The phobic blogger

literary phobias

I can’t be alone. In fact, I know I’m not as I have come across a good many others who have the same problem. There isn’t even a name for it, but I would not be surprised to find that there is a high proportion of fellow sufferers within the blogging community.

I am the last person to belittle phobias, which can be as debilitating as they can appear  unreasonable… I need only say ‘spider’ to one of my sons… or ‘wet worms’ and my own version of terror wriggles before my eyes. The present issue may not have an official  name of its own… or at least none that I’d care to admit to… but it sits somewhere between topophobia and deipnophobia, which, roughly translated means somewhere between stage fright and the fear of making after dinner conversation. Except in this case, it relates specifically to making those first steps in conversation with people in the comments section.

I can write till the cows come home, as the saying goes… and sit me down with a cuppa or a nice glass of Burgundy and I can talk all night face to face. I can stand in front of a room full of people or up on a stage and speak off the cuff if I have to. And I enjoy conversations online with people I have come to know… but those first steps in the transition between article and conversation leave me feeling as awkward as a teenager on a first date. Compliments are even harder to answer… yet I’d be lying if I said they didn’t make me smile. It is that stage between writing and the personal touch of friendship where I never know quite what to say.

It is true that when someone leaves a comment on your blog you have little to go on… no smile, no eyes, no body language… and these are usually our first line of enquiry when we meet someone new. You can always nip across to their blog, if they have one, before answering and try to get a feel for them through their writing. I tend to do this, but it doesn’t always work… you can’t learn a huge amount from, say, a recipe or photography blog unless they have a good ‘about’ page.

I do answer all comments… unless WordPress’ notifications let them slip through undetected… even if it is sometimes no more than a ‘thank you’ or a ‘like’. Pages of unanswered comments would seem all wrong to me. But I have to admit that I struggle sometimes with what to say… or I feel awkward and stilted…and as shy as I was as a teen.

I’ve thought about it a lot. Why? I write as I am; most of my posts are written off the cuff and posted with no more than a quick proofing… it isn’t as if I have a persona to maintain. Why, when I could meet you for a coffee and would start by holding out a hand or giving you a hug… why can’t I answer those comments with ease. It’s not as if they really matter… except, there’s the rub, because they do.

If someone has taken the time to leave a pertinent comment, then they have read what has been written. It has touched, moved, amused or evoked a fellow feeling in them and they have taken a step forward with extended hand. They have voluntarily moved from the shadows of being an invisible and anonymous reader into a spotlight that says, ‘this is me’. It is the greatest compliment and the best gift for any writer to know they are being read and evoking a response. When that response is shared on a personal level, there are few things more important. And that’s exactly the point at which I clam up.

Maybe that is the reason why… because they are important. And suddenly, it’s personal.

It matters.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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86 Responses to The phobic blogger

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Agreed. It is ‘social’ media. It demands a back and forth exchange. If I leave comments that are never acknowledged, after a while I will stop contributing. No one likes to waste their time talking to a wall. But your post helps me realize that perhaps they don’t know how to respond, maybe they feel ‘tongue-tied.’ Sometimes I feel like asking, “Why don’t you respond? It feels rude!”
    I find blogging a wonderful way to connect with like-minded folk and it has been rewarding. It can be hard to write as we normally speak, or express ourselves in 3D, written conversation is 1D, and is delayed a bit compared to face to face conversation. I guess that is why emoticons were invented! They help us express better what we are feeling.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. blondieaka says:

    Like you Sue ..I read the about page or a post or two as mostly my comments are spontaneous but when they don’t come easy it helps, a like ..well it shows a lack of care to me and I truly appreciate all the comments I get and if I don’t get a response well ….I am past worrying about that, there are so many lovely people who do respond…..have a lovely day and a Happy New Year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I’m glad of any kind of interaction, knowing that sometimes there is nothing more to say… or not enough time to say it.I don’t mind if I don’t get a response… but I hate to see those sites with reams of silence after the comments. Happy New Year, Lucy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. sknicholls says:

    Of all the blogs I read on a regular basis, yours moves me the most. I’m so proud of your son and what he has accomplished this year. I know you must be, also. And I feel like Ani is in my living room with Captain and Daisy. Your story telling skills amaze me and make me feel as if walked the English countryside and happened into the most charming little cottage with a delightful hostess. I’m an anxiety cyclone when it comes to small talk, public speaking and publishing.

