Monday, March 25, 2013
There are many reasons someone might choose to remain anonymous. My favorite is when generous people make significant, or perhaps not so significant, contributions to causes they believe in. There is something extra special about meaningful gifts that come out of sheer benevolence without the expectation, or desire, for recognition. It could be a gift of time, money, or services. Whether the recipient be a local charity, youth organization, or one's college alma mater, I love seeing this pure generosity. It really doesn't get more selfless than this.
Other times anonymity may serve a totally different purpose. Perhaps someone has witnessed a crime and wants to report it but fears retribution. They know reporting the crime is the right thing to do but doing so publicly isn't worth the personal sacrifice. Yet they still want to do the right thing. Maybe an employee is aware of unethical behavior in the workplace and wants to have the matter investigated without being openly labeled as a whistle blower. Or perhaps it is a child witnessing the bullying of a peer and wants it to stop without their becoming a target themselves. In my opinion, these are the exact reasons for anonymity. And then there are the not so positive uses of anonymity.
When we were stateside reading the local newspaper was one of my important daily rituals. The easiest way to put my finger on the pulse of a community is to read the letters to the editor. These snippets of opinion provide great insight into the political leanings, values, and issues of importance within a community. Many of these letters are insightful yet some of the most inflammatory are often authored by someone named "anonymous". As the media world has moved away from print and into cyberspace this seems to be increasingly the case. More often than not letters, especially the ranting ones, are signed by an anonymous writer. Really? If you felt so inspired to opine a response to something you have read, shouldn't you be willing to identify yourself? What are you hiding by not attaching your name to your letter?
This behavior has always bothered me but in recent weeks it has been hitting too close to home. As a blogger I often comment on posts I read but I always identify myself, either by my blogging names (I have two separate ones) or my email address. After all, I am expressing my opinion and by identifying myself I am allowing the blog's author to enter into a dialog with me. I welcome the same with my own blogs. Anonymous comments that are supportive or positive I can handle (although I still wish readers would identify themselves), but if you are making a negative, critical, or downright inflammatory comment, please identify yourself. If you object or feel strongly about something I have written, please tell me who you are and why you feel this way and give me a chance to respond. Ranting, insults, or downright vicious comments achieve nothing other than my deleting the poisonous words.
My blog is my own but over the past two weeks numerous anonymous comments spewing hateful comments about me and my thoughts have been popping up. I am very clear that my writings are my own opinions and as such I do not speak for anyone else. I identify who I am, where I am coming from, and why I feel the way I do. I am entitled to my own opinions and will continue to speak freely and encourage my readers to do the same. Prior to now I have allowed readers to freely publish their comments on my blog. Now, because of recent comments that I can only label as hateful and malicious, I am forced to moderate what is being published. I don't like doing this but also don't like turning on my laptop and seeing vicious words on my blog. These comments have left me feeling violated and vulnerable and as anyone who has even been in that position knows, it is a horribly uncomfortable feeling.
So here is my request to everyone out there: please continue to read my blog and post your comments. I want to hear them and I will respond but I need to know who you are. Don't hide behind the potential anonymity of the internet. I don't and take ownership for what I say. I am proud of what I write and will continue to be found right here, publishing on this blog under my own name. I have nothing to hide.