Sunday, January 11, 2009

Anonymity

People wonder why I get so irritated with anonymity on the Internet. Perhaps it's not the anonymous names that bother me, but the impetus behind them.

Al the Retired Army Guy (TRAG) posts here a lot. Although I've known him for years, he is essentially anonymous to the rest of the group. But I am pretty sure Al stands by what he types in the comment section and that he would say to anyone's face exactly what he says in these pages.

I believe Al is accountable for what he says and therefore, I don't find his semi-anonymity objectionable. I'm using Al as an example, but I believe this is true for most of my commenters. "RJ" and "philbilly" don't strike me as people with something to hide (and I'm just citing a few, I dig all my commenters). They use pseudonyms for whatever reason, but not to hide their beliefs or opinions. And yeah, I admit that this judgment is sort of a "gut reaction" thing for me and that it is not at all objective.

But when someone hides behind an anonymous name and avatar in order to spew hatred or racism or just plain old meanness that they don't have to own up to, they are a cowardly little worm. If you are afraid to stand up for what you say, it renders it meaningless in my eyes. Why do you think the KKK shitbags wore those hoods? Because they looked nice?

It comes to this simple rule: If I say it online, I'd say it to your face. I stand behind my every assertion. That's why my pictures are on this blog and why my contact info is in the sidebar and why I always invite my readers to send letters to my editor when I publish elsewhere. I do not waffle around or hide. And if I eff up, I own up to that as well.

Now go on and argue with that you genteel ladies and gentlemen.*#

* refers to the many of the commenters over at V-world. The host is one Mr. Kim Crawford (aka Velociman), who is also available by private email per the front page of his site.

# the language, having offended Mr. Kim Crawford's more refined sensibilities, has been softened so as not to misprepresent his tender commenters.

63 comments:

VideoDude said...

I to understand the need, sometimes, for anonymity. However, like you said Erin. I don't post anything I wouldn't post under my real name. I also post on a local racing message board and too many people post under "fake" names to insult and crab about everything. I wonder how many people would post, if they had to use their real name or if people knew who they were.

Nate(My real name)

Libby Spencer said...

Heh. Just got back from there. I love you Erin O'Brien and I'd say that to your face any time or place. That is all.

Erin O'Brien said...

Libby, it is a beautiful thing to behold, is it not?

Erin O'Brien said...

Hey Nate,

When we gonna lunch again sugarbaby?

Bill the wrenchbender said...

I don't say/type anything online I wouldn't say to someones face, just because it's the right thing to do.
I think once the possibility of a fist to the face is eliminated, however, a lot of people seem to lose any kind of manners they may have to have in day-to-day conversations. Sad, really, that these people are only polite due to fear of getting their asses kicked, we need a keyboard with a boot-to-the-head button!

Erin O'Brien said...

Bill, I'd nosh on a falafel with you any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

I'm anonymous because I don't know how to figure out the "Choose an Identity thing." If anyone has advice on how I do that, I'll become known to the whole wide world. Which may or may not be a good thing ... ;-)

Al
TRAG
Wallowing in Anonimity

Erin O'Brien said...

Al, now that was funny.

Try using the name/url option. You will show up as any name you type in the box and do not have to list a URL.

Libby Spencer said...

Stunning really. You are a joy and an inspiration to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm a lazy bastard. RJ are the initials for Randy Johnson. No, I can't throw a 100 MPH fastball. If I could, I'd probably be a Republican.

Al the Retired Army Guy said...

I'll give it a try, Erin, thanks.

BTW, anonymous, you can be a Republican without being able to throw a 100 MPH fastball. I mean, Jack Kemp and Steve Largent couldn't either, and both served in congress as Republicans. They could, however play football - Kemp with the Buffalo Bills, and Largent with the Seattle Seahawks, where he earned his election to the pro football hall of fame.

Al
TRAG
Hopefully no longer anonymous

VideoDude said...

