Lessons from Caray: How NOT to comment

Background

I was a participant and recapper on Caray off and on from 2010 to 2014 and I learned a lot from them. Namely, how NOT to be a jerk.

Don’t get me wrong. I was also guilty of assholery and I have absolutely NO excuse. I was just as big a jackass as anyone, but then I started looking around and paying attention. I didn’t like some of the things I was reading or what I was saying in the name of “fun” and “humor.” Perhaps my comments weren’t over-the-top awful (though I confess to multiple uses of the word “ho”), but it was enough to start me thinking that maybe I was being inconsiderate and not thinking of others’ feelings. I was getting caught up in the idea of comment counts instead of real community.

Ironically being a recapper made me more aware of comments and how they reflected on me (even if it took years for me to notice.)

My recapping philosophy

I know it sounds overblown, but I think every recapper does have a “philosophy” for lack of a better term. Some see it as an exercise in writing. Others as a service to the community of English-only speakers. I think my “philosophy” is a work in progress if truth be told.

I have begun to think of writing a recap as an invitation to a book club for telenovelas. I want my readers (that includes lurkers) to be comfortable, so there may be some house rules. Kat has those clearly stated in the blog policy. If you were invited to a party at a non-smoking home, would you really insist on smoking in the house? Would you stay at a party where some weirdo in the corner keeps randomly shouting about nothing in particular? Wouldn’t you be offended if someone wanted you to play in a sandbox full of turds?

I admit that sometimes in the past it was hard to be a gracious hostess when guests started tearing up the potted plants and peeing on the sculpted hedges on my patio. I decided to ask some guests to leave. Unfortunately, most people prefer the kinds of parties where anything goes. It’s ok though. I prefer a quiet affair, so I moved to a quieter neighborhood.

My Commenting philosophy

Just because I prefer a quieter party doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a good guest. I want to participate in the party in good faith and not be the jerk who gets drunk and pukes on the couch. I am paying a lot more attention to what I say in comments and I try to really read and listen to others. Here are some things I’ve learned as a participant on Caray and on El Cohete. Please note: these are NOT rules for either site. This is just my personal comment checklist so I don’t look like a bigger clod than I am.

Say thank you. It’s a quirk of mine. Kirby even called me a “thank you Nazi.” (In my defense, it was one of Kirby’s frigging sock puppets that got asked to say thank you…so does that even count?)

So yeah, I like to make some acknowledgement that the recap is there. Even the laziest recapper took time out of their day to give me a recap. I should thank them.

Yes:

Thanks! Antonio really was angry today wasn’t he? (See how that’s just a simple thanks? I don’t have to come up with anything flowery, overblown and possible insincere sounding. Just a thanks.)

No:

Haven’t gotten a chance to read the recap, but Antonio was really angry today. (Yes, I’ve actually done this * hangs head in shame * )

Stick to the topic. In the past and even now I sometimes wander off topic. I like chatter, but as a reader I know it sometimes gets annoying wading through it. So nowadays I try NOT to talk about the weather, my sciatica, Lithuanian Kankles or my favorite Labor Day memory. It’s not that I don’t want to be friendly, it’s just…off topic. I try to remember lurkers may just want to read about the show, not my pet cat or the possum that comes and eats cat food on my patio (true story…I’m a cat hoarder AND a possum hoarder!)

Yes:

Thanks! I was a little disappointed we didn’t get to see Angélica sing today, but I’m hoping that we get some singing tomorrow. It was nice to see some romance though! And Maite’s dress! Lovely! (ok, maybe inane, but on topic right?)

No to any of the following:

Thanks! Congrats to Miss Philippines on her Miss Universe title!

OR

Thanks! Your recap gave me fond memories of Great Aunt Myrtle’s Turnip Green cookies (I do actually have a Great Aunt Myrtle QEPD and she did love turnip greens, but to my knowledge Turnip Green cookies do not exist.)

OR

Thanks! Raining cats and dogs here in supposedly sunny SoCal.

Comments like the above feel like “oh, I only came to this party because I heard there would be barbecue…can you whip up some barbecue for me real quick?”

Thank the Virgen Kat has a chat thread. I can chat all I want and not disturb the folks learning Spanish/getting their TV snark on. I highly recommend visiting. I don’t think you have to register to participate, but I do think you have to if you want to be able to start your own topics. If you aren’t comfortable doing that I am willing to bet that Kat would gladly set up a thread for weather, or recipes or whatever (that is if you want a dedicated thread about weather or recipes or whatever.)

Stick to the recap as it’s written. I try not to tell a recapper what they missed (unless they ask for it.)

