Monday, October 1, 2007
The curse of blog-onymity
There's been a health debate lately about anonymous posts on the Web lately, including a column by Karen Hunter, reader representative for the Courant on Sunday. They're having a problem with racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and downright rudeness on some of their reader forums. I admit to having posted anonymously once myself, for no good reason, but I've come to believe that this on-line anonymity is a refuge of bullies, cowards and ignoramuses.
I noticed it myself, most recently, on Wesleying, the brilliant, student-run blog about the obvious university. There's some exceedingly nasty stuff that gets written behind the shield of anonymity. I suggest all blogs refuse to print anonymous posts so that the a-holes who think they can spew adolescent bile, and think themselves clever, will not have a dumpster to hide in.
I think anonymity should be reserved to protect someone who will be harmed in some way by revealing information that is important for the world to know. For example, bloggers from Myanmar.
I don't agree with Andrew Keen who has written and spoken about how the internet is killing our culture (what culture would that be-- TV, Hollywood movies, reality shows, pop music?), but Karen Hunter's chosen quotes seem to show him to be on the mark where anonymity is concerned.
I'd love to hear from anyone who feels otherwise, and not anonymously.
Andrew Keen, who writes about technology and culture, caught my attention recently with his observations.
"I think the most corrosive thing of today's Internet is anonymity," Keen, author of "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture," told NewsHour Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown.
"That's what's creating such an uncivil world. It's a pre-social contract place. It's a state of nature. We're not behaving ourselves properly on it, very often because we don't reveal who we are. Much of the most uncivil conversation, much of the unpleasantness of the Internet is carried out by people who won't reveal who they are.
"So one beginning, one place to start for all of us is to recognize that we don't need to be anonymous on the Internet. We can reveal who we are. And having revealed who we are, I think the conversation will be more mature, more responsible, and more fruitful for everybody."