    This has been a trying year for me. I’ve mentioned a bit about it on my blog, but it’s much deeper than I could go into publicly. It’s hampered my comfort zone. Here’s to a fresh perspective for the upcoming new year. Cheers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Thank you, Susan… that means a very great deal to me. And yes… I burst with pride sometimes (a bit messy and occasionally heavy on the tissues 😉 )
      I know that you’ve touched on the anxiety, Susan… you have had a lot on your plate this year too, I recall, even though some of it has barely been mentioned.
      I’ll raise a glass to a new beginning in the new year! x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sure you are far from alone. It really helps if they say more than “Nice post” or “Great picture.” Sometimes, I just react with a smiley when I really have NO idea what to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re so smooth with the words, Sue, but I can see the difference in writing posts and responding to comments. Though it may feel awkward to you, know that every comment is a little gift and much appreciated 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Geetha B says:

    What you write is very true and touching and I am sure many of us might have had our awkward moment wondering what to answer. Usually I just answer spontaneously from the heart and it has happened that I do visit the blog afterwards and might add a second comment after the first.
    Of recent I have experienced that the notifications are not coming properly so some comments are missed. I hope nobody has felt it rude but sometimes I have discovered unanswered comments on my blog by chance after 2-3 days that they were put and quickly answer apologising for not having noticed them. Like you I realise that someone has actually taken the time to communicate their appreciation and it is indeed like an extended hand which it would be a pity to simply ignore.
    You write from the Heart and that is very moving and interesting always for a lot of people. Keep it up, it’s really worthwhile for those who read

    Like

  7. blondeusk says:

    Loved this post 🙂

    Like

  8. I hope I don’t scare you 🙂

    Like

  9. Susan Scott says:

    Yup, a smile is often enough 🙂

    Like

  10. I love your comments, Sue, they are always appropriate and reflect what you mention in your post…that it shows that someone actually read the words and reacted. I’ve never been a fan of the automatic “Like”, but I do understand the need to do so at times. On so many occasions, the comments generated take on a life of their own. It is why I keep blogging. Thank you for your thoughtful contributions. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I use the like button on articles far more than I would like to… simply because I keep up with so many blogs I wouldn’t have time to comment on everything, especially not while I work seven days a week as well as writing and working with the school… even I need to sleep sometimes 🙂 But I value the comments and the connection they bring, and at the very least like to answer the ones on my own site.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. ellenbest24 says:

    Good post Sue . I have a lap top that was bought especially for me to write ( novel in progress) but I haven’t found out how to get emoticons on it. I have little animated things, stickers and faces on my tablet, so consequently I use the tablet more. I feel I can gauge the persons mood by seeing the face she/he adds at the end, and I need to show it too.
    At the moment I am struggling to get people to leave comments, they like n leave which doesn’t work for me, as if you hadn’t guessed… I am a chatterbox. 😇 trying to tell you I am honest.
    Happy new year.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      WordPress doesn’t always know what to do with exotic emoticons, though and you end up with weird little boxes at the end ( yours work fine though 🙂 ) . But I miss my ‘halo’ and my ‘horns’… Usually the horns… 😉
      Happy New Year, Ellen!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Victo Dolore says:

    Oh, I feel the same way! So I will just say, “Ditto!” and leave it at that. 🙂

    Like

  13. Katrina says:

    Great post, Sue, and I’m exactly the same! Have just discovered your blog and will be following it from now on; it’s great to find like-minded people out there 🙂

    Like

  14. barbtaub says:

    Sesquipedalophobia. Says it all.