Erin,

To answer your question, about lunch. Hopefully, soon. I made the first phone call and I have to make another, tomorrow. I will send you an email when I have some news. Thanks for meeting with us and for buying our lunch when my credit card bounced.

Nate

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

BTW, Velociman is wrong about sauces and gravies. Sauces are not reduced to gravies, and aren't technically gravies. Classical sauces are most often roux based (equal amounts of flour and fat - the fat classically being butter) and are made by adding a liquid (usually a stock) to it.

Gravies, on the other hand, use the rendered fat and other drippings from a protein, most usually roasted meats and poultry. Flour is then added to this fat/drippings, where it is cooked into a roux, and cooked to the desired color (whether the gravy will be white, blond, or brown), and a liquid is added (most often stock, but any liquid can be used). The gravy is strained, and sometimes mounted with butter (the addition of small amounts of butter to the gravy to add a sheen to the gravy as well as flavor), seasoned to taste, and then served accompanying the roasted meat/poultry.

What we do in the professional kitchen these days as far as sauce making goes is we take a stock and reduce it to a glace - essentially it is reduced until it is almost like jello. We then cool and sometimes freeze it for later use -often it is cut into portion size pieces that we as needed to finish a pan sauce, add to a braise, etc. to really boost the flavor of the dish.

Anyway, thought I'd set that straight.

Al
TRAG
Providing folks with more information they really needed about sauces and gravies since September, 2008

VideoDude said...

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits!!!! MMM_MMM Good!!!

Anonymous said...

Al,

See this gets complicated. If I write Randy Johnson (not the BIG UNIT or a member of the NFL Hall of Fame and therefore not a Republican) it takes a lot of space. Ergo, back to two simple key strokes, RJ.

BTW, since this thread contains more useful advice I gotta tell you. I sat up late this morning and you wouldn't believe what's on TV. For 29.95 and virtually no computer knowledge a person can learn internet secrets that have the potential to net 100K per week. Then comely young women with large enhanced breasts will stroll around the pool of your mansion with alluring eyes. Once filthy rich and sexually satiated one can then engage in that indulgence we all long for but rarely achieve, a total bowel cleansing.
Someone should tell the government, then no bailout would be needed.

RJ

Anonymous said...

Wow,

I just followed your "candy ass" link. Now there's a person who could use a total bowel cleansing.

RJ

dudesworthy said...

Why have so many people got such a hang-up about "Liberals"?

They seem to use the word as if its a bad thing...

A liberal is someone who believes in the concept of Liberty, and by extension, equal rights, scientific progress, fairness and government accountability.

How is that a bad thing?

Would they prefer it if we all suddenly became totalitarians, or anarchists or something?

Of all the ideologies to choose to hate Liberalism should be pretty far down their list, but its not, its right at the top.

I get annoyed by all this talk about opposing the "liberal agenda".

What the hell is the Liberal agenda anyway? Because I'm a fully paid up Liberal, and I have no idea. It's not like we all get together and make up secret plans like:

Liberal A "Hey so... what's our agenda anyway?"

Liberal B "Well, we all believe in Liberty so, how about making everyone free and equal?"

Liberal A "Yeah! That'll get those right-wing nutjobs, they won't know what hit 'em!"

So these people turn around and announce that because of their religion they want to be prejudiced and discriminatory and we're supposed to just respect that because somewhere along the line they wrote a book?

You know Hitler wrote a book? I don't see anyone respecting that.

Seriously, just no.

/rant

Erin O'Brien said...

Hey Randy. And let me say it here THANKS for all the great email links you've sent. I've posted many of them on these pages.

Al, that was strangely arousing.

Hi Dude, they are really freaked out over there. I poked on them just to see if there was fun to be had, but they're so scared, they flip on anyone who's the slightest bit different.

Dan said...

Can I be anonymous?

Anonymous dudes get ALL the chicks.

Kirk Jusko said...

