Tarheeltalker

Anonymity

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?

August 21, 2011 Posted by | Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Big Mess at the Agriculture Department

The Department of Agriculture and its head, Tom Vilsack  are not really a high-profile combo. But they are sure in the news these days. Kinda reminds me of an oft-repeated comment about baseball umpires. They are doing a good job when they are not noticed. But alas, for Mr Vilsack  that will no longer be possible. Whether he even retains his job is probably open to question. Would that not be  ironic if Ms Shirley Sherrod whom he fired and  has since tried to rehire retained her job and he didn’t?

A couple of things have intrigued beyond the actual firing/re–hiring. One is the fact that the White House said it was on board with the action and then after the media firestorm began to build, the President disavowed any connection to the firing. Could not resist that disavow. Mission Impossible was always one of favorite shows.

Ok, number two was a media type David Rodham Gergen, comparing Ms Sherrod to Nelson Mandela who by the way spent 27 years in a South African prison, led the country for  a time and would have to be considered an internationally known figure. Quite  a stretch, even for the liberal media.

Finally, a comment from Ms Sherrod, but not what you might think. Her epiphany she said came when she realized that it was not black vs white but rather rich vs poor. There are many comments that one could make. Rush called  it the idea of Obamunism which isn’t bad. I remain  convinced that it does not have to be  a situation of one side vs another. But when one of Ms Sherrod’s  latest media comments ( and she is all over the media now) is that she will not appear on Fox News since they are both biased and racist . Gotta wonder  on what basis she formed her opinion, do you not?

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Congressman Unleashed

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!

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Beauty of Anonymity

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.

May 16, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Media | , , , , | 1 Comment