March 11, 2011

Anonymosity

As a blogger who has always used his real name, despite the sometimes dubious content I post, I applaud Farhad Manjoo's anti-anonymity manifesto on Slate. I agree with him on every point, so I won't say much other than to tell you to read his piece. But I will say that I find the privacy argument especially laughable. We live in a world where privacy as a value, much less a right, has been so thoroughly undermined that it seems silly to offer up as an argument in virtually any context, but as an argument in favor of anonymous comments it's even worse. After all, no one is required to post comments in any online forum. We step into that public role willingly and unnecessarily. If a comment is important enough to post, it's important enough to own up to. When, long ago, Mr. Manjoo worked for Salon, I wrote a post here on Fagistan about an article he wrote that ended with the (only slightly regrettable) invocation, "I hate you, Farhad Manjoo!" This led to a rather interesting series of comments, posts and e-mails between myself at Manjoo that made me quite happy. But even had this not happened, at least Farhad always knew who was slinging the hate!

That being said, Fagistan, defying its reputation as an oppressive and cruel regime, has always allowed anonymous comments. I don't intend to change this (for one thing, my options here are limited mostly to sign-in systems that are easily anonymized) because, while I can't say that anonymity adds all that much to the forum, it doesn't really detract either. For one thing, in my hay-day I drew a couple of hundred views a day, and only a tiny fraction of them commented on anything at all. On those rare occasions when a Big Blog picked up my post, I received a lot more traffic but not a tremendous increase in comments. I'm amazed by the number of people willing to use a name, presumably their own, in posting things about me getting AIDS or having my urethra packed with feces. I also recognize that some of my faithful readers (if there are any left after so long an exile!) prefer a slight bit of anonymity to protect their jobs, and since I consider them part of a community of smart people I enjoy receiving comments from, I prefer to risk the occasional 5,000 word rant about Beth Twitty's plastic surgery to shutting them off altogether.

So keep on posting secretly, even if it makes you a total fuckwad!

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:07 AM

    I'm timid, had my c.v. online and have an unique name---I can be very easily found by any nut, and though I never troll (to my knowledge) I have been threatened online by people who believe I want to take their guns and their wimmins' fetuses.

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