Friday 01 August 2008

Failing Etiquette Of Online Anonymity

A great strength of the internet is the online anonymity it offers to its users. This anonymity, when used in proper context, protects us from political or religious prosecution, ensures our freedom of speech, maintains transparency in the democratic process, and guarantees our rights to privacy. Yet, on the internet, anonymity is frequently misused, both intentionally and unintentionally, so to make it difficult for proponents to defend its use. At a minimum, the etiquette of online behaviors has fallen to a new low—bashing, trashing, trolling, and other antisocial misbehaviors that exist solely to confront without just cause—being mean for the sake of being mean. It underlines a fundamental flaw in human social behavior: when we no longer need to answer to our own actions, we naturally choose to be selfish, self-centered, immature, and vindictive. It is not simply a matter of a need to state an opinion honestly and anonymously, but a matter of a need to state one’s own opinion rudely with the sole intent to deflate the legitimacy of others. It may be true that proper online etiquette has never existed, but this must not stop us from pursuing it and holding ourselves to a more civil standard.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Life • Under Tech • Under World
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