Turn that frown upside down

Spices in Mapusa Market, Goa, India.

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been reading some cooking forums lately for more ideas. I mean I am not a great cook by far, but I enjoy playing in the kitchen and experimenting with new things. The one thing that struck me odd though were comments to shared recipes. I am all for adding your own twist to recipes. I do it, even to prepared foods. But when you come across a recipe you or your family do not like, and if you must reply, just state it nicely and move on. No harm, no foul. Everyone has different tastes.

But I think there is a line a person can cross when they expand on their dislike of something. There was one particular member whose comments were a bit extreme. Not just a little mean, but down right obnoxiously rude. No one is going to like the same spices as another person; it’s a rare event when the forum deals with thousands of members. The comment posted was more of an attack than a reply. The reviewer stated it was not a recipe their family liked, partly because they thought it was too bland. Okay, fair enough, right? It goes on to say they gave it another shot and added spices of their choice to the recipe and it was still bland. After yet a third try, the reviewer goes on to attack the submitter. They wrote how horrible the recipe was and the preparer should never give recipes on the forum again. They accused the submitter of being a horrible cook and their family should not have had to suffer at the hands of someone who was so awful in the kitchen.

I might be slightly off my rocker here, but no where in the post did the person submitting the recipe demand everyone had to make it once, let alone several times. I looked back over the recipe, thinking maybe I failed to notice a lack of spices.

Barbecue Sauce, red peppers, celery, salt & pepper, onion…hmm, how does this not have flavor? I checked the amounts and they were reasonable. Cups, half cups, teaspoons, you know the drill. So why would someone claim it has no taste and then post negative comments? My first thought was the person making the accusations has no taste buds. What other reason could there be? The person admitted to adding more of the spices their family loved and yet it was still bland. I chalked it up to individuality and moved on.

A few more recipes down I noticed another forum member reviewing a dish with similar comments: too bland, you’re a horrible cook, yada yada yada. I scrolled back up to the previous recipe and compared names. It was the same person. Does this particular member make it a habit of bashing recipes? I went to her profile page and clicked on “show all posts”, and sure enough, almost all the replies were the same. Post after post after post “you’re horrible” “I feel sorry for your family” “you’re going to poison them if you continue to cook”. There were pages of posts.

This made me think: where is the line drawn against someone like this. Having my forum, I know there is no “freedom of speech” on a private site. If someone were to post degrading, negative things, it’s my right to delete them. If they were to continue this behavior, as long as I follow my rules set out in the  T&A, I can ban them from the site altogether. Not just their name, but also their IP address. However temporary the relief might be as the member might rejoin under a different name and/or IP address.

I do not understand the thought process a person goes through to decide they WANT to write such horrible, mean-spirited posts. I am not talking about general rants and disapproval, but a person who makes it a point to focus so much of their time and energy on extreme negative behavior. I am almost positive the person did not start out their day thinking “who can I be cruel to today?” I wonder if someone were to give them a hug or a smile if they would have changed their irrational behavior. I’m hoping this person and those who find themselves in the same landslide reach out in their real life, turning their own behavior to something more positive, resulting in a happier place for their online adventures. Not to mention those online who share a common interest with them.

They say smiling automatically makes you feel better. They also say smiles are contagious. Let’s see how many we can catch today!