Questioning Anonymity In the Web

Seeing this a lot lately

Anonymity in content publishing has been thoroughly questioned from time to time, mostly for the reasons of credibility and for the usual blunt nature of anonymous content. However it has always been the norm and the right of users to be anonymous, not for any reason but the Freedom of Expression alone. Give up this right and you give up the rest along with it.

Sinhala blogging has always had a fierce discussion about the legitimate nature of anonymous comments and blogs, that would ultimately end up protecting users’ right to be anonymous. From time to time some wise guy would stand up say that he wouldn’t take any input from someone without an online identity and if anyone to comment on his blog the user should have the “guts” to reveal who he is.

This morning I saw just that. A Sinhala blog post bringing out levels after levels of populist logic to prove that anonymity is wrong. This person, writing under a pseudonym himself points out that anonymity is just not worth it and -“surprisingly”- users should have the guts to reveal themselves if they are to say anything against him.

I’ve met this person in real life, so it is really hard for me not to come to quick conclusions for most of his logic, but I’ll try my best to dissect his text without taking his personal habits in to account.

His text begins with a comparison of the real and the virtual communities. He points out that what he calls the “ID” is identity of the online world and since it can be easily changed the anonymity is easily seen in the online ecosystem. Then he goes on to add some pseudo-logic to prove that having an ID is “so much” better than being completely anonymous.

This is friggin hilarious, especially provided that the idea itself comes from a person behind a pseudonym. One would go on to say that his is a brand rather than a pseudonym but then if that is a brand his real world details should clearly be visible connected to the brand.

The real situation is that on the virtual environment even a profile with a real name is not authentic, unless the authenticity is verified in some physical or near physical manner. Twitter and Facebook has such methods, but they are not always enforced, clearly for the massive impracticality of authenticating everyone. For this simple reason, the logic shown above does not validate at all. We are all anonymous on the web, whether we like it or not. Turning on anonymity is like punching yourself in the face.

Then this guy goes on to rant about the majority of anonymous feedback that is “harmful” to the society. He questions the backbone of the anonymous users and even goes on to excessively foolish levels to prove that “people with broken backbones cannot type comments”.

The fact about the majority of anonymous users being “harmful” to the society, I couldn’t agree more to. Most anonymous feedback is related to trolling and flame wars. But then what do these so called “users with identities” contribute to the society? Let us take a look at his own archive.

  1. How he and his gang selected a brazier for one of his friends’ girlfriend in school
  2. Why  new girls have to pee a lot
  3. Another post on boobs
  4. Apparently some asses had their skin taken off above the city of Galle (I can see how)
  5. Some posts on Big matches and butts

Pretty positive contribution there my good sir. I feel like I’m trolling, so let us leave his blog alone.

Even if we take the majority of blogs, they talk about trivial simpletons like teenage love, fun time in schools etc for most of their quick burnouts. Ironically the biggest positive contribution from Sinhala blogosphere to the society came from TabooSubjects – an anonymous writer – whose blog was apparently silenced. The contents of his blog were far more rich and valuable than the junkie bullshit these ano-haters’ blogs provide. The same goes for the writers under pseudonyms today.

The point is that anonymity is the best medium of expression there is. Even when weighted with the fact that most of them are harmful, anonymity beats ten times the people with the so called “identity” who rarely contribute anything of worth to readers.

So we can let that joke aside. Let us get back to the illogical thesis.

He continues to mention the Anonymous Aathal blog (as the anonymous users’ hangout place) and start throwing stones at it. The first thing to say about this is that anonymity has nothing do with this super massive troll. It is based on anonymity but not vice versa.

He tries desperately here and there to base his illogical logic on some sense but fails miserably, like when he tries to equate anonymous users to bastards.

අවජාතක =   අව- ජාතක

අව- අඩු, පහත්   වේ

As pathetic as it seems his interpretation of the word is off by lightyears. That aside, this attempt to show some intelligence that is not there is based on his own accusation, and not on any semantic relationship to anonymity. Once again not so much of a positive contribution there.

The rest of his text is based on this one sided flame and references to dogs. Even if his extended affection to dogs is emphasized greatly let us leave that and come to the cold hard facts.

