Monday, May 24, 2010

Anonymity and Intent

Why be anonymous? I don't get it. I understand the value of stealth, as a friend puts it. He enjoys visiting cities because he can move about in them, among all those people, but still retain his privacy because no one knows him. For instance, he can sit in a coffee shop, undisturbed.

Here's another iteration of anonymity. Someone left an anonymous comment on my blog. It was a useful comment, factual in content and helpful to me because it addressed an error I made. I had relied on a memory which proved faulty and am glad to have the misinformation corrected.

The thing about the written word is that we cannot always catch the tone or subtext of it. However, we often do have an idea of tone and subtext when we know the person whose words we are reading.

In this case the correction seemed to have some attitude embedded. I could almost hear the words "you idiot" attached to the end of each phrase, which may or may  not be an accurate interpretation of tone.

I'm already mortified when I realize I've said something that's not accurate. And my friends know that I'm quick to own my mistakes, so it's difficult to imagine a friend commenting anonymously. Yet in this case it's most likely to be one of my Facebook friends who left the comment as it came very soon after I posted the blog to my Facebook page - odder still, as we are not anonymous on Facebook

In any case, it's okay to be a smart ass. Some of my best friends are smart asses. But I take their criticism better when I'm looking them in the eye. And as I said, I could be misreading the intent because of the fact that the writer didn't identify himself.

Critical comments are helpful to me, as this one was, and I do appreciate them. Some things are hard to say, to be sure. But this comment should not have been hard for anyone who knows me to say publicly or privately. 

I've changed the blog so it only accepts comments from people with names. I've never sent an anonymous letter to the editor, though sometimes that might have felt the safer thing to do. An anonymous comment on a personal blog? If the intent is good, what's the anonymity about? If the intent was to embarrass or shame, be honest enough to own it.

No comments:

Post a Comment