I use my real name (think I could make something like that up?) but for reasons that have nothing to do with the courage of my convictions (which are in flux most of the time anyway)

I went on the internet the first time, in fact, USED a computer for the first time, last April. Two weeks later, I started my blog.

My advice to internet virgins, NEVER EVER start a blog until you fully understand the technology!

A while back, my sister says to me, "I see you're leaving comments on a lot of different blogs."

"How do you know that?"

"I googled your name."

"What the hell are you talking about? I've tried googling my name, and I can't even get my own blog, much less my comments on others"

"Did you put quotation marks around your name?"

"Uh,...no."

"Well, try it next time."

So, when next time rolled around, I tried it.

Oh, shit.

It's too late now, but if I were to use a fake name, it would be:

On-line Luddite

Al the Retired Army Guy said...

"Anonymous dudes get ALL the chicks."

I really wish Dan would have said that before I began identifying myself ... ;-(

Al
TRAG
No Longer a Chick Magnet (not that I ever was, but you get my point)

DogsDontPurr said...

Erin vs. V~man....now THAT is something that should be on pay-per-view!

I love you both. I don't always agree with V~man, but I know that his bark is worse than his bite. If he ever gets off this political stuff and gets back to writing about his father, The Senator, that stuff is really worth the read.

Erin O'Brien said...

Hi Kirk. You get much snow over in S-ville?

And I always say: don't post it if you don't want the world to see it.

Al, with a mug like that, how could the chix resist?

DDP: Hello babygirl! Re: the Vman, I'm not so sure even his readers understand him.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

Erin,

Trust me, with a mug like this, many chicks have passed rather than commit.

Al
TRAG
No longer anonymous

DogsDontPurr said...

Erin, I think you are right about V~man's readers! He is quite the cryptic character.

Shortly after my boyfriend had a heart attack (he may have even still been in the hospital), V~man called me to offer his sympathies...sort of. His first sentence to me was something like, "So how's your sex life?" But I believe he was just trying to be silly to cheer me up during such a serious time.

You should really try to get him on the phone. If you can cut through his seriously thick Southern accent, and make light of his redneck rantings, I'm sure you two would be fast friends. You both have the flame!

Julia Farley said...

I can hardly keep my face from contorting with glee on reading this comment thread. So happy...so very happy.

Anonymous said...

Erin,

In your travels, you may have come across various articles warning people about expressing their feelings on the internet because employers are watching. I see your point about people hiding behind code names or anonymity and agree that it can lead to ignorant posts. Most of us are not schizophrenic writers, cooped up in their den, drinking organic tea, popping vitamins all day and eating chips in front of a webcam. Some people out there have something to lose if clients or employers that have their own reputation on the line. I respect your opinion which is what keeps me checking your blog but think it runs much deeper than being a coward.

VideoDude said...

Re: Anonymous,

It isn't about using a fake or no name. It is about attacking people and hiding behind a fake name. I understand the need to not use a real name on the net for a lot of reasons. But certain people use that anonymity to attack. The nessage: If your going to attack someone, have the guts to put your name on it.

Nate

Erin O'Brien said...

What Nate just said is exactly right, but I have a few bon mots to add.

I knew it wouldn't take long for some anonymous commenter to show up here and prove my point.

Now tell me, anonymous, if you met me in the flesh, would you approach me and say, "Hi Erin! I'm Dick F. Up and I read your blog all the time. Sometimes, I even comment! Remember when I said, 'Most of us are not schizophrenic writers, cooped up in their den, drinking organic tea, popping vitamins all day and eating chips in front of a webcam?' Yep, that was me all right!"

For the record Mr. (or Ms.) Dick F. Up, I worked for years for BP Oil. I also was a solo freelance engineer for a while, and it earned me a good buck, but I was so compelled to the keyboard that I left all that behind in order to write.

I've been a bartender, waitress and busgirl (although all the waiters called me the "bustit") as well.

