Archive for ‘Commenting’

March 27, 2011

Anonymous is All of Us

If I had to put my real name with this, would I hit “publish?”

If the answer is no, the better move might be to hit “delete.” – Mark Memmott

More often than not, people don’t consider Memmott’s thought process. They press “post” with no hesitation. The result (far too often) is disparaging, rude, and immature comments on blogs, articles, and YouTube videos. We all know the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” While I still think that aphorism has weight, I’m sure it was said assuming that the comments would be said in the person’s face. There would be a personal element that the Internet has effectively destroyed. Many times you don’t know who is making offhand comments or why. There can be no punishment or condemnation for statements that go unattributed.

For whatever reason, there is something about the Internet (and anonymity especially) that changes people. People develop two different personas – the one they display online and the one in real life. Sometimes, those two aren’t congruent. When you’re on the Internet, you can literally be anything and anybody. There is no authenticity scanner.

For that reason, I think people get bold on the Internet. They develop this confidence that borders on arrogance. They can say whatever they feel regardless of how it affects others. Why? Why not? It’s only the Internet, right? That the Internet is some fake place with fake people with no feelings just isn’t true. I’ve often witnesses forum disputes where users have been mocked for being “butthurt” and have sarcastically quipped, “The Internet is srs business.”

On some level I do think people should take statements from unidentified strangers with a grain of salt, but virtue of being an unidentified stranger doesn’t give anybody the right to be rude. To suddenly forget common courtesy or to believe manners don’t exist online is just false.

What if your name and face was attached to everything you did online?