Saturday, January 26, 2008

Seductive Anonymity

Let me tell you, I've very much enjoyed reading everyone's comments on this blog. I've learned a lot from them, and have enjoyed the debates that have sprung up. (It's always nice to see people who are impassioned, especially over Torah. )

However, after deliberating for several days, I decided last weekend to disable any further anonymous comments. Basically, the vast majority of comments being left were anonymous, which resulted in the comments section becoming unwieldy. It became difficult for others to reference a given comment when responding, which I felt detracted from the whole "discussion" element of the posts. So I made the said change. However, since then nobody has left any comments! So I assume that people are concerned about being "identifiable" online. And that brings me to an interesting point about the internet.

First, I understand that there is a tremendous divide in the frum community over the internet and its use. And I empathize with both sides of the argument. Because, as a medium of communication, the internet has both good and bad elements to it, like everything else. So, I realize that certain frum individuals may be concerned about the chance, albeit minute, that someone in their given community could find out that the given individual has internet and that their children may consequently encounter problems with getting into yeshiva, shidduchim, and so forth. I have heard many people voice such fears.

However, I hope that people realize that even when leaving anonymous comments, those comments are never truly anonymous. If you know anything about internet protocols, you'll know that anyone can find out who sent what when. EVERYTHING, in other words, is traceable, whether you use a pseudonym, your real name, or select to be "anonymous". Don't believe otherwise.

So in future, if you don't have one already and want to leave a comment, please create a screen name for yourself. It literally takes less than a minute to create one. This way you'll still be "anonymous", but easier to reference with your chosen moniker.

As for ripples in the community based on how the community feels about media, etc.- more on that to come.

Shavua tov!

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree. This feeling of anonymity can often result in people losing their sense of respect, manners and decorum.

    When we are discussing matters in public and disagree with another person, we exercise self control. Why do we not exercise this same self control online?

    Simple. When we know people are watching, even the person we disagree with, we would be embarrassed to act like jerks, and hence maintain proper behavior .. .. well... most of the time.

    But, when we believe no one is watching, no one will know who is typing, we lose this natural and healthy inhibition and let loose.

    This is the very same reason the conservative person logs into a chatroom and becomes a slut. The man can be a girl online, and the woman can be a man. The shy person looses his/her shyness. It is very seductive being able to take on any part and act it out. Like singing in the shower.

    I learned a long time ago, that I will no longer enter an aol chat room ... never again. Not for free, not even if they paid me. A long time ago, pre teshuva, I used to be one of the original AOL members, and "Lived" in the chat rooms.

    When I was in the chat room, I misbehaved. Seriously misbehaved. Oh, I had a new confidence, and new but false sense of self. I was able to say things and flirt in ways which I would never had the guts to in real live. In real life I was very very shy. Online, as Avireb, I could be a playboy, a Lothario. But, then it turned into real life. My entire social life (this is pre teshuva) was based upon those I met on aol. Sure, I met many people, visited many of them in person, attended many wild parties and had a great time. But, I was out of control. The loss of inhibition online extended to my personal life. I look back now and shudder. I thank Hashem with all my heart that I survived those few years.

    I now will not even open an aol account again, let alone go to a chat room. The anonymity is too seductive.

    The same here, and on other blogs. The blogs which allow anonymous posts often get wilder, less respectful and sometimes downright horrible posts. The normally restrained person looses his/her inhibitions and bad behavior is allowed to show its face.

    Better to have a real identity, and know you are responsible for your words online, just as you are responsible for your words, and actions in real life.

    La Poutine, I support your decision. Hurray for common sense.