A couple of anonymous-blogger friends emailed me recently, concerned about statements I'd made about anonymous blogging...
so, here is what I *really* think of anonymous blogging: alot of people have reasons for anonymous blogging. Usually very good ones. Their anonymity, however, does not stop them from having honest, truthful, clear voices on their blogs. They still comment on others blogs, take comments on their own, and participate in this whole communal thing. Their anonymity does not prevent them from being civil. And they contribute alot to the blogosphere.
We have the right to be anonymous. And most people who blog anonymously support the positive and necessary aspects of anonymous blogging.
However, there are people who like to hide behind anonymity....They like to bully others-- and I don't mean the kinds of bullies who provide counter-point to high-profile public or political figures who can definitely take care of themselves. The anonymous ones that trouble me are those who seem to exist solelly to bully their peers--who like to say that they are protecting themselves by being anonymous, when all they are really doing is hiding so that they can be as nasty as they wanna be. They aren't protecting anything at all--and their incivility can end up hurting all of us.
I'm sure some of y'all are thinking "that's preposterous! how can negative, incivil bullying hurt an entire community! just ignore it!"
Why ignore something that can be used as leverage against the whole? Consider the Forbes Magazine article that was published in November, 2005. Examples like those in the Forbes article have damaged reputations of people as well as products. The bloggers are protected by free speech laws, even though they have significantly hurt others--and hurting others was their main intention.
So, how can negative bloggers who attack business end up hurting the wider blogging community? Because when the focus in MSM (still the main portal of information for the general populace) is on how bully-bloggers use anonyminty, the general public (and even some bloggers) begin to believe that negativity is all of what blogging is about. If people see blogging as negative, they will not participate in what could turn out to not only be a vibrant new Town Square but also an incredible forum for bringing people of like minds together in ways old media never allowed.
It all seems to be a form of self-hatred on the part of anonymous bullies. What is it then about people who appear to hate blogging but feel the need to use blogs as forums for their hatred and incivility--and who foster communities that thrive on incivility and negativity? They can say that they are exercising their right to free speech, and are helping others to exercise their need to free speech without exposing themselves, but it seems that they are manipulating the ideal of free speech and of anonymity to further something that has more to do with feeding the ego than with defending either ideal.
What to do about this? Who knows. Censorship? Doesn't work. Ends up making the concerned parties look like Nazis. Ignore the negative ones? Not really--ignoring a bully feeds the bully's ego. And the bully will only move on to others until it wins some pyrric ego victory.
So, perhaps the solution is to support anonymous bloggers whose blogging furthers the understanding of this as social media and who truly support our right to use the medium to share information and ideas as well as foster conversation and community.
Just a thought.