On quite a number of news sites lately I’ve noticed that when people want to post a derogatory or defamatory comment about an individual in an article or the author of the article, they often tend to childishly hide behind the nomenclature of anonymous.
Typically, anonymous is defined as either an individual who is unknown, or someone who wishes to remain unnamed.
Henceforth, I’d like to apply a third standard meaning to the term: chickenshit. As in too scared to put one’s identity behind one’s beliefs or comments.
Of course, a fourth definition could also be applied: dumbass. As in too stupid to realize anonymity doesn’t truly exist online.
One of the unfortunate side effects of the internet is that it has engendered a culture of unsubstantiated, anonymous public commentary. As a result, too many news site readers believe they have the right to mindlessly spew (and misspell) derogatory drivel about what- or whomsoever happens to be mentioned in a story.
Of course, the bulk of the internet public immediately writes off anonymous posters as the whackos they read to be.
Any reasonable person realizes that the only words that matter are the ones that can be attributed to a recognizable individual. Words that come from the void of anonymity lack merit and smack of fear and self-loathing.
I’ve noticed that a lot anonymous posts tend to be derogatory or defamatory in nature. This is probably why the posters of the comments attempt to hide behind a lack of identity. They realize that they can be formally penalized for stating untruths, half-truths, and purely malicious commentary.
And they further believe that simply by withholding their real name, they’ll be able to avoid any such actions.
The truth is, though, there is no anonymity online. Through a combination of server logs and internet provider records, discovering any individual’s identity is child’s play.
So anonymous posters, don’t be so dumb as to trust in the “Name” field of a web site.
But who enables anonymous posters? Some might blame the media for this behaviour. I would concur, in part.
Some news sites permit open, unverified comments and permit posters to hide behind false identities. I’m not sure why they’d do this. Not only does it question the publication’s journalistic integrity, but it also risks the publisher being drawn into any dispute that might emerge from the publication of such untrue defamatory and derogatory commentary.
Most credible online news sites, however, have mechanisms in place to actively prevent truly anonymous posts. The sites that continue to permit such activity simply lack the skills and knowledge for enabling high-quality comments-based discussions to supplement their stories.
So those amateurish publishers become the clumsy vehicles for the mindless drivel of anonymous commentary.
The next time you think of flippantly lipping off about something and withholding your name, consider your motives. You clearly don’t believe you’re contributing anything useful to the public sphere if you lack the courage to mark your words with your identity. Better to keep your meaningless vehemence to yourself.
What’s more, by marking your post as anonymous, or some other equally lame pseudonym, your words are going to lack all credibility; so what’s the point?
Posting to the comments section of a web page is an important action that builds discourse and community. Flaming the comments section as an unknown commodity is just plain dumb and a waste of everyone’s time and attention.
Anonymous posters, grow up, grow some cojones, and get a life. We’d love to have you maturely engage in the discussion online. But your whole Wizard of Oz act is growing old.