As former Arts&Life Editor, I would frequently dangle free tickets in front of reporters, begging them to attend and review a concert.
Many said they didn’t want to write reviews because they didn’t want to receive negative comments. It caught me off guard at first as to why that would matter.
But then I read the comment section of my latest concert review, a lukewarm depiction of alternative rock band Brand New.
If someone had commented saying they had been at the same concert and really felt passion from the band, that would be one thing. If they said the instrumental mastery is unparalleled or the lead singer touched their hand and made their night, that would be one thing. If they said I didn’t have enough of an understanding of the band’s roots, that would be another thing too. That would be critical, thoughtful analysis fostering discussion.
But these comments aren’t about the band or the performance. They’re about me — or rather, who they think I am.
My relationship status has no bearing when it comes to a critical look at a band’s performance. To suggest such a thing is absurd and childish. If relationship experience was a prerequisite to enjoying music on a personal level, explain the four-year-old girl behind me screaming every lyric at a Justin Bieber concert.
The second comment is altogether ridiculous. My first instinct when I read the incredibly thorough character description was to defend myself. “I’m not that type of girl,” I started to say. But even if I was, it doesn’t matter one bit.
The clothes a person wears, what they do with their bodies, how they exercise, how they love, what they buy, means nothing when it comes to enjoying a band. If a person doesn’t get that, they should do some more living before they log on.
Most appalling is the allusion to an eating disorder. Leave mean comments behind an anonymous screen? Fine. Assume I wear push-up bras? Fine. Assume I’m single? Fine. But when a very real mental and emotional disorder, which 40% of women in college have, is twisted into an insult, I draw the line. It’s insensitive. It’s ignorant. And it’s cruel.
Now serving as Editor in Chief of The Lantern in my final year of college, I hope incoming students do take us up on offers of concert tickets. I hope they write articles and opinion pieces.
My hope isn’t that comment sections become a locked down, monitored thread. I don’t hope all comments are upbeat pats on the back. Comment sections foster a sense of community and hold the staff accountable to serving said community.
I just hope that before a comment is left, there is a pause to think, “Is this serving the better good?” or at the very least, “Is this doing more than just hurting someone?” If the answer is no, please re-evaluate.
Disagree? Write me a letter. I would love to talk this out in a civil manner, without anonymity.