Thursday, June 14, 2007

Anonymity

It's a funny thing about anonymity, especially on the web, some people just don't care. I'm not talking about those cell phone carrying Paris Hilton wannabe tweens who wear too much makeup and have too little opinion on world issues; I'm talking about grown adults. People who supposedly pay taxes, get their oil changed every 5,000 kms and go to overpriced tourist hot-spots for their two week allotment a year.

Now, folks who turn a blind eye to privacy issues are not new, I covered it briefly before, but in some respects, that was different, as it related to walled garden type stuff: only people you know (or think you know, or think might have known) have access to your info.

The sort of lack of privacy I'm talking about are in the literary blogs I occasionally find myself at; folks there have no issue signing off their comment with their real, in-flesh, not aliased in any way, name. It's more than a little disconcerting, it's like finding out that some people's cars are not made of fiber glass and steel, but instead, artfully crafted paper mache. You have to respect the brazen optimism of it all, but it still leaves you cold. They are usually professional writers who all know each other. Or wannabe writers who want to be known. Or complete hacks who attempt writing but all that ends up coming out are various nouns and verbs that on occasion may make sense, but not on purpose. Or me.

I'm of the generation who thinks nothing of creating an elaborate alias and sticking to it throughout my internet lifespan. We're used to forum boards and blogs scattered with people like SupaSnipa92 and GorillaMonsterMax. We lob invectives and ad hominem attacks like it's a Fox News Round Table; on the other hand, we also commiserate, lend an ear, and in other ways become positively chummy with WyleSpir8 and **NerdCoreRizing**.

It's a sign of internet sophistication to keep your identity secret. A true netizen knows to keep all identity hidden from the hackers, phreakers and crackers who roam the black screened terminals of the Undernet. Pasty faced youths with keyboards literally on fire from the hell wrought havoc they bring: wielding passport numbers, credit card authorizations, drivers licenses, and all sorts and sundry numbers that you should Never Give Out. Numbers that, for better of for worse, make up the entirety of your worth to society. You are citizen number X from country Y with a credit rating of Z able to drive vehicles A, B but not C and are currently under investigation for your avid interest in Depression Era Sock puppets. These are the numbers that we try and keep safe, close to our chest, like a starving chinchilla. Any and all identifiers out in the web can, or so the wide eyed logic goes, lead to our downfall.

A veteran web surfer realizes that participating in this great network of Spyware infested sites, millions upon billions of videos of cats, and the odd treasure trove of Deep Space Nine paraphernalia, one must dip the unprotected hand into the figurative lake of piranhas. But not these writers and literary elite. No, they brazenly display their name for any and all to see. Which wouldn't be a problem, except I usually post a comment too, under the juvenile name of Niteowl. The name to a superhero of a comic book that almost nobody has read. And it's misspelled for good measure. It tends to bring into sharp relief just how ridiculous my alias is. Which, I suppose, is a small price to pay for anonymity.

4 comments:

Monkfish said...

Nice piece and a very sensible approach too. All those crazy people who post their pictures and names on neoteric sites such as Facebook, fools the lot of them.

Yours,
Nigel Charles Wood-Jones
(604) 981-8791

Niteowl said...

HAHAHHAH

Niteowl said...

By the by, some Nigel Charles Wood-Jones is going to be VERY annoyed at you, very soon.

Monkfish said...

Nigel,
You can send your complaints to raph.lloyd-williams@harpers.co.uk or telephone him on 011 44 1375 316725.