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A reminder about the real person that sits behind each computer screen

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Most of us here remain strangers to one another despite spending a good chunk of time frequenting the same website on the internet. I know little about your lives, for the most part, and you in turn know little about mine. I may know what kind of music you like or what you're watching on television from our Comment of the Day threads, and you might know that I have an affinity for baby penguins and like posting pictures of my dog being cute. We know we pull for the same baseball team and that most of us absolutely can't stand the Red Sox. Beyond that, though, we don't know each other. Not really. Most of us don't know the parts of each other that make us more than just words on a screen.

The anonymity that the internet gives us sometimes emboldens people to be people they aren't normally in real life. It makes people say things and respond to things in ways they'd feel too shamed to if they were face to face with another human being. It's why comment sections run out of control and why policing them is a delicate balance of allowing people to be people and not allowing people to just spout off behind a username at the expense of others. Sometimes we're all quick to judge and quick to resort to insults over rational discussion. It doesn't need to be that way.

One thing I have always required of my writers is that they post under their real names. I don't want our site to be one where we hide behind the cloud of anonymity and say things we'd never say if we had to be held accountable for them. I'll disagree to the death over the National League not using the DH and seasons not being a failure if they don't end in a World Series, but I'll do that with my real name attached to each comment. I think that, if nothing else, makes everyone press pause a little longer before saying something they might regret out of anger, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

Being a woman who is in charge of a male-dominated blog writing about a male-dominated sport has not always been easy. I'm not asking for pity or sympathy for a job I willingly do, just acknowledging that the challenges of this 365-day grind is different for me than for most of my colleagues. People have said some legitimately horrible things to me in my time here, a lot of it aimed at the fact that I am not a man, and I can say it doesn't bother me and try to shrug it off as much as I want but the truth is that it does bother me because I'm a real person with real feelings. I'm someone's daughter and sister and girlfriend, not a robot sitting behind a computer screen who can't process what hurtful words and phrases launched to embarrass, demean, and belittle mean. Presumably, neither are you. The vast majority of you don't need to hear this message because you are real people with real feelings as well. You know that words, as much as we'd like to deny it, do hurt. Insults that are aimed at who I am instead of what I wrote stings. I've never asked for everyone to agree with everything I write or every opinion I have, but I would like to at least feel as though I have the right to have that opinion without being called something derogatory.

My point here is that we are all people. Everyone who writes here and everyone who comments here. Even the people who create accounts to call me awful things are, somewhere deep down, human. It shouldn't be a big ask to press pause before you say something that is only intended to hurt someone else. It shouldn't be too much to ask that we truly target the argument and not the person when we disagree. We're all out here at different places in life and you never know the impact that your words can have, for the better or worse. I don't want to believe that the internet is an inherently awful place. I've met too many great people here that I've grown to truly know and care about as true friends to think that it's all a waste. I know that this post won't change the minds of those who tweet me or comment on my posts in anger because they'd rather call me names than disagree with what I said. I just hope that maybe one person out there reads it and presses pause for one second longer.

Pinstripe Alley has been mostly a haven away from behavior like I've described above, and that is a credit to all of you who police yourselves and other commenters when things cross the line. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making this a place that generally always feels safe to write and comment without the worry of reading comments that can basically ruin your day. There are so many places on the internet, not even far from here, where that is not the case. I also appreciate that I have this platform where I can say things like this and know that the vast majority of you are not people who need to hear it. Someone out there who stumbles upon this might be, though, and I can only hope that one small bit of this will stick with them so that they can try and make other places on the internet more like what we have here.