What’s a writer without readers? That is to say, if I write a column in the forest and no one is there to post rude comments after it … did I even make a point?
Wired recently predicted the end of online comments sections, as Bloomberg, the Verge, the Daily Beast, and Motherboard have all eliminated the after-article comments features from their sites. I hope The Independent doesn’t follow suit. I often read the comments posted after my columns there to see what kinds of discussions are fueled, and if I’ve missed an important consideration in my thinking. Mostly, though, I find phrases like “giant turds” and “fat chicks” and comments like this one: “This is so stupid I could vomit.”
In the past year alone, anonymous commenters have called me a bitch, boob, creep, and “hysterically hateful feminist.” They’ve publicly speculated as to whether I’m trying to hide a weight problem, whether my marriage is falling apart, and what sort of lousy school system could dole out As to a child as dumb as mine must certainly be.
Even so, Santa Barbara readers named me Best Columnist last week, and I’m honored to pieces. Thank you! In celebration, I’m doling out some awards of my own — to my Best Commenters over the past year.
Most in Need of a Copy Editor
“Starshine is a proud gender bigot (feminst) [sic] who ‘rudders’ her husband and his sons in a town full of traitorous male gender bigots … She’s just a silly SB boob whose [sic] been brainwashed into oblivion by her Twisted Sisters…and is too stubborn, head strong, and closed minded to use her head for more that [sic] pretty decoration.”
Best Equipped to Help Sealion with His [sic]ness
“This is so poorly written I had to make an account just to make a comment about it. Half of the words in this piece don’t even need to be here. Who the hell is approving this stuff?!”
Most Adorable Comment from a First-Time Reader
“You’re letting your politics show with the snotty Donald Trump line. Not a good idea.”
Most Inexplicably Obsessed with My Spouse
After a column about bass players being sexy: “Sounds like she’s single again.”
After a column about things I’ve failed to teach my son: “Curious to learn what lessons his father taught the kid.”
After a column about my husband taking our son to get a tattoo: “Other than obeying when told to get in the Vegas-bound minivan, what did ‘his dad’ think about this major decision?”
After a column on people who keep “Plan B” love interests waiting in the wings: “Sucks to be Starshine’s Plan A.”
The Touché Award for Making a Great Point
Actual Name! Kate Johannesen
After a column insisting that transgender people can’t claim the pronoun “they” as their own: “To me it feels like disapproving of ‘they’ as a gender-neutral singular pronoun replacement is a lot like insisting that nobody end sentences with prepositions or split infinitives. … When it comes to ‘they,’ we’ve been using it this way for years and the younger generations show no signs of stopping, so it’s here to stay. We might as well get used to it. Non-binary people aren’t really your biggest adversary there, anyway.”
Best Explanation of Why I’ve Never Made the Big Time
“I don’t understand the point of this column. It’s not funny like it’s meant to be. It’s just useless, and it illustrates well why you have never made the big time. It’s completely lacking in complexity.”
Reader Who Really Gets Me
“For all U know, she could be a covert member of the moral majorty [sic] posing as a lefty liberal having U all on.”
The Reason I Write
“Thank you for the courage to say what so many of us believe”
Most Delightful Exchange
“I hope y’all realize that this particular column is really creepy.”
“Most of her columns are at least a little bit creepy. That might be why I like them so much”
Starshine Roshell is the author of Broad Assumptions.