I received a comment today on my post about the Anonymous Blog. As I started to reply I realised that I had more to say than just a couple of lines, so I've put it as a posting. Immediately below is the comment I got from an Anonymous Blogger, and below that is my reply.
One reason that occured re family and friends not leaving comments is fear of letting something slip about you...or saying ring me on 0845478904...oops...or the textual equivalent of pointing to you in a photgraph (naked, aged 24 months) amongst a roomful of your co-workers.
The anonymity in weblogs is a natural reaction to other things apart from losing your job, friends, etc. Fear of who is out there in iWorld ought to be roughly the same fear of that at the funny looking bloke lurking at the bottom of the tube station platform. Often this is set aside because typing in a warm room of one's own chosing seems safe.
Everyone who has blogged has experienced comments spam...
This is an invasion of your space because you did not set up the blog for this reason. It was to air your views, say something funny, and get a response to them from time to time from people roughly like you. But hidden in there is an idea (false) that only people who are like you or understand you will be commenting, when in reality it can be anyone. You are after all doing the equivalent of writing it on a piece of paper and dropping millions of copies from a light aircraft over London, Cairo, Baghdad, or Penge - with your name and address and telephone number on it (for those who understand computery things).
The flaming commenter is a lesser species of the comments spammer which can be the result of being insufficiently technically knowledgeable. Real techies are instantly (it seems) aware of such potential nuisances or traps as the automated comments into weblogs which are actually something quite other : someone trying to get your email address, or advertising or with links which can lead not to to weblogs like your own but to ones consisting of some wierd repetitive code or multiple copies of one post (it can seem).
A lot in weblogs ( can't use the term blogging anymore: just read somewhere non-British people are confused between blogging and 'dogging'), can be about things like new software, hatred of Bill Gates,etc, which are in their turn often actually self-promotion vehicles, acting like a kind of demented accumulative CV [mostly American].
In the arly days when i went on line i came across peculiar academic or sub-academic websites where suggestions were made about the value of the internet for developing multi-personalities. We, here, in the UK sent these people to loony bins, when we still had them (pychiatric hospitals not people with multiple personalities...)
Hello Mr/Ms Anonymous commentator! You sound like an interesting, informed and lucid person. I would invite you to comment with a name (invented or not, so long as it's consistent) so that I can separate you from other anonymous commentators (although in truth, this has only consisted of spammers to date).
I understand the fear of being noticed, or specifically the fear of being noticed by some nutter who may wish to do you harm, but I believe it to be largely a fallacy.
Our fear of the dangerous stranger has reached ludicrous proportions in our society. We fear that if our children walk to school they might be kidnapped; we fear that if someone is videoing them at the school concert then they might be jacking off to their image; we fear that if someone looks "a bit foreign" then they could be a suicide bomber.
Xenophobia and paranoia are tools manipulated by those in the media and in authority who prefer us to live in a state of constant mild anxiety. In this state we will consume more – whether that is more media, or more food/gadgets/lifestyle items for comfort and so keep the economy going.
The perception of the dangerous stranger is a far cry from the reality. Drugs are mostly sold to our teenagers by their friends, not strangers; the vast majority of children who are abused, are done so by people who know them, not weirdos we don't know; suicide bombers affect a tiny, minute percentage of the population – we are far more likely to be killed by a car, or even win the lottery for that matter.
We can live our lives in constant fear and paranoia, or we can enjoy the company and diversity of people, cultures and beliefs, which can enrich our lives beyond telling.
Maybe I am naïve, and maybe this will come back to haunt me, but I feel that the really dangerous people are few and far between, and more likely to have their sights set on winning the next election than worrying about personally attacking me. Yes there are psychos and offensive people out there, but they are not as commonplace as we are led to believe.
If there does come a time that I feel worried or intimidated by blogging (web-logging if you prefer) then I will stop doing it. At the moment I feel there is far more to gain and the risks are minimal.
I would welcome comments from others on this topic - are we right to be wary, or is most of it overblown hype?