Saturday, November 24, 2007

Internet Anonymity Destructive?

Back in October, I read a post written by Dennis Prager at which discussed his opinion that Internet Anonymity is as Destructive as Internet Porn.

Personally, I think that internet porn is far more destructive and harmful to our society. However, I get Mr. Prager's point that allowing anonymous comments can also be considered quite destructive; especially when the vitriol starts flying.

He makes several good points in his article.

For example:

1. Until the Internet, in the public's best known venue for self-expression -- letters to the editor published in newspapers and magazines -- people either expressed themselves in a civilized manner or they were not published. And overwhelmingly, even those letters that were not published were written in a respectful manner because the letter-writers had to reveal their real names and their addresses (though only names and cities were published).

Being identifiable breeds responsibility; anonymity breeds irresponsibility.

Before my blogging days, I used to write two, 200 word letters-to-the-editor and submit them to our local newspaper. Every Friday, the paper provided a "faith and values" letter section. I always lamented the fact that I was limited both in content and number of times I could submit a published letter. When blogging came along, it gave ordinary people like me a forum to write posts and content as often as I wanted to. My letter writing days seem so pass'e now, in comparison.

2. The Internet practice of giving everyone the ability to express himself anonymously for millions to read has debased public discourse. Cursing, ad hominem attacks and/or the utter absence of logic characterize a large percentage of many websites' "comments" sections. And because people tend to do what society says it is OK to do, many people, especially younger people, are coming to view such primitive forms of self-expression as acceptable.

Some might argue that anonymity enables people to more freely express their thoughts. But this is not true. Anonymity only enables people to more freely express their feelings. Anonymity values feelings over thought, and immediate expression over thoughtful reflection.

This is certainly a concern. The "flower children" of the 60's and 70's baby boom generation (now known as liberal left loonies) and the young people of today's generation who have been indoctrinated by them in schools and colleges are often found to be much more crass wherever and whenever anonymous comments are allowed in a forum. Just check out The Daily Kos. It was recently outed as a hate website.

My comment over at TownHall dealt with both of these concerns.

Christinewjc writes: Monday, October, 29, 2007 10:26 AM
Dennis' idea makes sense
I think that Dennis' idea makes a lot of sense. It is each individual blog owner's choice to allow or disallow anonymous comments at his/her own blog.

I don't see disallowing anonymous comments as a free speech issue. I see it as common sense. In any other form of communication, a person does not have to allow the conversation to continue if an individual is being foul-mouthed or offensive. Free speech does allow the right to "freedom of association" as well.

Personally, I have learned over the past 3 years of blogging at my own TalkWisdom blog (as well as at the blogs of internet friends) that anonymous commenters do not usually add much to the conversation regarding the original blogpost topic. Many only post to disparage or debase what is being discussed. If a commenter is not willing to at least share his/her screen name and register with a legitimate email, then their views are probably not worth reading anyway. That's just the way it is!

Secondly, they are usually trolls who object to what has been written, but don't have the guts to attach their internet "signature," so to speak, to their comments. This way, if they make absolute fools of themselves via their own written words, it dissipates into blogosphere oblivion.

When someone registers at a blog and then writes something stupid, offensive, mean, ugly, debased or even threatening and does not have the ability to erase it later, then they are stuck with their ignorance forever being broadcast to the entire world. That is certainly to their detriment.

There are over 128 comments posted at the original article link with differing opinions on this. What's your opinion?


Christinewjc said...


Just reading through my emails this morning brought me to a perfect example of the differences between commenters who are willing to identify themselves and those who are not!

Take a guess which comments are posted by the liberal:

Lessons in Holiday Dining with Liberals

Susan Smith said...

Dear Christine:

Those who hide their identity are usually living in darkness.

The Lord has enabled me to be transparent with my testimony of His delivering me from homosexuality and drunkenness. I am not ashamed. Praise His Name.

I am thankful. Happy Holiday my dear "little" sister. (ss)

Neil said...

