I sometimes write about stuff that gets people riled up. Really really pissed off. I know this because of the amount of abuse I sometimes get in the comments. But I don’t mind. I don’t care. Words are just words and I always let a comment stand if it has even a passing acquaintance with the subject of my post. I’ve only ever moderated a handful of comments that are just plain, repeated abuse containing no reference to the discussion.
Occasionally I get threats and this makes people around me worry that they’re gonna be collateral damage when I get a bullet through my head :D. Quite a few posts of mine have generated this kind of outrage such as this one. Now I blog in a kind of semi anonymity. My name, face and general location is there for everyone to see. But it’s not so easy to find out where I live. I allow people to know that I’m in Chennai, but nothing more. I regularly ask people to try and find out where I live if they can. I attempt to cover my tracks and make sure that information never gets out. Go ahead and try and uncover it if you want. I’ll be grateful if you expose any slip up that I can correct.
There has been a shift recently in the online world with governments and corporations wanting us to use our real identities online and for different reasons. Governments like to intimidate people and it can’t do that unless they know who you are. China has now come up with rules stating that everyone has register their real name and address with their ISP even when they’re commenting anonymously on blogs *shudder*. Corporations on the other hand want to know as much as they can about you to target you for advertisements and special promotions.
But anonymity on the Internet has never been more important. Examples from India abound. The two girls who were illegally arrested for a harmless arrest and “Like” on Facebook are just one example. True, being anonymous can also bring out the worst in people. They’re more likely to verbally abuse others. But it’s a price that I for one am willing to put up with. I can separate the wheat from the chaff easily enough.
On the other hand, standing up proudly for your opinions is important too. Saying “This is me, and these are my opinions”. We have a culture of shame in India. Nothing puzzles me more than how victims of rape cover up their faces so we won’t know who they are. Why? They have done nothing wrong! They don’t need to be ashamed of anything! If you were bitten by a rabid dog you won’t cover up your face and be ashamed will you? Even those girls who were arrested for their Facebook comments on Bal Thackeray had their faces covered. Why?? Not only should they have shown their faces proudly, they needn’t have apologized either. They should have said – “This is who I am, and these are my opinions. Suck it up.” As it was, they were harassed even after “apologizing”. So what’s the use?
So for those of you who have blogs – how easy is it to find out who you are, and what are your reasons for keeping your identity a secret?