Those familiar with Australiana are no doubt aware of the term to describe the ritual in which an indigenous Australian heads into the bush alone in order to reconnect with him or herself: "Walkabout."
(Voracious consumers of American television programming may also recognize the word from a famous episode of Lost and Tourism Australia's latest ad campaign. But I digress.)
You may notice that reader comments have not been showing up under posts today. The explanation is this: my two-week trip Down Under offered me the real-life time and spiritual space - a walkabout, if you will - to make an important decision I've been mulling for months: to disable the comments on Jezebel.
Our commenting community is robust and beloved by many, including myself. But I've had the nagging, growing sense that the readership as a whole - and the site's editors - might be better served without the anarchic yet insular echo chamber often on display in the comments every day. Managing the comments is an exhausting, full-time job that takes away from the editors' other work, a job that has also become impossible for our moderator/weekend editor, Hortense, to do as effectively as she'd like. Other blogs have disabled their commenting functions with little fanfare but much success, freeing writers to think out loud and speak their minds without having to worry about personal, nasty and/or other ad hominem attacks and negative energy from anonymous readers and trolls. And although I'm not convinced that the blackout will last forever, for the foreseeable future, the commenting function will cease to exist on Jezebel for the betterment of the larger community.
What this means for you: You can still post public and private messages to one another and your commenter accounts - while not active on the site's posts - are still enabled. Your identities will remain intact. We will still post about reader meetups. As for "reader roundups", they won't exist anymore, but those who want to share respectful reactions to published posts can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org; we'll post reader emails from time to time on the site's homepage.
Although I predict that many will react to this news with surprise, disappointment and anger, I ask that everyone take a moment to consider that, in addition to its editors, this site - although virtual - this site is a living and breathing organism that needs more opportunity for study, growth, self-reflection and reverie. In short, it needs silence.
Keep your eyes on the sun and you will not see the shadows.
Update: click here for more information.