I am not going to justify what I do or try to prove to you what hard work writing is. Since you (obviously) caught me on the wrong day, I'll just offer you this: if you don't respect what I do, then kindly print out this page, crumble it into a ball and shove it up your ass.

Yours,

Erin O'Brien

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks Julia.

When people behave like that, they only reveal themselves, which was more or less my point.

deangc said...

if you don't respect what I do, then kindly print out this page, crumble it into a ball and shove it up your ass.

That's my girl!

BTW: based solely on the prolix example you pointed to, you're a much better writer than Kim what'shisname. Now, maybe he was pouring on the kitsch to impress the rubes (which it did), but that doesn't make good writing.

Erin O'Brien said...

Hi Dean, what's shakin' up there in the Great White North?

The thing about vocabulary is this: if your reader has to use a dictionary, you've failed on some level. When using an exotic word, it should be in a context that organically imparts its meaning:

The sun shone through the church's clerestory windows, casting a lace shawl of light upon the pews.

Will looking up clerestory enhance that sentence? Probably, but the reader does not have to step out of the narrative in order to do so if he doesn't wish to.

You know what I mean. You're a writer. Man, that's the sort of shit that jazzes me.

Erin O'Brien said...

Now that I just reread that, I could have omitted the word "church" from my example and any reader would have still understood.

deangc said...

Not only are you a better writer, but you have a better rack than almost anybody on these here internets. And I include myself in that comparison.

if your reader has to use a dictionary, you've failed on some level.

I'd go further than that: if your reader stops to notice the writing, you've interrupted the flow.

I think we all went through periods where we wrote like Mr. Kim, all adjectivey-like. If 'sun' is good, then 'glowing hot, cheerful, yellow, comforting' sun is better.

As an aside, I am seized by a notion to write a story in which an enraged man yells 'Clerestory, motherfucker! Clerestory!' How the hell you weave a story around that I don't know.

Erin O'Brien said...

If it involves a sex scene in which the main erotic element is a safety belt, I'll really be impressed.

Bill the Wrenchbender said...

Mmmm, falafel.................

Kirk Jusko said...

Um...You can call it Strongsville, if you like, it's right there in my profile page.

Incidentally, is Dick F. Dick Feagler? HE reads this blog? Demand to be put on his show the next time he criticizes you!

Erin O'Brien said...

Ha! Nope, don't think ol' man Feagler comes 'round here much. But if he did, I'd let him trash talk me as long as he directed everyone to my URL as he did it.

Velociman said...

Erin,

As we had taken this topic off line, and seemed to be aware of the difference between anonymous blogging and my creation of (the mostly apolitical) Velociworld as a place to work on writing skills in a somewhat free environment, I take this as a cheap shot. You are also aware that Sullivan and every one of the 200 commenters on that post know my name (most thought I was female as a result).
I'm confused on one other point, however: am I a candy ass or a Klansman? You only get to choose one (Velocirules).

All the best,

Kim

VideoDude said...

...if you don't respect what I do, then kindly print out this page, crumble it into a ball and shove it up your ass.


I think I am in love!!

Erin O'Brien said...

Actually, Kim, I was refering to your commenters.

Erin O'Brien said...

As you can see, I have clarified my reference in the post. My apologies, Mr. Crawford.

Velociman said...

Erin,

I'm glad you cleared that up about the commenters. Those candy asses. I suppose that makes me the Klansman.

Aloow me to elucidate: my grandfather was a Klansman for a brief period in the 1930's. It was the south Georgia equivalent of being in Civitan. The torch was not passed.

Erin O'Brien said...

If it makes you feel any better, Mr. Crawford, I think they are candy-asses of the highest order.

Erin O'Brien said...

And I daresay, Mr. Crawford, that after the name calling and insults I fielded over at your place, I damn well earned the right to call that group high-order candy-asses.

Velociman said...

Ye entered of your own volition, dear. And once I ascertained your good intentions I rebuked as necessary, and tried to make you feel a bit more welcome.

