Monday, March 15, 2010

Who was that masked commentator?

Anonymity, especially on the internet, is not a bad thing.  I enjoy my share of it.  There are numerous settings on our web browsers and web sites to help hide our identity.  There are all kinds of services, software, and extensions that don't let others know what we are doing (to various degrees).  One place anonymity is really annoying, and very much abused, is when commenting on important issues.  In an attempt to promote this wonderful scroll of continuing commentary (the exact opposite of our topic, but that's ok, I'm allowed) I've found some sites that will let you log in to comment on article with your blogger address.  Now, like most of us, I have read numerous news and entertainment pieces online, and usually ignore the comments underneath them.  People spew forth both gushing adoration and venomous bile in those comments section, often with no name but Guest to identify themselves.  No identification, no worries that someone might disprove your theory and make you look bad, or logically tear apart your impassioned argument and trace it back to you.  The Keyboard Kommandos strike from every side of every issue.  There are conservative ones and liberal ones, Christian ones and pagan ones, it is truly a unit that does not discriminate.

So what, you may think.  Big deal if some moonbat accuses the Tea Party of doing nothing but dragging down political discussion by calling them teabaggers and yokels.  That person just looks silly to anyone with a lick of common sense.  The issue is one of accountability.  When we aren't accountable for our actions, the quality of our actions drops.  If no one knows who is speaking, it becomes very easy to say anything, regardless of those statements truth or logic.  Don't believe me?  Go to your favorite newspaper site, or local newscast website or news channel site and find where the comments are.  There is likely all kinds of nastiness being thrown around especially on any slightly divisive issue, all with little or no paper trail to connect those comments to anyone other than a username.  It's not limited to the internet.  The Wichita Eagle has it's Opinion Line, where one or two lines are left on the answering machine and then printed with no name, and based on some of the stuff they print, I can only imagine the comments that are left that don't see print. 

My point is to ask that folks have the personal responsibility to attach your name to your comments.  It doesn't have to be your real name (sometimes that's an easy out if one happens to have a very common name).  It can be the user name you usually use, it can be your email address without the  If you are not willing to sign your name to your comments, that should be a good indicator that maybe a little editing is due.  Our Founding Fathers did not scrawl "Guest" at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence.  They put their names and in effect, their lives on that comment about the state of relations between the American colonies and the British empire.  They were willing to take responsibility for those words.  Words can and should have great power.  When we remove responsibility and accountability from our words, they lose that power.  

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