Anonymity on Line

A letter by a professor asks, in todays daily Telegraph this question.

Why do we behave differently on line?

Something I have often wondered,and have asked a few times. If I was speaking to my neighbours or a stranger,and they said something I did not agree with ,I will not turn around and tell them that they are “an idiot” ,or that they make you sick by the way they write or feel about something,then why do we do it on line?

Is it just because we can?

The letter asks a simple question of the editors, that if they did not know who the letter writer is, those views will not be published in a newspaper. Now that everyone can be on line anything can be said and no authentication is needed. We can for example call someone an alcoholic, a drug addict, or we can blame women on being on the “game”,without having any evidence to back up our claim or the fear of retaliation.

Though I am not a proper journalist(whoever that might be),but I did an online diploma in feature writing and journalism, and a short training with the BBC, in a bit of broadcasting. So I am  very aware of the laws of libel, slander, plagiarism and other little pitfalls, of which you are made very aware before you put your writing in the public domain.

ANd I always think through before I write a blog if I am in breach of any of these.

It does not however need journalistic training,but a bit of common sense and good manners to treat others as you wished to be treated yourself. This simple practice has served me well, while I blog and comment.

The professor goes on to say that “now that everyone is on line,it should be re organised to make anonymity difficult rather than the norm”.

Do you agree? Will you behave differently if everyone knew who you are, or would it not make a difference?

And why do people descend on personal abuse, is it frustration or inability to control anger? Or are they using such pages to vent their frustrations from elsewhere in life?

I used to think that the readers of the Telegraph will be a very sophisticated, knowledgable and civilised bunch, which on the whole they are, but at times when these pages plunge into something quite un worthy, I wonder why.

So if you were not anonymous will you behave differently??

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