Rolling Out the Yoga Mat and Creating a Bully-Free Zone

Millennial Media will be banning comments to open up a more compassionate space.

Posted Nov 18, 2013

Incidentally, a few weeks later I posted what came to be a controversial article for the pole dancing community. While somewhat accustomed (or as accustomed as one can be to personal insults riddled with vitriol) to such feedback from past articles, I was struck by one particular thought. As readers hounded me with angry comments, email messages, and tweets in an attempt to get my attention and direct their rage at me, I couldn’t help but think of the increase in incidents of teen cyber bullying and subsequent suicides.

Recently, Popular Science banned comments from its site claiming reader comments can skew consumers’ perceptions of the story. They suggest uncivil and rude comments can lead to polarization and shifting of one’s views of science. Suffice it to say, a topic such as pole dancing by no means falls within the domain of rigorous academic study. However, the inability to discuss feminist issues and women’s empowerment without a biased industry of studio owners and students as well as “rebuttal” articles and comments questioning everything from the author’s own romantic relationship history, to her comfort with sexuality and need to wear heels and objectify herself certainly dampen the spirit.

Some of my fellow colleagues have adopted a similar policy to Popular Science and describe their observations of the drawbacks to comment forums. And while I sassily posted an article previously discussing the psychology of angry comment boards, I am now also adopting a similar policy. Comments will no longer be enabled on my articles. While I have loved the idea of a fair discourse and have attempted to welcome comments from readers from all walks of life, I too, have seen how polarization has significantly skewed the conversation. Furthermore, it makes it far less safe for those disagreeing with the “popular” opinion to express their views which further skew the debate.

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