A couple of posts ago, Book Lady made a comment in the comments section (a thoroughly appropriate place to put a comment I might add) that said this:
P.S. I had to stop by because you were the only commenter brave enough to actually put your name on your comment over at The Rejector. In a sea of anonymous commenters, you stood out. :-)
I thought it was important to post this as another example of my amazing wonderfulness.
And also because it really set me thinking in the last few days.
Everyone knows one of the joys of the internet is the ability to be anonymous. Everyone also knows it is one of its greatest dangers. Who exactly is the person behind the avatar? How can we trust anyone online? People have built relationships based on playing make believe, fall in love with someone they thought was a hoolahoopist and turns out to be a doctor, etc.
And hopefully when we enter the world of the wide web, we take caution, we don't trust completely, we are careful not to give out personal information to just anyone. We are responsible.
I have always been aware of the anonymity and its sinister evilness on the web. Of the extremes of horribleness. But now that I have become more of a participant, not just an observer, in the past few years, I have to say, it is the more subtle moments of anonymity, that have really begun to surprise me.
I exist in a part of the internet that is populated by more of the thoughtful, mature, and intelligent people out there. I am talking about the writing world. I have a lovely group of bloggers with whom I can have a very interesting exchange of ideas, as well as am a member of several very reputable writing forums - where, for example, a newbie will quickly be chastised for using "text speak".
And so I find it all the more upsetting when I read certain blogs by very intelligent professionals, and people in return post extremely nasty defensive comments. Okay, everyone is allowed their opinion, but here's the crux . . . they do it anonymously. And that is just . . . well . . .chicken.
To put it more eloquently, people have stopped taking responsibility for their actions. People are hiding behind the pseudo-anonymity (no one is truly anonymous on the internet as ISP's prove) of the internet to let the basest of emotions take over. You would think in an environment that forces you to write things out, to take the time to put words down, there would be a thoughtfulness associated with it. Not so.
And it isn't like these really strongly opinionated offensive posts (comments) are even helpful to the debate. I have never seen a nasty comment help move a discussion towards any direction other than mud slinging.
What happened to thoughtfulness?
Now some people claim they wish to be anonymous because they don't want the crazies to track them down, fair enough. But it has been my experience that these same people are also the ones who just run off at the mouth, feel free to insult whomever, and then run away as quickly as they can.
There are many reasons I am not anonymous on the internet. One of them being that I am here to try to promote my work, and it would do a great disservice to say, "Go buy my book, I won't tell you what it is called, or what it looks like . . . but you'll figure it out." But another is I knew that by being myself, I would have a responsibility to think before I spoke. To remember that ANYONE can read these blog entries, and that, this may sound cheesy, but I wanted to make sure that my parents would be able to read what I wrote, and I would not feel ashamed.
I have very strong opinions. I also talk loudly, you might not know this as I haven't chatted with many of you in person, but believe me, it's true. And I get carried away emotionally far more than is necessary in a debate. In short, I am far from perfect. No one is perfect, and, my word, EVERYONE makes mistakes.
But these days so few people own up to them. It isn't just the anonymity on the internet, it's the false apologies given by the media: "I'm sorry if this article offended you", or by politicians, "While things have turned out differently, we did what we thought was right at the time".
Heck it is the lack of apologies in general. The admitting you were wrong. We are so focused on feeling good that even when we know we did wrong, we can't admit to it because that moment of, "I'm sorry, I was wrong" is such an icky feeling. Can't we just get over ourselves?
What happened to people taking responsibility for their actions?
At any rate, that is one of the main reasons I do not post anonymously on the internet. It keeps me honest. It keeps me humble (yes humble, sometimes . . .sheesh, I too can be humble!). It keeps me kind. It keeps me embarrassed at times too when I do say the wrong thing, or just put my nose where it doesn't belong.
And it keeps me human.