What would you do if someone left a disturbing comment on your blog?

Let me clarify: I don’t mean a troll. I don’t mean someone who attacks you, or your post. When I say disturbing I mean more like, they write about how sad they are, or depressed, or how life is just horrible…

So, you write a post, and this person makes a sad comment about their personal life…

Do you write them back?

Do you send them the link to suicide prevention hotline?

Do you go to their blog to see what they write about on their time?

Do you do nothing?

I know I’ve written about this before…the not knowing what one should do…and then I forget about the topic until someone leaves a comment that disturbs me…

And then I sit at my desk, frozen, because I don’t know what my responsibility as a human is to another human…

I got a comment and it seemed as if the writer was so sad…

and I read it over a bunch of times…

It was from someone who had never commented on one of my blogs before…

So I had no connection to the type of person this was…

I looked up their page: they tended to write a bunch of depressing, wistful things…

Was this a person reaching out for help?

I don’t know how to help someone who feels like this…I can get them a phone number, but I am not equipped to guide someone to a better place.

I responded to the comment, some sort of banal response as to looking for the bright side, or talking to someone if they need to, but it was all rather generic information. I didn’t ignore them, nor did I help them. I was suspended in some weird limbo of not knowing how much to step in to help a stranger.

That’s the thing about someone showing you emotion or feelings- it’s not always easy to ascertain what to do. If you see someone in physical distress, it’s easy to call 911- actions are easier to deal with. But how do we deal with words? How do we deal with words when the connection is tenuos…screen names and no real way of knowing how the person really is…

Are we our brother’s keeper?

Does it take a village?

In a world that has gone from real life to virtual, in a world where we speak more to people via chat and messenger, text and email, in a world where we might not ever meet our best friends in person…how do we navigate how people are feeling?

With all the people we come in virtual contact with on the day to day, how do we ascertain when someone really needs our help, and when we should be minding our own business?

Do we help a stranger based solely on his said comments on one blog post?

If someone writes a distressing comment on your blog, or writes a very sad post, what do you do?

92 thoughts on “Does It Take a Village?

  1. That’s a tough one, especially since it is someone new. I think if their bog is full of the same type if stuff you can probably feel good about it just being the way they write. I don’t know how to help if it really does seem like they need immediate help.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yeah…that was my thought too…but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t haunted by thought so whether or not I should intervene. But really, grow much help could I give

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I would probably reach out if it’s someone I’ve seen repeatedly in comments, not just on my blog but others’, too. Someone whose name or a bit of background I know… Drop an email, a text maybe.

    But in a case of a stranger, I honestly feel as stumped as you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My experience, people want to feel like someone is listening to them, that the listener understands, that the speaker wants to be heard and supported. That they have feelings, pain, thoughts, dreams. That every day is a challenge, and some days just taking a breath is difficult. They want to know they can speak their mind or about their feelings and the listener will not be silent, will not spin the conversation around and make it about themselves, that the listener will be attentive. I know, I’ve been a speaker. Yesterday I came across the link below, it has lots of great information on how to be empathetic, how to respond to a person who is reaching out, how not to respond to a person in pain, maybe it can help you help them.

    https://www.wellandgood.com/what-to-say-to-someone-who-lost-loved-one/

    Liked by 6 people

  4. You did the right thing, LA.
    You responded, with kindness. Offering generic support was the right thing to do.
    As other commentators have noted, your kindness might well have brightenened the person’s day.

    Although we, your readers, don’t technically ‘know’ you, we do know that you are empathetic and kind.
    Thanks 🤗🌷🌼

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There are people that I know personally who are natural downers, that is just ingrained in their personality, so it is hard to judge when you don’t know the person. I suffer from depression and I have my up’s and downs. I would appreciate if someone took the time to respond to me when I’m having a down day.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It’s just, what do you say? And I don’t mean I expect you to have an answer, just how do you respond with kindness and not over step?