To clear any doubts here it should be said that I have been greatly trolled by these anonymous people as a blogger. So it should not be mistaken that I’m defending anonymous users. I’m defending anonymity.

This blogger might not be aware of the Electronic Freedom Frontier’s declared “Bloggers Rights” or the other freedoms attached with online user base, but they make up the crucial legal and constitutional structure of the Internet. These very rights have allowed him to express his ideas. Given that he is new to blogging and does not engage in it seriously this ignorance is understandable.

However what he should understand is that the fundamental right that allows anonymity on the Internet is the same right that allows him to publish his trash posts about butts and bra’s in a public medium, i.e. Freedom of Expression. Try to fuck that and you wouldn’t know until it has almost backfired on you. Take GoDaddy and other SOPA supporters here as examples.

The unfortunate situation of the Sinhala blogosphere from a long time is apparent in the reply comments. Most of the repliers are under pseudonyms at the same time attacking anonymity. This demonstrates that most of the said bloggers have no idea of what bloggin truly can accomplish. The majority of the blog posts are to do with topics like “can women piss like men do”, “what we did when we were in school” (no one else had this much fun I promise, NOW DON’T YOU LEAVE WITHOUT A COMMENT YOU BASTARD!) or some pure bullshit like how to cook this and that. I’m not saying that bullshit should go away. I’m saying that bullshit should be called bullshit for what they are, not promoted like Pulitzer material. It’s this ignorance that has led to a state like this, where idiots have the popular saying and shoot their own feet in the process.

The writer closes the text by mentioning that the cityfolks are the ones without the backbone, which combined with a comment of his sounds like a little bit of finger pointing. If we leave out the fact that the people who bash the cityfolk and the city’s way of life the most are the ones dying to get to the city to prosper, the fact that most fork-tongued backstabbing people I’ve met in my life are from rural areas should be of enough to understand his mentality. I’ve socialized with them throughout the schooldays, the university and on the general society. Compared to them most of the so called “posh” people from cities have far more open minds.

What I hate more than just plain stupidity is the double talk. We’ve got quite a range of characters in Sinhala blogosphere, most of who are trying to hide what they truly are. I will not do any name calling here, especially not at the verge of a another so called get-together, but most of us know what these characters are. Their bullshit can only be covered by rants like this, “I’m against anonymity”, “I’m against pseudonyms”, “I’m against eating meat” etc. It never sees an end.

I wouldn’t normally write something like this, not since few years, but seeing an idea like that bubbling up was just outraging. Now I know that this post would probably attract a large number of trolls, which is why I wrote it in English, to filter out most of the people (no offense) who wouldn’t read a long post like this (took offense? Good, because I wouldn’t have given a fuck anyways). If you’re a brave troll to conquer this long strip of Latin script feel free to release the first arrow right here. I’ve been in worse shit storms than the one coming so this should be relatively easy.

9 thoughts on “Questioning Anonymity In the Web

  1. you doomed chamila..,you doomed.
    Seems like you does not understand the power of those ppl who wrote with their actual [anonymous] names.
    Eg: podi man..

    #sarcasm ;)))

  2. Writing about anonymity or blaming it in posts is a common method of attracting users. Also writing about blogs itself or sex will get the same results. I don’t know about other countries but it’s here in SL. And over the past few years while sinhala blogging was reaching its current state, writing about taboos became a simple and most efficient way of being popular. So we can now read what we all do inside a room (and of course every persons experience) in blogs. (After being depressed and done with it, will there me a person to write about porn stars in public? if someone did, I will advertise it :P)

    I’m not into blame this as it’s bad to the society. (Society? hup!) I more like to see it as a another state of ever changing blog sphere. May be it’s a deceitful way of ignoring it.

    Anonymity is, as you described is the best way to express the true feeling while not getting the so called “ID” spoiled. It means, an ID holder is maybe hiding his/her true feeling while doing nothing more than scratching your back!

    • //writing about taboos became a simple and most efficient way of being popular.// couldn’t agree more!

      Writing about taboos is okay, even great if you’re actually starting a good debate on those subjects, but darn lame if you’re just shouting them out to get attention.

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