Does Anyone Still Comment Anonymously?
I remember a few years ago when my local newspaper went online. At the time, I wondered why anyone would give up sitting in a comfy chair reading a paper to sit in front of a desktop computer to read. Even now, as much as I love and embrace my laptop and smartphone, I still get a copy of the paper, and enjoy reading it from that same comfortable spot. I guess I’ll always do some things the old fashioned way, if for no other reason than the nostalgia of it.
The day finally came that I decided to check out this online edition to see what it was all about. Not bad, actually. It had less information than the print edition and was no substitute for it, so I still didn’t initially get why some people seemed to prefer it, other than it being free. Then, I saw the one feature that sucked me into the vortex: the ability to comment on stories. Oh. My. Goodness. How fun could that be? There were no real identities attached to the comments – everyone had anonymous user ID’s. As with many online forums, there was an interesting cast of characters offering comments ranging from the articulate to the ridiculous, opinions as varied as the color spectrum, and slugfests between posters who disagreed. I loved wading in with what I hoped was intelligent and well reasoned commentary. It was energizing and at times exhausting, but also educational and fun.
Fast forward a few years later, and I am far less inclined to comment on these forums. Why? One reason is that I use social media instead. I know who I am talking to and vice versa. I expect the transparency that typifies the social universe. When I do contribute, it is always in my name. I’m surprised to see so many people still comment anonymously. I think online communication, with few exceptions, has evolved such that people should identify themselves when speaking. If you can’t own your words with your real name behind them, chances are you’ve got no business saying them in the first place. Anonymous commenting, especially of the mean spirited variety, seems both cowardly and passe.
What do you think? Do you comment anonymously? Am a I wrong to condemn this practice as a general rule?