Anonymity Breeds Contempt

| posted in: life 

There were two articles yesterday about anonymity online, and the potential good or bad that can result. Paul Stamatiou, a computational media senior at Georgia Tech, talked about the perils of anonymous users in social networks. He lists a couple of pros and cons:

Ars Technica provided coverage of the increased scrutiny and legal attention the college-aimed JuicyCampus website is garnering. In JuicyCampus champions free speech, AGs claim it’s a fraud, Ars Technia reports,

Anonymity breeds an environment which allows people to be bullies with no consequence. School-yard bullies are careful to not terrorize others when the teacher is nearby; anonymity online allows people to say things they wouldn’t repeat in front of authority, or even their peers.

As with any form of bullying, education is perhaps the key to unlocking the problem and eliminating it from our society. Not education in terms of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but education in terms of recognizing other people, their boundaries, emotions, culture, and norms. American society and culture seems to delight in protecting abusive or malicious behavior saying that it is protected by free speech. While I certainly don’t want my ability to read, write, say, or listen to the thoughts of others curtailed, I do feel that we aren’t approaching the problem correctly.

An enlightend, educated society, which practiced tolerance and acceptance, probably wouldn’t participate in lowest common denominator behavior like JuicyCampus, making the need to defend it moot. Unfortunately, for those of us who live in the United States, lowest common denominator behavior and expectations seem to be the rule of the day, rather than the exception.

Mahatma Gandhi was asked once, what he thought of Western Civilization. He answered that it, “would be a good idea.” His words are truer every day.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.