Ban the Screen Name – Part 2

Last September I railed on the idea that the concept of screen names should not give people the ability to post whatever the heck they want using them (click here for the original post).  Anonymity breeds contempt, and apparently Leonard Pitts, Jr., of the Miami Herald agrees.  His column today is aptly titled, “Anonymity brings out the worst instincts.”

Mr. Pitts’ states the following:  “The fact that on a message board — unlike in an old-fashioned letter to the editor — no one is required to identify themselves, no one is required to say who they are and own what they’ve said, has inspired many to vent their most reptilian thoughts.”

Amen to that, Mr. Pitts.  It seems those with a clever screen name believe they can write whatever they want without impunity simply by hiding behind their screen name.  Like the person with the really clever (sarcasm duly noted) screen name of ‘jackabassalope’ that replied to Mr. Pitts’ column today.

A while back, a local cyclist was killed by a hit-and-run driver.  The anonymous comments posted on the newspaper’s website were downright scary – including several people that said that he deserved to die because cyclists are a menace to cars.  Would these people have been so cruel and uncaring as to make these public comments if they had to use their real name?  No way – and you can’t convince me otherwise.

We are free to say whatever is on our minds – that’s a fact.  But we should all ‘man up’ to our thoughts and opinions by signing our real name to them.  If you must seek the safety of hiding behind your screen name, then I can only deduce that you are too cowardly to let family and friends know what you really think and believe.  Perhaps they’d be shocked at your true feelings and opinions??  What would your mother think if she knew you were the one who wrote that a cyclist deserved to die because you consider him to be a menace??  My guess is she wouldn’t like it very much…

Thank you, Mr. Pitts, for advancing this debate.  I hope something positive comes of it.

Until then, I’ll steer clear of message boards and the anonymous wing-nuts that spew their nonsense on them.

~ by chuckmattina on March 31, 2010.

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