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The Mudcat Cafesj

User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Fed up Posting anonymously (184* d) RE: Posting anonymously 13 Jul 01

Don Firth,

Thanks for the olive branch. I love olives!

Having revealed that private piece of information, I think I'd like to maintain the right to privacy I've been defending here. I'm sure everyone would like to know more about me. Its a natural curiosity we all share. But it isn't innocent.

It is always part of the old ways of creating human communities. The Internet is about new ways of creating human communities. I'm just more comfortable with the latter than the former. Why?

Being surrounded by known quantities makes it easy to cooperate, so the psychologists and sociologists claim.

Yet, they haven't yet figured out that pesky "familiarity breeds contempt" part which results in faction fighting, ethnic cleansing, religious wars, wars for turf between neighbors, etc. And now, here on the Internet, flame wars.

There is always a point where things break down. Ambiguity is often a destabilizer of the known, yet it is something all of us must come to terms with in our lives, just as Jon suggests. It is the grey areas where people feel uncomfortable. The older you get, the more you learn to live in those grey areas with ease. Unless yours is a personality that doesn't tolerate ambiguity well, and there may be some with those intolerances here.

The problem here, it seems to me, is that there are a number of people who believe their opinions and identities to be so important, that they need to be recognized by others for just those things--and who wish everyone to know it is THEIRS. Accountability is important to people like this. They are the people who have problems with ambiguity, and were the ones contantly trying to expose the identities of the Lone Ranger, Spiderman, Superman, etc. They are all known "mystery hero" identities. Yet, we also know they also had their anonymous ones too, which they guarded with their lives. Sometimes we never know the identity of the masked man, the great and powerful Oz, the superhero know only as ___________.

They are also fictional creatures. We are real human beings. We aren't mythological heroes and heroines.

As someone said in another forum once about masking of identity, because somebody robs the local convenience store in a Richard Nixon mask, doesn't mean we need to ban Halloween to make the shoppers safe.

I'll grant you, there aren't many who feel a joyous sense of celebration and freedom when encountering strangers with masked identities. But I'm hopeful there will be more of us all the time who don't need to be so stridently and strictly identified as "me" and all others as an easily identifiable "you" or "them". We can learn to contribute without the need to be recognized for it--it is much easier to do altruistic work when your ego isn't always in teh way.

To test that theory, get a copy of a book of photographs done by a Native American photographer recently--can't remember the name. Anyway, he went around to all sorts of Native American luminaries, and asked them to put on the Lone Rangers mask. Title of the book has something to do with Lone RAnger and Tonto. Anyway...

Pow! Astounding transformations. Deeply disturbing images. Really agitated people. Putting on the Masked Whiteman's face really did a number on everyone's thinking who participated.

Fascinating read. Might enlighten a few folks here, and unsettle their certainties a bit.

Again, best of luck to those of you looking to improve the forum. It can be done, even with the destabilizing influence of some people choosing anonymity.

And please try to remember--unless and until you've had your anonymity violated in a really serious way (and I wouldn't wish that on anyone, so I hope it never happens to any of you) you may not be able to understand why some people have such strong feelings about it.

Thanks for the olives!


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