Anonymity. There are times it has its place: whistle blowers, political refugees, critics trying to stay under the radar, hilariously crazy Amazon reviews. But as a public relations pro, I’d never post anything on behalf of myself or client without disclosure.
Then there’s privacy. I’m a TripAdvisor – with a handle. I give honest, unbiased reviews, but don’t necessarily want my name attached to my travel history. See also message boards and Internet forums, so many other online activities when we’re decent people, participating in the human condition, talking to each other on all subjects under the sun. I get most of my tech support from Mac and Apple forums that way.
Anonymous Internet Dickwad: Fact, not Theory
The Karen Klein story with its viral video* of the school bus monitor and crowdshare fundraising on her behalf continues to make news.
While reports of students bullying teachers may not be uncommon, what is uncommon these days: adult supervision, discipline, respect, [bleeping] responsibiltity, basic courtesy we’ve had since we dropped Neanderthal from our middle names.
We – most of us – wouldn’t walk up to a total stranger, call them names, threaten them, mock their clothes or jobs as part of some sick blood sport. But online?
“If you don’t have anything nice to say.. come sit by me.”
I’m fine with not liking a thing and saying so: you don’t care for this movie, think so-and-so is the worst TV character ever, don’t agree with that political position, can’t believe what some celebs wear on the red carpet.
But wishing ill on someone? Going after the person, not the issue?
I may think Kristen Stewart is a dreadful actress — but I’d never waste my time with some web campaign against her. Certainly wouldn’t wish her physical or emotional harm. It’d never occur to me to write or post or tweet anything other than – “Snow White was OK… but Stewart needs acting lessons, maybe eat a burger once in a while.” But then, I’m not much of a troll.
What is it about hiding behind a keyboard or cell phone that turns people into jerks?!
Reading the Carnival UnBlog, John Heald’s rant on trolls it occurred to me that:
- They should adopt stronger comment policies/spam blockers to prevent anonymous jerks from posting porn on their FB page (seriously?) or hate comments against his kids (WTH?!) on the blog; and
- Google+ has a point, requiring real names.
If you want to restore some civility to online discourse, what better way to make someone accountable than unmasking them? Never mind you get a more accurate data of users – no more fake Facebook friends whose parents oddly chose the name “Puppies are Cute” – requiring real names you get real people, being genuinely social, for better or worse.
Anonymity or Transparency?
Per my comment policy, I block anonymous comments and keywords-as-names. But I see purpose in having ‘secret’ profiles for some online activity.
I’ve read many a post on the pros and cons of online anonymity, don’t have an answer. You?
*On my wish list: the video of these kids’ punishment, no cell phones or Facebook or allowance, not to mention the hours of community service and volunteering they should be doing. Brats. My parents would have made me clean her house, mow her yard, wash her car – all summer.