Excellent points, Christine. This isn't a freedom of speech issue. The gov't isn't censoring anyone. It truly is freedom of association. I like hearing different viewpoints, but I don't spend my free time around obnoxious, hostile people in person so why should I do so online?

Jaded said...

I don't see any need to be fully public with my identity. As you know, I've been threatened via my blog, and I see no need to draw a map to myself for any whacko who happens to wander onto my blog. I have a 5 year old child with a disability to consider. It's not just my identity I'm protecting, but hers as well. Would I express myself as freely if my name happened to be attached to my blog? Probably not. It's not that I'm ashamed or afraid of what I've said, and it's not that I'm living in the darkness rather than the light. It's simply because I run a business, and my political/religious beliefs and my personal life are not the business of any of my students. There has to be a line drawn, so I draw it.

There are those people with whom I've felt a connection or an affinity via my blog, and I've given my name and contact info to those people, you included. My husband reads my blog. My friends read my blog. I don't say anything there that I haven't or wouldn't have said to those people. I just don't feel it's necessary to broadcast my personal life to my clients, and I don't feel like I need to make it easier for any freak to find me and my daughter. I don't allow anonymous comments because I've been threatened in the past since I dared to disagree with someone's views.

I don't see anything wrong with protecting my identity, and that of my child, my husband, my clients and my husband's place of employment. The things I say on my blog are things I have said to my friends and family, but not things I discuss with my clients. I don't think of it as hiding, but rather, as being cautious. What's wrong with that?

Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan,

What a blessing you are to all who read here. Seeing a loving person like you sharing your testimony of deliverance through Christ our Lord should make everyone sit up and take notice of His Great Name!

Jesus takes our sin away and releases us from all bondage. He takes our shame away and buries it in the grave. He rose from the dead and showed us that He is who He says He is! Our Messiah whose name shall evermore be praised!

Love to you-

Christinewjc said...

Hi Neil,

I agree! I find obnoxious and hostile people exhausting! There are far better things to do with our time!

You have a lot of people challenging you at your blog. I think that you do an excellent job countering their different viewpoints. But I don't blame you one bit for not getting into blogging battles with those whose goal is to come by just to attack your character. That's what usually happens when opponents can't counter the truth that you share.

Christinewjc said...

Dear Jaded,

Sweetie...there is nothing wrong with anything that you shared in your comment.

Besides, I don't think that Mr. Prager was talking about people who use screen names. He was referring to totally anonymous commenters (when and where a blog allows them) who do not need to sign up with a valid email and don't use a consistent, identifiable screen name.

I don't blame you one bit for protecting your identity the way that you do. Sometimes I think that I shouldn't have started blogging by using part of my real name as my screen name. But, in my case, my name had been "out there" for several years now. All I can do now is keep the situation bathed in prayer and trust in God's protection!

Christinewjc said...

Just noticed an intriguing blog title over at LGF. I decided to go over and read it. You must read about this sneaky new method to fool people into believing that their comments are visible to all...when in actuality, they can be deleted by the editors yet still visible only to the original commenter!

But they have now been found out by Charles at LGF!

What SNEAKY LEAKY LOSERS they are...those San Fransicko Creeps!!! ha ha!! How embarrassing for them!

Sneaky Comment Trick Proof of Concept.

Leave it to liberal left loonie newspaper editors to censor only those public comments that they don't such a sneaky way!!

Christinewjc said...

This blogpost goes into more detail about The Chronicle deceiving it's commenters.

Conclusion at "Investigate the Media" blog:

So the end result is that the only person who can see a deleted comment is the person who originally made that comment. To everyone else in the world -- the comment is gone, deleted, non-existent. And the only conceivable purpose for this is to trick commenters into not knowing their comments had been deleted.

What do you think about this?

Christinewjc said...

Just one more good reason to avoid viewing porn sites

Matt W. said...

On my Blog I allow anonymous comments, but I moderate my comments, so any offensive comments get weeded out. Of course, I have a very loyal readership of around 4, so, at this point it's pretty much a non-issue.