      Like

      1. I think that someone with depression just need to know that someone cares. People with depression already know that there is a suicide prevention hotline, at least, I do. Sorry, to be preachy.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, how you make us think! Can hardly wait for the lawyers to make some law about how we helped someone online and then our advise made them do… (you fill in the blank). It is touchy-feely- I have had people make bat ass crazy comments on my site. The ones I “know” the regulars, just like an actual friend you have to use your gut feeling. Reach out if it sounds serious. A stranger- nope. Not going to cross that bridge. For all sorts of personal/legal reasons. I think sometimes there are so many people out in the blog world that just want connection (one of the reasons I started blogging) but connection is not to lay it all out there. Every true friendship knows those boundaries and social media should too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh the legal thing…liability. Hasn’t thought of that. It’s funny someone posted on their blog the other day a bunch of quotes/anecdotes they thought were good. One of them was “tell someone the greatest thing you got out of therapy”, I cautioned that as therapy is an individual journey it’s not one size fits all…

      Liked by 2 people

  7. When I’ve read sad posts, I’ve commented with words of kindness, typically to wish them peace of mind. Once, I suggested that the writer may benefit from talking with a therapist, and the writer responded that they already do that on a regular basis. I haven’t had someone reply with a distressing comment to one of my posts. I’d like to think that I’d also try to respond with kindness, perhaps to offer another perspective than the one that they gave, or to (again) wish them peace of mind. I think you’ve got a big heart to ask your followers for advice, since it sounds like this situation is rolling around in your mind.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s totally rolling around my mind, which is why I thought it was worth blogging about. I don’t get these comments often, maybe twice a year, but they always stymie me.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Folks blog anonymously for a reason (or two), but that doesn’t mean they don’t crave connection and interaction. We can’t fix a sad, unhappy person, but we can offer compassion and empathy. Sometimes I think folks just want to be heard and acknowledged. You have a good, kind heart to write about this and reach out to the person. Thanks for caring about others. 🥰

    Liked by 2 people

  9. To me, if someone takes the time to leave the comment, they’re looking for a response. Of course, it could be anything from joining their pity party to a real cry for help. I think the way you at least acknowledged their comment was good. We never really know for certain in these situations what’s the best response. But some response is better than none.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I think it would be more difficult if that person was not a blogger, and you had no way of contacting them. I believe you did the right thing because you don’t know the frame of reference because, as you said, they typically write about these things.

    I’m not sure what they said, but as someone who understands depression, I’d say something like you’re always available to listen and take it from there. I absolutely get how you don’t want to overstep. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. To be fair, it was somewhat in line with the topic I’d written about…I don’t remember what, but I know after reading that it wasn’t a comment from thin air

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Tough one because, really, how involved do you want to get? I mean, what if they started pouring out all their troubles to you? Then where would you take it and how much would it affect you? Interesting, our Tell-It prompt yesterday revolved around “story catching” where you catch someone’s story, listen to it, but then release it so that it doesn’t start to weigh you down. I had a hard time with it because I haven’t found anyone’s story to “catch.”

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I did have that happen once where I was very concerned about a particular person. I wrote her back and we had a private conversation. I tried to help and make some positive suggestions. . However, then the person kept writing me and her comments got weirder. She obviously was not interested in hearing suggestions but trying to veer off in other strange directions. So I looked up several on line counselors on demand etc. I told her I was not a therapist and I thought she would benefit with a professional. It was creepy. Like she was looking for a person to latch onto. Now I’d just make one comment and refer the person to a professional. I think there are some predators out there who play on the kindness of others. Who knows who is actually writing to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. It’s tricky if you don’t know them because you don’t know what level their happiness/sadness usually runs at. Not quite as tricky for me, to be honest, as after supporting a mentally ill friend through fifteen years of troubles I finally had to admit I couldn’t do it any longer and now refuse to get involved.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had a best friend from high school, and I gave up after awhile because it compromised my mental health…but as she passed, I still feel a twinge of guilt occasionally

