Last night I said, “The abuse of anonymity makes me sad,” and also that I would find some time this week to write about it.
So here goes.
I used to be purely against anonymity on the Web. Then my friend Sassy Pants started blogging anonymously (save for a few of us who know her identity), and I started to understand somewhat.
And then Sassy Pants led me to the fictionalized recreational sex blog Girl With a One-Track Mind, written by “Abby Lee.” It’s a really well-written, informative, and thoroughly enjoyable blog, and eventually “Abby” (a pseudonym, hence the quotes) was handed a book deal. So, she wrote a book.
I was horrified by The Guardian’s treatment of her: They sent flowers to “Abby Lee” via her book agent, then had a photographer follow the delivery to her door.
She had to call her mom and warn her.
Can you even imagine the conversation? “Hi, Mom. Just a warning. When you get the paper tomorrow, you’re going to find out that I have a lot of sex and that I write rather luridly about it. That’s all. Love ya. Say hi to Dad.”
Sunday was the 20th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. That terrorist attack – a bomb on a timer in a suitcase aboard an international flight – killed all 259 people on board the plane, plus 11 people on the ground.
It also was a wake-up call to the international community regarding airline security.
When I first visited Syracuse University on Nov. 1, 2002, I learned that 35 of the people on that plane were exchange students from the university on their way home for the holidays.
The phrase follows a note from Mark Libbon at The Post-Standard:
A number of inappropriate comments have been removed, as suggested by the previous comment.
I happen to have the privilege of working for syracuse.com, and so this morning, I took occasion to read some of the comments that were removed from the site.
Sadly, I have to say, they deserved removal. They were everything from hateful to useless to irresponsible. And that’s the problem with offering people anonymity: there’s no accountability for what they say.
Let’s be honest. We all have stuff we’d love to say, but let’s face it, some things we keep to ourselves, because they have consequences we’re not willing to incur. These consequences might be anything from being branded an idiot or a racist, to being fired for representing your company in an unprofessional manner.
But let’s face it: unless you’re the late Mark Felt – the best-known anonymous source ever – you probably need a really good reason for anonymity on the Web. And you shouldn’t abuse it by saying anything you’d be embarrassed to say if you put your name behind it.