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To the Folks Who Write Mean Blog Comments

This is supposed to be funny, people!

Published in ChicagoNow, December 15, 2014 (Cartoon by Marcia Liss)

I almost never read the blog comments at the end of my posts. I did it early on and felt like crying and quitting. How can so many readers not get that I’m trying to be humorous? How can so many of them say such mean things? How can they call me an idiot? Meet me first and then make up your mind.

Seriously, do people have nothing better to do than write hateful things? When I read a blog post I disagree with, I simply stop reading it. No need to get into an online diatribe about what an idiot the writer is. If I waste more than 30 seconds reading it, let alone the time it takes to compose a nasty response, I’m the idiot.

I write about a wide range of stuff – issues related to education, children with special needs, community building, early childhood, parenting, being a grandparent, and all of the stresses of getting by in (almost) 2015. But there seems to be one topic that brings out the wrath of the readers, and it is math.

I’m the first to admit it’s not my strong subject, although I do ironically have a son who has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Harvard. My daughters were also strong math students. I could say it comes from their father, as he is an excellent mathematician. But a tiny part of me thinks I could have been a better math student if I hadn’t been a guinea pig for new math, disliked it, and dropped out of all math-related learning after my junior year of high school.

Whatever. When I write about it now, I’m making fun of myself. Do you get that people? But I’m also trying to make the point that I think aspects of how my grandkids are being taught math these days make me fear they will dislike it as much as I did. My recent piece in Huffington Post that drew so much ire was an effort to point out through humor that sometimes word problems can be interpreted differently, resulting in more than one right answer. And I think it’s important for kids to learn there is often more than one right way to look at most things. We used to call that being tolerant, empathic, and open-minded – all traits that seem to be in short supply these days.

The case in point was a problem that asked third graders to calculate how much money someone needed to buy several items. One part of the problem involved buying 5 light bulbs that came in 4-packs. So, my question was whether my granddaughter was expected to determine the cost of the fifth light bulb and add that to the cost of the 4-pack. Or should she assume she needed to buy a second 4-pack to get the fifth light bulb?

Come on, folks. What’s wrong with my asking? In “real life” I would have to buy another 4-pack to get the fifth bulb. I simply suggested to my granddaughter that there were two ways to look at it. And for this I was blasted.

OK, I’m a math dummy and I’m perpetuating the stereotype that all women dislike math (really?). Apparently, I’m many other things as well, but I stopped after skimming the first few comments. Why did I bother to look at them? Well, there were a lot for what I regarded as a humorous piece. When I’ve written about very serious topics that I think merit thoughtful discussion, I rarely get any comments.

What’s the lesson here for this blogger? Maybe stop writing about math? Now I totally understand the advice I received when I started blogging. Never read the comments of people you don’t know.


by Laurie Levy
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