Monday, September 10, 2007

Anonymity Breeds Contempt

If everyone had an opinion the world might explode....

"In the old days the public vented their spleen on rogues by pelting them with rotten eggs and squashed tomatoes. The stocks were a prominent part of life -the threat of their humiliation hung over village life. In our more modern - I hesitate to say civilised - age, these rituals haven't vanished with the wooden contraptions that enacted them: they've gone online. The new electronic free-for-all better known as the internet and in particular the blogosphere has become a modern-day stocks. Its anonymity has created a 21st century arena for hurling abuse; the virtual equivalent of soggy vegetables.

Online there are no limits (last week a report dubbed the net a Wild West of crime) . It seems anything goes. Web contributors seem to have little compunction about letting it all hang out. It used to be talk radio was where nutters congregated to have their say - but there they ran the risk of the talk-show host putting them down with a scathing remark, or in extremis pulling the plug. On the net there are precious few moderators.

We all know that sitting at a computer it is easy to get carried away, to feel that because you are in a virtual medium everything you do or write is somehow separate from the real world; all those respectable judges, actors and policemen out there who have been subsequently prosecuted for downloading child porn know all about that. But from the really sick offenders to the city folk forwarding emails about their exes which end up all over the world, or to our own perhaps over emotional outpouring in an email, it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of omnipotence: the sense that your actions have no consequences. A one keen blogging friend put it to me: "Do you Know why I love blogging? Because no paper would ever print what I can get away with online."

Everyone has the odd ungenerous thought or bitchy aside but generally we keep these thoughts to ourselves. Blogs contain the remarks nobody dares say at the dinner party for fear of censure. Forget Jerry Springer and trashy daytime television, when our fingers hit the keyboard we seem to lose all sense of decency or propriety. We thought we'd moved on from pelting people with rotten eggs."

-Excepts of an article from the 'Sunday Times' by Eleanor Mills.
story was about online abuse/opinion of the McCann family
since their daughter Madeleine went missing in Portugal.

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