    Like

  15. trentpmcd says:

    I’m the same. If it’s someone new I usually have no idea what to say even if their comment is pretty simple. It goes the other way too – Usually I have to have read someone’s blog for a while before I can put up even a simple , “that’s nice”.

    Like

  16. Judy Martin says:

    Oh, I agree with you here Sue. Sometimes I read a post that resonates with me and I can’t articulate what I want to say, so it ends up being something like ‘that was lovely’ or some other banality. It is the same when someone comments on something I have written. I know what I want to say, but can’t seem to get it out right! 🙂

    Like

  17. Lorraine says:

    Scriptophobia is on the list twice. I noticed as I’m a former quality control worker in the paperback book printing industry.

    Like

  18. and here I was thinking sesquipedalophobia meant fear of creatures who hopped along on one-and-a-half feet

    Like

  19. Juli says:

    What an excellent post, Sue, thank you. I can say “ditto” to every paragraph and comment, herein and I am now laughing at myself because you have shifted the course of my mind’s daily adventure! 😉

    Like

  20. Deborah says:

    I totally agree with everything in your great post. And I also experience it from the other side as well. Sometimes, when I read something that moves me, I don’t know what to say, especially (like on your blog) when so many others have already commented by the time I get here. This very comment is counter to my usual way of reading and responding. Part of it is because I may have a particular line that was particularly interesting or inspiring, and as I move down to the comment box, I discover one (or more) others have already commented on the very thing I was going to say. And then, I do that crazy thing where I judge their comments to be more eloquent than mine would be anyway.
    So I can really relate to using the like button more than I’d “like,” but I do like it from the standpoint that at least people know I’ve come by. I used to “like” less often thinking it was a tad impersonal, but I do want people to know that I’ve stopped by, even if I don’t have the time or the voice to respond in words.
    One last thing: I’ve been guilty from time to time of not responding to comments in a timely way. I don’t like it, but I understand it. I withdraw when my depression and anxiety get the better of me. And if, in those moments, I manage to post something, I may not have any energy beyond that post. I am trying to be better about it, because I do feel it’s rude not to respond, but sometimes I just don’t know how at a level beyond simply being tongue-tied at the awkwardness. I mean, even people in the day to day see me back away when I’m struggling. In fact, this may be leading to a blog post of my own.
    So thanks for speaking some of the same thoughts I’ve been having and for triggering some additional ideas that need to be explored.
    Best wishes in 2016.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Thanks, Deborah. I can quite relate to that phrase “I judge their comments to be more eloquent than mine would be anyway.” I feel that a lot too… which is daft because if we say what we feel, the way we feel it.. and in our own voices…that is always enough.
      As to your last point, yes, you are quite right…there are times when the comments are just one step too far. My son, brain injured, can only do so much, for example… and I know what depression can be like to claw through to the outside world.I was thinking mainly of those bright, brittle sites where the writer sets themselves up as an authority… and never seems to even read the comments.
      Comments are from people… and that should matter, rather than those who seems to see the number of comments as a trophy and never respond.
      My best wishes for a happy new year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Deborah says:

        Do you know what else bothers me about “those bright, brittle sites”? People who respond with nothing more than “Thanks.” I’d rather just get a like than get something that is so perfunctory (and repetitive right down their line of comments). Somehow, that bothers me more than no response. Sometimes, I wonder whether these bloggers want to dialogue at all or whether they just want to collect accolades. But I guess that’s why we learn when to stop commenting on some blogs. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. 😉

        Like

        • Sue Vincent says:

          There are times when ‘thank you’ is about all you can think of to say… but when you get the feeling it is a cut and paste job, it gets to you a bit.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Deborah says:

            And it’s funny, you really can tell. I don’t mind a genuine thank you. I actually appreciate them a great deal because it means I’ve made a comment that means something to them. But yeah, that cut and paste feeling, that’s what I object to.
            And now, I’m done talking your ear off. I’ll let you know when I do my own post on this topic. 🙂

            Like

  21. noelleg44 says:

    Such truth! Would much rather talk face to face, but as time goes by, you get to know the blogger gradually, through what they write. Sometimes even more personally – I know I will sometimes post something that is not what I might say in ordinary conversation. I see two sides to social media – the impersonal and the very personal!