But you must excuse me. We have a firing up on Stone Mountain tonight.

Sincerely,

KKKim

philbilly said...

Candy ass and Klansman are synonymous.

Punk is punk.

Erin O'Brien said...

Well Kim, I surely cannot deny that. To be honest, I sort of loved watching that group expose itself. As for the KKK reference, I used it only as a graphic example. I didn't assigned the label to anyone. You're welcome here anytime.

And Phil, to that end, I think you're right, but I also think that while all Klansmen are/were probably candy-asses, not all candy-asses are Klansmen. The candy-ass umbrella has so so so many sects beneath it. For the record, some of my very best friends are candy-asses.

Velociman said...

No Klansmen in the candy ass bath houses, for instance. Although I shall steer clear of the sobriquet 'skinhead' in this case. Just in case it means something I don't know what it means.

KKKim

philbilly said...

Clarification: In my lexicon a candy-ass is a coward. I understand the other more colloquial usage.

It was a generic playground taunt growing up, hurled at will for any perceived lack of fourth-grade bravado.

But living in die welt reinforced this distinction, in that I have seen a cowardice in heterosexual men that ran soul deep, much more than mere affectations. Hanging a man who has been hunted down by a gang of thugs is an ultimate cowardice. Drive-by shootings epitomize the modern coward manifested in packs. The true fear of the KKK was them knowing inside that in spite of the constant brutality exacted upon their prey, these hunted men and brutalized women thrived and were imbued with the power of this American Democratic Republic and its Constitution to take their rightful place in the history to come. The same goes for the Palestinians who are 37 years under the lash of the Radical Israeli fringe elements with American mainstream media as their PR handmaidens. And fucking Hamas who hide in the skirts of the very women that they don't have the courage to engage as peers, to bring down bombs and memorialize a blood sacrifice to their own fear.

This mad plunder of human lives is always in the breach of men and women who stand for, and against something, something far beyond ideology and dogma.

Fuck off.

Erin O'Brien said...

Everyone here is entitled to their opinions. But please, let's try to play nice.

You're emotions are well-founded, phil.

Kim? Can't help you. No bath house experience. See Republican Conservative Hero, Larry Craig.

hoosierboy said...

I guess you consider me one of the candy-ass Klansmen. I do on very rare occasions post a comment at the V-man. In reality this site is one of the few places I do comment on a regular basis. I am sure wonder why I single you out. I do not know. We had an off-line communication on why I post under a psudonym. Rest assured I write nothing on my blog I would not say to your face. In fact, I make the same arguments in conversation all the time. I can only point to history and mention that the publishers of the Fedealist Papers were anonymous. They believed their political points were more important than the name of the messenger. I never put myself in that class of thinkers and writers, but use it as a point.

As far as why Liberal is derided among the Conservative, the definition provided by Dude is the classic description. Today Liberal is more used to define progressive, left leaning, socialist agendas. Left-leaners use that term because they are sure they cannot be elected if they call themselves Socialist or Communist (some are). For some reason it really really pisses 'Liberals' off when you point out their political stands are straight from Marx and Engels.

Just as few of us fall into the ends of the spectrum, pure socialist or pure capitalist, there is a broad range in the middle. For instance I do not believe it is the government's right to tell me to wear a seat belt. I do, even if I am backing the car from the driveway, but is my freedom to be stupid. It affects no none else. In the same breath I am OK with car-seat laws. The kid cannot make that decision and needs to be protected from bad parents.

We may disagree on how we are taxed and the proper role of Government. That does not make either of us ignorant. The left often resorts to such stands when faced with argument. The right responds with feel-good hippy counter attacks. Neither produces effective results.

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks for the comment hoose, but I didn't call anyone a Klansman.

I believe you when you say you stand by what you post. I take offense at the shitbags who incite anger or hatred or whatever, then hide behind an anonymous mask in order to shirk accountability.