Yes:

Thanks! * some commentary about action or snark included in the recap *

No:

Thanks! Here’s what you missed….(RUDE…and something I quite possibly have done in the past. * hangs head in shame again *)

The US sometimes gets a different edits. I try not to get mad when people talk about what got edited out (though Kat feels the same pain and doesn’t allow that here). What I don’t know won’t hurt me. I’ve watched lots of edited versions and generally the most important stuff does stay in. Plus I have to confess: If you tell me you are watching online, I will live in fear that your “predictions” are actually spoilers. It’s petty and immature not to trust you, but there you have it…I’m secretly a distrustful asshole.

People have families and feelings. If I wouldn’t want it to be said about someone I love, I don’t say it about the ACTORS behind the CHARACTERS. This is especially important when talking about physical appearance…including plastic surgery. Actors probably feel the have to do that crap to preserve their careers because people are shallow. I don’t want to add to the problem.

I wish I could remember what participant on Caray taught me this because I was so guilty of this kind of commentary for years. So thank you, nameless participant from Quiero Amarte. You taught us all a lesson that day. (Note, we all apologized and stopped using a particular character nickname. No anger, just understanding and peaceful resolution. See how that works?)

Yes:

Thanks! Ugh. Fabiana made me feel all ranty and stabby today.

No:

Thanks! I hate Fabiana and her plastic nose, bee-yotch self. (yeah…probably did this too * hangs head in permanent shame *)

Not ever:

Any iteration of “heh heh BOOBIES”, “S/he got a bad nose job”, “He looks terrible since his plastic surgery” “My god s/he’s gotten fat” “Her voice is so annoying.”

I am human too. If I say something bone-headed or offensive, please please please tell me and explain why. I never want to intentionally hurt someone, but I know that doesn’t make it hurt less. I recognize that and welcome the opportunity to learn. In the climate created by 45, the last thing we need is to stop listening to each other. I promise to listen with the intention of learning and becoming a better person. That’s small scale activism.

Be culturally sensitive. My father was the son of an immigrant and a cultural anthropologist (specifically ethnography of Native Americans of the Southeastern United States) so I was exposed to the idea of cultural sensitivity pretty much from birth.

Just as US shows aren’t a complete or accurate example of US culture, telenovelas aren’t the truest example of the Mexican (or Spanish, or Colombian or Peruvian or..) culture. I try to be sensitive to that and not make blanket statements. Sometimes we are blinded by our cultural lens. It’s human nature, but watching TV from other cultures is a great way to hone our cultural intelligence and empathy.

Yes:

Thanks! Doña Josefa sure is devoted to Blasito.

No:

Thanks! Mexican moms sure go overboard with their devotion.

Don’t be a stranger. I know it’s hard to find time in the day. If it weren’t for having a full time teaching job, I’d probably be on the internet even more. I know, I’m sad. I like to subscribe to threads and get notifications. But a lot of people don’t want emails all day. I participate on many different threads and shows so I can’t subscribe in everywhere, but I try to make a point to go back and check to make sure someone isn’t talking to me. It’s rude to ignore a person who is talking to you. My goal is not to be rude.

So see? You can change after years of questionable comments. Change isn’t always bad.

Author: Sara

I'm a mean, angry threadkiler!

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5ftLatina
Admin

Gracias, Sara 😀 Talk about a walk down memory lane! I may have been a long time coming to it, but at some point it clicked for me that whether you’re talking about a character or an actress, the constant use of “bitch” “slut” “ho” and the level of scrutiny about their bodies was creating a negative atmosphere. We’re talking about women who fit a usually narrow definition of beauty…and then picking at imagined flaws. That doesn’t do anyone’s self-confidence any favors. You’re right, “Here’s what you missed,” makes me flinch. Possibly that’s from having heard it way too many… Read more »

Mena
Visita/ Guest
Mena

Thanks Sara ! You had me laughing at “hanging head in shame again”. Me: Hand on chin tapping index finger on cheek …” oh ya, I remember “…. after moment of head-hanging self-reflection , … breathes sigh of relief that article above is breath of fresh air in renewing commentary courtesy …… Yes learner: “I see now! This will be fun “ Lurker: “Cringe-free zone, I might even join in someday” No way not having it: “ I wanna be clever and this is stomping on my creativity “ Lurker: “Argggh …. SMH …. Click …”

Aleta
Visita/ Guest
Aleta

Thanks, Sara, for your take on this! I haven’t been watching TNs lately, or reading recaps, but the news about Caray! Caray! came across my feed, and brought back memories. I was also one of the guilty parties who was not versed on the website’s custom of thanking the recapper before launching into an opinion. But after I found out, it wasn’t hard to come up with a “Thank you!” or “Great job!” if nothing more creative came to mind. The problem here was Kirby’s reaction to criticism and the personal insults he made. Since all that occurred, I now… Read more »