Anyone who has spent time reading through online comments left on news stories knows that the anonymity such forums provide can bring out the worst in people.
Sometimes, however, comment pages can feel like group therapy, where people who have experienced the same problem gather to share their stories and lend a sympathetic ear.
Such was the case with a recent article that Globe and Mail business reporter Tim Kiladze wrote about quitting his six-figure Bay Street job to become a journalist. In it, he related his personal experience of becoming disillusioned by the corporate banking culture and leaving it for a more fulfilling career.
Something about that confession clicked with Globe readers. The comments section began to fill up with readers' own stories of horrible careers they had left behind.
"I left Bay Street to work for a non-profit," wrote Ginevra da Vinci. "I also got told that I left my desk too often to go to the bathroom! The trigger for me was sitting in a meeting on asset-backed commercial paper and realizing that most of the people had no idea on how it worked but we were all afraid to say so because that would make us appear 'weak.' There's a lot of alpha male bullying in the world of investment banking."
A B.C. doctor commented: "I lasted a year in banking before quitting/washing-out and going into medicine. This was the best professional choice I ever made. Bay Street and Wall Street are rotten -- the author has my respect for his decision."
"I lasted a year at TD. Despite the pay cut, it's definitely the right decision. I quit for a similar reason to Tim. Great article!" said plynchismyidol.
Rickydee1 wrote: "I recall making over mid-six figures on Bay Street but the hours and forcing myself to wake up every morning were killing me so I left it all behind and make high five figures. Quite the adjustment indeed but I so relate to this article."
"I have lived the lie myself so I know how good it feels to live in my truth," wrote Morning Dove. "I worked for the government and the best thing that happened to me was to lose my job and go back to school. There were many rough moments but I would never go back to living in a world where I had to ignore what was going on around me and say nothing.... More people need to speak from their hearts and perhaps we will find solutions that honour life and create a better world than the one we have now."
In his two years as a reporter for Report on Business, Mr. Kiladze has sifted through his share of comments, and admitted he was reluctant at first to see what readers would say about such a personal story.
"Comments are typically the last thing you want to check when you write a personal story, but I couldn't help myself from looking," he said. "There were some negative messages, but the overall tone was resoundingly positive. On top of that, it was very comforting to see readers I've never met sticking up for me to negative commenters by replying to the messages that tried to bash the piece."
In addition to the nearly 600 comments left on his story, Mr. Kiladze said he has also received about 60 e-mails and 26 direct messages on Twitter, all of which he has responded to personally.