Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Choose an Identity
Those words, “choose an identity”, appear as you sign in to add comments to these blog postings. (Of course, you can always sign in anonymously and you are strongly encouraged to comment, just so I know who is checking this out!) Anyway, it got me thinking, again, about the internet and its anonymity.
Choose. You decide, who do you want to be? Do you like the real you? If not, be someone else. Does the rest of the world not understand you, be someone else. Be ornery, or nice. Be kind or spiteful. Be true or false. Be old, or young. Be male, or female. Be who you want to be, no one else knows… no one’s looking but God.
Of course, the anonymity also gives us the opportunity to say things and be misrepresented that we never would were we communicating face to face. The lack of accountability and the fact that the people who read what we write likely don’t know us, makes it easy to adopt a hard stance on an issue or with an individual. It also gives free reign to “free speech” advocates to abuse the intention of whoever came up with that term in the first place. Rather than speech seasoned with salt, we dump on the whole box.
Kierkegaard said, “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” And the man has a point. If we’d utilize the latter, the first would be less needed. Editing is a great option for email and posting on the internet. Asking a second opinion about a choice of words is not only a good idea, it’s wise. It took me a couple of years to realize that I was both allowing myself to get caught up emotionally in other people’s poor use of the internet and was baiting, or flaming in net terms, at times. Hopefully once we understand these things we can learn to get positive results out of the exchange of thoughts, ideas and opinions rather than anger and further polarizing that occurs at times.