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Because this is still rolling around in your mind is a good indication you are empathetic towards people (we all knew that). Without offering direct “advice,” you don’t have anything to lose if you choose to respond that you are concerned about them. I like the idea of asking if they are looking for something specific from you or not. That puts the ball in their court and you are not overstepping any boundaries at that point. Referring them to organizations that can provide help is a way to show care and concern without liability. They might have found you because of the tags put on the post. There are a lot of hurting people who reach out in different ways. Do what your conscious tell you and then let it go the you did everything you could, given the circumstance. 💜

    Liked by 4 people

  15. A great question. It depends on the type of sad message; some people may read much more sadness in a comment, than I might, or vice versa. I’ve had some comments on my blog about being sad, depressed, etc.; yet, the tone of the message, as I perceived it, was not alarming. I’ve not had a comment that alarmed me. I think I would offer assistance, even if that’s only in “conversation” back and forth on the blog. Hmmmm. Reflecting….

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Sometimes people just need to be heard, and I think you probably helped just by answering the comment. I wonder if you read the comments on their page and what they were telling that person. It could be that the person is troubled or just likes people to feel sorry for them, they may just like to vent the feelings they can’t or feel they can’t in real life. It’s hard to help someone you don’t know, but then sometimes it’s hard to help someone you do.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. 😮 (Gulp) LA reading the first line several of my over sexed comments came to mind, I take liberties but they’re not disturbing!

    No but seriously, you’re a wise lady, straight talking, opiniated (in a positive way, far from pompous or dogmatic) and thank god sparing us an agony aunt’s glib tips to achieving happiness (mind you a little sex therapy would be fun!)……..Thoughtful common sense is the reason I return each day AND love reading other’s replies so I’m NOT surprised people will write you their cry for help, jeeze LA that’s a responsibility. For what it’s worth, I’d suggest you show empathy and concern and reply the way you would whenever your daughter asked worrying questions.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Honestly, this is a big question. It’s happened once before and I did what you did, but I couldn’t help wishing I could do more. But I wasn’t even sure if this person actually needed help or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. LA, it does sound like you did what you could in the circumstances – it can be a tricky balance. The one time I did reach out to someone in this situation, I received a very terse response. I know it’s not uncommon for people to show more of themselves online than they intend and I’m good at seeing people’s feelings through their spoken & written words, so my ability may have felt intrusive if that person were generally private in nature. The situation hasn’t happened again, so I don’t know if I’d be more reticent on another occasion as a result.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I try to empathize if possible, can I relate to the feelings expressed at all? I’ve been sad, depressed, annoyed, frustrated, grief stricken, homesick, shocked…etc. but if it’s more intense I’d send my love and suggest they reach out to a professional. Really tough question LA, C

    Liked by 2 people

  21. This is tough. I think given the nature of blogging, you did the best you could do by showing that you “heard” the person. I am haunted by something that happened several years ago. I had followed a lady’s blog for several years through ups and downs. It was a very nice blog, often focusing on gratitude. Then something major occurred in her life. She was not specific, but she made it clear that she was devastated and could no longer keep blogging. I did respond but, like you, it was hard to know what to say or to feel that it was enough. I knew her first name and the major city she lived near–not enough to go on to be able to reach out on a personal level. I still pray for her.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s so hard to figure out if someone needs help, or what we should, or should not do. I’m not sure what the line is, when help is welcome or not. It’s one of life’s challenges that are hard to navigate

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m hoping it helped…but in the broader world, how many people are hurting and none really knows? I know I’m going to soon forget about this incident, yet it will happen again. I was hoping someone had a good idea about it

        Like

  22. I noticed it’s not only with strangers/online alone. Often times when we ask people how they’re doing, even those close to us, it’s so normal for people to say they’re okay.
    It gets weird real fast when someone tells you they really are not okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Great post. Would love to share this, if that’s okay with you.

    It’s a hard call especially when the person is not a regular in one’s community. But what if the person is crying out for help?
    I could start by sharing a word, like hope you get/find help or simply wish them peace. If it continues, I might share a link of where to get the needed help. Sometimes it takes one’s help, irrespective of whether or not we’re familiar with the individual, to avert a fatal end. Hope you understand what I mean.
    Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

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