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Yes, I agree with you there… there are a lot of things I will write that I simply would not be able to find the words for in person, except with a very close and trusted friend… and you can ‘feel’ that in the way people write.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. An interesting and brave post. I find that I answer, or write, comments in different styles. Sometimes it’s a mousy ‘love your photo’ and others it’s a bold comment. I’m bad at being funny, but there is one blog written by a comedic writer that always makes me laugh, and I have no trouble writing funny answers – so her writing releases me in some way. I admire you ability to speak in public, something that terrifies me. I have done it and will have to do it a lot next year, so I am envying you on that front.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I suppose when we are writing, we are talking to ourselves initially. When we comment, we are always in conversation… and different people call up different facets of our personalities. Including the humour… with some people, that light interchange is easy 🙂

      Like

  23. Noah Weiss says:

    I never really considered the art of responding to comments. I enjoyed your candidness about it, as well as the list of phobias.

    I agree with a few of the other commenters with respect to disliking the banality of a “cookie-cutter” Thank You comment. I’d rather they just click the “Like” button in that case!

    Like

  24. You write in an impeccable manner. But, yes, sometimes we do find it difficult to respond accordingly to a comment… I use a smile… actually I use them a lot, just to express the warmth and camaraderie… 🙂

    Like

  25. Sue….simply…..yes. I totally get this.

    Like

  26. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Sue Vincent with a list of literary phobias…. I have sesquipedalophobia.. fear of long words.. especially sesquipedalophobia! Head over and check out the post in full..

    Liked by 1 person

  27. jjspina says:

    I enjoy reading your lovely posts. They truly come from your heart and make me feel as if I am right there listening to you. Would love to sit with you and talk with a nice cup of tea. Hmmm!

    I know what you mean, Sue, about answering posts. They can be difficult to answer when you really don’t know the commenter. Words can sound cold and unfeeling without a face to go with them, a smile, a furrowed brow, twinkling eyes, a pat on the arm or just a knowing look that tells you something about how things are going in your conversation.

    You are doing a commendable job at it, with or without moticons. Lol! Wishing you and your family a happy & properous New Year! Xo ❤️😀

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Thanks, Janice… it is so much easier brandishing a cuppa 🙂 But you do get to know people through their writing. I’m glad I chose to actually read other blogs rather than just sitting here twiddling my thumbs… it could get awfully lonesome 🙂
      Happy new year to you and yours, Janice 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

  28. I love the emoticons. They add a lot to a comment. The emails have a little Santa my daughter just loves. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Like

  29. Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs: and commented:
    Comments I’m usually fine with,Sue, I like a post, find the subject interesting or I can put my point of view. I have trouble even writing personal post (but watch the space for later!) – so much admire all the fascinating stuff other people write – which I tend to take at face value.jx

    Liked by 1 person

  30. dgkaye says:

    Thanks for the list of phobias Sue. And thanks for sharing your honestly. That has always been my belief that if a reader has taken the time to read our words, they are certainly worthy of being acknowledged when leaving a comment. For why else do we write? 🙂

    Like

  31. OneDizzyBee says:

    I relate so much to this post! Writing til the cows come home? A lot easier than I thought, once I started doing it publicly. I still do agonize over comments and answering them (moreso the latter than the former) – but I’m looking my fears in the eye and doing my best to conquer them 🙂

    It helps to know that I’m not the only one, even if that should already be obvious to me!

    Like

  32. socialbridge says:

    Sue, this post has been playing on my mind since I first read it.
    I agree that those first comments can be a bit like awkward first steps in a dance partnership.
    But, they DO matter. You are so right about that.

    Like

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