asking people why they REFUSE to answer questions that they read online…expecting an answer! LOL! BUT…who knows? Maybe this one will bring a few more people out of the shadows. We all take a lot of things for granted without even knowing it sometimes. And if I were to personally block people from saying anything on my site, I’m sure they’d throw a fit. Well, here’s an open invitation to speak your mind. Will you take it? Or will you just read it and move on? Let’s see…

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“For me?

I have to be honest, it’s time.
Online I don’t feel the same pressure to keep my council on issues or ideas nearly as much as I do in the “real world”.
However, that said the problem I always seem to come up against is time.

I’m not sure how it is in the US but here in the UK allot of companies where we work won’t let you use their internet for personal activities. As such I have to rely on using my data allowance on my phone which sadly isn’t that much.
Then after commute at beginning and end of the day, by the time I have done anything else I need to do its time for bed…

In the early days of the Shack I used to be able to go online at work for my own purposes as I had a really nice boss so was also able to chat with Comsie a lot more.

Now every time I think I should drop him a note or get on the forum, the next thing I know a week or so has gone by… I hate that.. and sorry Com!

That said may have some time on my hands soon if the Government makes us all self isolate at home!” – Dom

“Not sure if I understood the question right. But….

I think people might be hyper aware of causing offense, or being misinterpreted. On social media now, if a joke is taken the wrong way, or you even make an indication about your politics or whatnot, some mobs will come for you with pitchforks. And they don’t just tell you to “go fuck yourself,” and be done with it. Some of them take it as their one and only mission to ruin your life anyway they can, online and irl.

I’m firmly on the left, but I have had it from both sides. I got blocked, which made me laugh, by someone who was at the time following me on twitter. And we have very similar views, we even agreed on the subject he blocked me over. But he misinterpreted a comment I made and immediately blocked me. Didn’t even ask me or challenge me, to see if he understood my comment right.

And of course I have been blocked and trolled by the MAGA crowd too. So it’s every sort of group. It seems like people are just searching to be a victim or offended.

And there are genuine things to be victimized or offended by, but much of it is an overreaction online, and sometimes offline too.

And other people are maybe worried about being taken out of context and looking bad. So they hesitate to give their opinion. And sometimes they want to just express a view without being jumped on. Because every time you make a comment online these days, you know someone’s going to contradict everything you had to say in a reply. 😛
(and hey, I am guilty of doing that. I am opinionated, but I always try to make sure they don’t think I am attacking them, rather than just disagreeing).

‘If someone were to attempt to take your voice AWAY from you, you’d probably be outraged and you’d fight tooth and nail to shout your feelings and opinions from the highest mountain top! And yet…when given the opportunity to comment on something without restriction or censorship…you hesitate. Why?’

I think knowing that you have a right to express a point of view, doesn’t mean you always want to express it. It’s just reassuring to know you have that right. It’s like the difference in being bald naturally, without a choice, and choosing to shave your head. I lost my hair, which I hate. But if I still had a full head of hair, I would probably keep it shaved anyway. It’s the fact that I have no choice which really bums me out.” – Mike

We’re all guilty of this to some extent even though we also are victims of it far too often. The most common trend I’ve noticed is the feedback I get from our community when asked directly is that people often feel like their opinion is going to be the “Common” opinion so, they leave it to the next guy to answer. Sure, that’s not the only reason but it is the most common I’ve heard as an excuse. I’m no exception to this. I have so much going on that there will be times that I will read something, agree, disagree, like, dislike… but not feel that I really have anything worth sharing to contribute, so I leave it for the next guy. I mean, SOMEONE will eventually take the time, right?

This coming from someone who helped to build an entire reader sharing community so we could communicate with authors. Designed with the sole purpose to give authors that forum to receive feedback that could help them grow as authors/community members, and benefit from their peers. But receiving direct feedback has always been a luxury that I often tell people to just not expect. Which is a shame. Most people are discouraged when they receive NO feedback. It can often feel like a slap in the face to someone who put hours of their time and effort into freely distributed material to appear as though no one enjoyed or valued that effort. Is that the truth? No. Often many people read and re-read the material and enjoy it. They just move on to the next thing when the enjoyment has been achieved. Consumers, period.

I suppose we could just keep asking people to take a moment of their time to simply say that they liked or disliked something we created and offered freely, but to some, that request sometimes is taken as if the author is asking for money. You know; offer it freely and then stand there with your hand out waiting for a tip like a bell-hop before leaving the room. Funny how something that used to be considered a courtesy in the form of expressing appreciation became a chore or just too much to expect. But you know, the next guy will always do it. Right? *wink*  – JeffsFort

“I think one of my biggest downfalls with commenting on stuff is simple procrastination. I might read a post, or get an email, or enjoy a story online…and I’ll have all of these ideas in my head about what I want to say and how to comment, but I’ll tell myself, “I’ll come back and do it later when I get a chance to type it out clearly.” And, of course…’later’ never happens. I get caught up with other things, and after a while, it’s been so long that I figure, “What’s the point in answering NOW?” You know? So that’s my biggest problem, I think. I try to combat that though, and now I answer and make comments right then and there while I’m thinking about it.

While there are SOME issues where I feel like I should just keep quiet and not really get involved…they are few. I have never once felt bad about having an opinion on just about anything. I just don’t subscribe to ‘black and white’ thinking. If I feel a certain way about a topic, it doesn’t mean that I’m right or wrong, nor is the other person right or wrong. It’s just how I feel, and I have my reasons for feeling that way. And I think I’m intelligent enough to make my point without deliberately attacking somebody else’s point of view. If they take offense…then I’ll apologize, as it wasn’t my intention. But that’s not going to bully me out of having a voice. Speak your truth. Why not?

And if you’re somebody who is deathly afraid of being criticized and attacked for your thoughts and ideas…then maybe you should rethink your thoughts and ideas. “I think we should be able to punch babies in the face and run over harmless bunnies in the street! But I guess that’s not popular to say, huh?” Ummmm…yeah. That’s something you should re-examine when you have a chance. Hehehe!

But, cartoonish examples aside, I think people should be able to share what they think without fear of being attacked. However, I think that people need to use tact and a certain level of social etiquette when expressing those ideas. And if we disagree…then we just disagree. So be it. It’s not a sport. There’s nothing to win, nothing to lose. So SAY SOMETHING already!

There are times when I put stuff off until later, times when I feel I don’t have much to offer in the current conversation, and occasions when I’m just not interested. But when I like something, LOVE something, or have something to offer…I say it. I chime in and let people know what I think. And NOT when it’s just some negative vibe where I want to rant and blow off steam. I support the stuff that I really love and want to see do well too. I congratulate people who are doing good things. I applaud people who have accomplished something great. I wish people well when they’re sick, I give advice and personal experience when I can, and I love sharing a few jokes or songs or touching videos when I can. I mean…what’s stopping me? Seriously…what is holding me back?

Speak up! Talk! Make friends! Let the world know who you are? None of us live forever. So take this opportunity to leave footprints that you can be proud of! It’s all that will be left of you in the end. Make the best of it.” – Comicality

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If you guys ever want to add your two cents to any one of the ‘Q & A’ sessions for future issues of Imagine Magazine, we’d LOVE to hear your input and your personal stories on the forum! Feel free to attach your screen name, or do so anonymously! Drop by “The Shack Out Back” forum on the 1st of every month for a brand new topic of conversation! We look forward to hearing more from you! 🙂


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