Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Brush with Anonymity

I received a Tweet from a new local blogger last week.

@hocorudkus: I’m just a blog. Yes, I’m only a blog. New political blog for HoCo.

If you want to check it out, the most recent post is here. I welcome new blogs in Howard County but I have serious misgivings about writing anonymously.

I have long wished that I could have the ability to include only the reader comments which were submitted under the writers' actual names. My personal experiences lead me to believe that we have a good deal more to learn from people who are willing to stand by their words with their genuine identities. Last week's unpleasantness at the hands of an anonymous letter- writer served only to reinforce that.

Some well-known local bloggers passed through a phase of writing anonymously but eventually thought better of it, or through word of mouth their identities gradually became more of an open secret. There are reasons for wanting to write anonymously but the drawbacks far outweigh them--in my opinion.

This past election cycle an anonymous Twitter account sprang up encouraging us all to share and discuss politics together. There was just one problem. All the politicians and many, if not all, of the general public were operating under their own names, whereas HoCoPollster was not. I felt that this did not make for a level playing field,and I said so.

In the case of HoCoPollster, someone decided to have some fun with the election for their own personal enjoyment, but s/he didn't want to bear the responsibilities of this decision. This entire experience left a bad taste in my mouth. I had friends running for office. This was not some self-indulgent masquerade for them. It was real life.

In an introductory theater class in college, our professor outlined the difference between acting which communicates authentically with an audience, and emoting that makes the actor "feel good." The latter, he announced dismissively, was just "masturbatory theater." This is how I feel about a great deal of what is posted anonymously online.

In the end, it is up to the reader to decide. I have just reached a stage in my life where I believe anonymity does more harm than good.



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