Anonymity: The Beauty of the Internet

January 14, 2008

It will take me a few moments to get to the point of my title, but first I would like to begin by speaking on the popularity of a blogger we should all know by now, Robert Scoble. Many bloggers who are into the whole Web 2.0 thing know who Scoble is. He is so known and respected that when he is kicked off of Facebook, it is the topic of discussion for weeks. With this kind of celebrity, I would go so far as to say he is a leader in the industry, at least as far as blogging is concerned. Proof of this fact, is that his blog was one of the very first that we were required to add to our “required reading”.

To get to my point, I would like to comment on Scoble’s recent post about his dealings with Facebook. He posts on how Facebook has recently joined DataPortability.org, in the hopes of eventually making Facebook portable. He indirectly suggests in his post, that he had a hand in making Facebook take this action. This, of course, is not the point my my post, but the comments made on Scoble’s post is.

Too make a long story short, Scoble pretty much gets trashed in some of the comments on his post. People go so far as to call him “childish”, and say that he is “kicking up a tantrum”.

Maybe I had ignorantly assumed that Scoble was above open scrutiny, like say a CEO of a major corporation would be from his employees. Of course people would see things differently and grumble from time to time, but I figured the criticism would be kept quiet, at the very least not said so openly. On his own blog even!

I guess what I’m saying, in this case due to anonymity, the internet is beautiful. In real life, people would be too scared of repercussions or embarrassment to raise their voice and speak their mind against “a leader in the industry”. Would most average Joe’s even have a right (or get the chance) to talk to a “celebrity”? However, on the internet, where there can be a great deal of anonymity (and opportunity), people will speak their voices and say what they have to say.

A separate case, although still dealing with anonymity, is the issue of Scoble making his cell phone readily available. I have read from his blog that many of his readers are kicking up a fuss about how Valleywag has posted Scoble’s cell phone number online. Scoble has openly stated that he’s fine with this, in fact, he’s even had his cell phone number available on his own blogs for years, but yet his readers were upset with the fact that Valleywag would jeopardize his identity by posting his personal cell phone number.

The reason why Scoble doesn’t care? Because no one ever calls him. Out of all of the years having his phone number listed, he has barely received any calls from his readers. This can surely be attributed to the fact that people like to remain anonymous. If someone has the guts to call such an “industry leader” personally on his cell phone, then they better know exactly what they’re going to say. When you write a post, you know your anonymous, and you know you have time to revise what your going to say. When your on the phone in real time, you only have so long to think of what to say, and if your phone number isn’t private, then it leaves easy access for Scoble to call you back sometime.

Personally, I think this is one of the incredible things about the internet. People aren’t afraid to have their voices heard and post on their extremely relevant perspective, instead of holding it back like many would do in real life. This, I believe, is one of the beauties of the internet.

Cheers

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2 Responses to “Anonymity: The Beauty of the Internet”

  1. davecanvin Says:

    I agree, but I also think it is kind of bad too. Since people think they are “invincible” when they are online because of the anonymity, and the fact that you can be “whoever you like”, you run into some major problems.

    The biggest I think are threats. I read alot of news stories syndicated through Google News, and I am always hearing stories about teenagers especially making threats against others through Myspace or Facebook. Would they make these threats face to face? Likely not, but as you said, people are alot braver when they are sitting behind a computer monitor.

    That is one example. I think anonymity does have its benefits online, since it encourages the freedom to express yourself. However, it also has its drawbacks which shouldn’t be forgotten.

  2. dgmckenna Says:

    I have an example too. I have a friend at work, hereafter named Jeff, that has been harassed on Facebook over the past couple of months. An unknown person with a fake name has been posting embarrassing things about Jeff and keeps harassing his girlfriend in the same way. He’s pretty sure it’s his girlfriends ex, but he can never come out and accuse the guy because there is no way to be sure. It’s been a pretty big deal in Jeff’s life and he’s been pretty stressed out about it.

    My point is, I completely agree with your’s. I still hold my position on how anonymity is incredible, but I am also very aware of the problems that come with it.

    Thanks for the comment


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