Reread the post, that's really what it says. It is completely apolitical.

jonas said...

Hoosier, a question:

And I mean to ask this as purely devil's advocate. When you say no one else is affected by not wearing a seatbelt, I'm not sure I buy that. Your potential injury and death have trickle down effects. Subsequent trip to the ER, insurance rates, your families loss of income and then the burden on the state if they cannot take care of themselves, etc., etc. Aren't those real affects/costs on other people? Motorcycle helmet laws are another great example.

And isn't this the way we argue against smoking, drugs, etc?

Interested in your take.

Erin O'Brien said...

That's exactly what I was thinking, Jonas. If someone is injured in an auto accident and they have no insurance, I'm pretty sure I'll be paying the tab one way or another.

No seatbelt=more significant injury=higher tab.

hoosierboy said...

Erin, I did not really think you called me a KKKer, it was a bit of a joke. I will address the seatbelt thing later, I am off to do some selling -- gotta make the donuts you know.

Erin O'Brien said...

Sorry then, hoose. Sometimes I guess I lose my sense of humor.

erf!

Go make donuts, or ball bearings. Hey! I love ball bearings!

deangc said...

I love ball bearings!

That is because you love the ball bearing. In the same way that I love the breast bearing. And the breast baring, come to think of it.

Do you love the ball baring too?

VideoDude said...

My issue is with those people who post anonymously and attack others. I understand the need to be anonymous. Some people use it as a shield to attack others.

Kirk Jusko said...

Erin, I have a terrible confession to make, and I hope you'll find it in your heart to forgive me.

When I initially read this post on Sunday (I'm writing this on Tuesday) I didn't link when you asked me to link (as you know I write this in the library. I was snowed in Saturday--or at least too lazy to brush it off my car as more was falling so it all seemed kind of futile, so on Sunday, playing catch-up, I had to put in a couple of resumes and applications, check some other blogs I follow, check my own blog, and, of course, check my email, so I was kind of skimming through everything) and thus read it completely out of context. I also skipped over your footnotes. None of which, of course, stopped me from adding my own little amusing, and, I now realize, irrelevent, anecdote.

Anyway, I just got around to linking it now, and I have to say your comments and comebacks were HILARIOUS! Not that you're not amusing when you're in a good mood, but, pissed off, you're Hunter S. Thompson, PJ O'Roarke, HL Menkin, Mike Royko, Mark Twain, Maureen Dowd, Gore Vidal, Lenny Bruce, and Don Rickles put together! (I'm not talking politics here, just writing style)

Now, um, I noticed some links in you link. I, uh, skipped over those so I could hurry up and write this. Am I, uh, missing something? (I've already seen you in the chair, and remember, I'm in the library facing the children's section)

Erin O'Brien said...

Kirk, I'm so nuts with everything, I can hardly keep track of what I'm missing. eek!

And no worries about when or if you link.

Thanks for the kind comparisons.

jonas said...

Hoosier:

Let me add a bit before you reply to my first question. I'll perhaps save us some time and give you part of my position: I think we live in a time and place where we can't do what we want at all times. This I mean if nothing else, in legal terms, as well as social-functional terms. Which is to say I'm not making a moral argument. It's just that I don't think our society (or, most others) can actually function if we don't consider other people. I know, that sounds simple and obvious, and you're only making a point about a seatbelt. So, I'm extrapolating a bit. Anyway, that's my point: as much as I may agree with your sentiment (that is, why should I be told what to do if no one gets hurt...which is, sort of the basis for our law system), our society is too complex interwoven to be able to actually live like that anymore. That is, unless you move out to Walden Pond and write every high school student's nightmare.

Oh,and another fun thing: you know of course that the "let me just do what I want, and keep government away from me" is a big part of classical (Enlightenment thru pre-FDR) liberalism.

Anyway, looking forward to your response.

cheers

hoosierboy said...

I have responded to the seatbelt law discussion at my place.