I remember well a scene from the first Mission Impossible movie in which Tom Cruise (aka Ethan Hunt) meets “Job” wonderfully played by Vanessa Redgrave, and asks about the name Job. She responds that ” anonymity … is like a warm blanket.” Been thinking about that quote a lot recently in the context of blog/article comments made on the internet.
Most of the comments that I read are made by a person under a name other than their own. ( I know, so is my blog.) It is interesting to notice the screen names that people choose and speculate about why they were chosen. My thought has long been that these names are often used as a cover to make comments or observations that the person would never make using his/her own name. But, you might say that one uses a screen name to keep one’s identity from falling into the wrong hands, so to speak. I think that is only true in a minority of instances. My reasoning goes thusly. The comments on polarizing figures or issues such as President Obama or Rush Limbaugh or Michele Bachmann or healthcare or any number of others are filled with such vitriol that one is almost embarrassed to one’ s self identified with them.
Even when I read comments that mirror my own, I am chagrined to note the level of anger that is involved. I can make comments ( and so can you) about a political figure or issue without becoming tarred with my own brush and still be effective.
It is amusing to note that newspapers and I suppose magazines have long-held to the policy of rarely if ever publishing an anonymous comment and I like that. The few times that I have written in response to a newspaper article were not situations where I minded being identified.
In the wild, wild west of the internet the rules, such as they are much different. Makes me wonder if I need to rename my blog?
Anonymity is like a warm blanket. So said Vanessa Redgrave,aka Job to Tom Cruise in the 1996 movie Mission Impossible. Betcha that Rep Bob Etheridge from North Carolina’s second district would pay dearly for a measure of that sort of invisibility about now.
The 7 term Democrat has been caught in the full glare of the media spotlight due to an event that occurred just last week. Here’s a guess that it is his first appearance on Drudge and he hopes his last. What did the still part-time farmer and former Superintendent of Public Instruction for North Carolina do to garner such attention?
Seem sthat last week he was on his way to a Nancy Pelosi fundraiser when he encountered a couple of college students with a video camera who asked him if he supported the Obama agenda. He demanded to know who they were and when they declined , he grabbed the camera from one person and grabbed the other by the wrist. He persisted in asking for identification and when they did not resond he grabbed one by the neck and shoulders, refusing to let go. The individual finaly slipped away.
Today, a few days later, Etheridge finally released a statement. ( WTVD, the ABC affiliate in Raleigh had previously left 11 messages requesting comment.) He acknowledges having seen the video and expresses his regret for his reaction and apologizes to all involved.
Now what? The aforementioned tv station confirmed with DC metropolitan police that no charges had been filed, which is quite fortunate for Rep. Etheridge. Was it an a ssault ? Follow the link on Drudge and watch the 1: 11 for yourself. I watched and was disturbed by Etheridge’s reaction, regardless of whether he was provoked. He had a rather tight grip on the wrist of one individual and refused to let go when asked. This is the same congressman who has encouraged college students to get involved in politics.
Granted, there may have been an element of entrapament, emphasis on maybe. That in no way justifies a physical confrontation. Very curious as to what the reaction will be inside the Beltway. Any doubt that it will be partisan in nature? Good thing Rush will return tomorrow. This is right up his alley!
Anonymity can be a great thing. There was a great scene in the first Mission Impossible movie in which “Job” tells Ethan Hunt, aka Tom Cruise, that it is “a …warm blanket”. Of course, Vanessa Redgrave delivered the line quite well. And so it is, warm, comforting, even valuable at times.
In cyberspace, anonymity is much more prevalent than in the real world . I am even an example given the name of my blog. Why, no reason, not trying to hide anything, but perhaps just to promote my pro Tar Heel feelings. Many blogs are writen under the real name of their authors while others like the nom de plume approach, as my brief blogroll indicates.
But, when we enter the brave new world of comments, it seems the warm blanklet theory is by far the dominant appraoch. And, we often, put cute little pictures beside those comments. Once again, that defines me.
One interesting thing about that approach is the comments one can read about various online articles. I frequently read online . articles in the Daily Advance , our local newpaper. Mnay of them provide room for comment and receive comments, they do. All are anonymous, of course, some are crude, some are vicious, some are uninformed and some will make you laugh or even reduce you to tears.
I have done a very informal, unscientific survey of theses comments. For example, an article about proposed changes in school food service drew 80 comments, while one about about a plastic bag ban drew 68 . An unfortunate accident that resulted in a vehicle crashing into and through a storefront drew 13.
Now, does any of this mean something, maybe yes, maybe no. In the olden days when I walked uphill both ways to school , newspapers would not publish a comment without a name and that may still be the case. Theory, if you are willing to say it, own up to it. Now, from time to time, I see an online comment in the paper’s print edition, nameless of course.
Only half jokingly, I have mentioned to my wife that some online comments that I have read argue for a literacy or at least a civility test to be applied. But today, we largely serve as our own filter or editor, if you please. Perhaps the time has come for an online writing motto.
Caveat Scribus – let the writer beware.
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