Blogging and anonymity


I’m currently reading The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight. Undecided on it at the moment, but I did enjoy these thoughts on blogging.

Blogging may be the world’s most fascinating form of communication. Someone jots down their ideas, clicks “publish”, and those ideas instantaneously appear for the whole world to see. The world does see. More importantly, the world sometimes comments back. Sometimes anonymously and sometimes bitingly and sometimes it hurts. The first lesson a blogger learns is this: anyone in the world can say anything they want at anytime on a blog. The second lesson is this: you may not know that person. In my first week of blogging … I learned these two lessons, and they shocked me. One of the first questions that wandered its way through my head when I began reading a comment on something I had written was: “Who is this person anyway?”

After years of teaching, preaching, and writing, comments and questions were common for me. I am used to being questioned. In fact, I enjoy it. But teachers know who is saying what and more often than not we also know where our students’ questions are “coming from”. But those who drop comments in the comment box on a blog can do so anonymously or with a fictitious name. Under the cloak of anonymity, they can become bold and brazen and can blast away. Incivility marks blogs far too often. To be sure, blogs form blog communities where most learn enough about the other commenters that, even if we don’t know the person personally, we recognise their electronic personality. Knowing one another restores civility. Still, until one discovers “who is who” and “where they are coming from”, comments can sometimes startle and shock.

Food for thought.

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