Monday, June 02, 2014

The dishonesty behind anonymity and pseudonymity.

How you say?  Carnival is over.

I know people think they can say anything they want online and we do.  I also know there can be good reason to remain anonymous and that it is permitted - however ...

I don't like it.  It's very often dishonest.  I've said it before and I'm saying it again.  I can cite examples of such dishonesty - I save them to my spam folder.  Some call it cowardice - I'm not sure about that - it strikes me more as hypocrisy.  I know the anonymous like being anonymous or using a pseudonym - that's fine.  If you know me or comment regularly here, I prefer you let me know who you are and we can discuss your issues openly.  You can call me out, accuse me of anything you like - just do it openly.  However, if you don't want to be associated with me or my blog, or let it be known you read me, or if you don't want others to know your true character - don't visit the blog or place comments here.  It's a simple solution.

Anyway, I ran across a great post by Fr. Angelo Mary on a slightly different issue wherein he discusses the problems associated with online anonymity and pseudonymity.

There is a new mobile app called Yik Yak that purposes to be an anonymous bulletin board especially useful on college campuses by which persons within the local area can post anything they want up to 200 characters. Needless to say, it is all the rage, not only on college campuses, but high schools as well. Parents and mental health professionals have already raised concerns. I hardly need to add any details. What you imagine is probably not as bad as the reality.
This is the cold-hard context of Internet anonymity and pseudonymity, just as applicable to the Catholic world as to the non-Catholic. How is it that we have come to see delayed adolescence and Machiavellianism as tools to be used in the service of the Church? Face it, the Internet is an occasion of sin for some of us, not just because only because of its more lascivious aspects, but also because it allows us to be unaccountable for our real choices, especially when those choices do harm to others.
The Internet is a place where adults must act the part. There are no baby-sitters in the blogosphere. If you choose to be anonymous or pseudonymous, when you ought to be truly accountable, no one is going to stop you. If you calumniate your sphere’s whipping boy, you’ll get plenty pseudonymous pats on the back and you can delete any comment you don’t like with impunity. If you comment on your own post under a different name so you can say things you would otherwise blush to say, no one will know the difference. But in so doing you act the part of a coward. And to cover it over in the pious language of humility, self-effacement and the service of the Church is not only self-deception, it boarders on the blasphemous.
As it turns out this post seems to me more in-line with my mysticism series than at first was evident to me. False mysticism finds an uncountable number of pretexts to say that God is speaking through us, and that we are speaking for him. The pretended mysticalways has the high moral ground. That is the one thing that cannot be questioned and that justifies everything else. And now we have the school of pseudonymous prophets who speak for Christ against the bishops, the pope, the Church and anyone who has the audacity of not going along with it.
It is a blessing that information has been democratized. I am most thankful. That false prophecy has been democratized, not so much. But that it has now also been made anonymous—that is a real bummer. It’s the Tower of Babble, behind the curtain and on steroids. Yakety-yackety-yak.
The image of the anemic adolescent, dwelling in his mother’s basement like a nocturnal animal, scouring the nether regions of the Internet and uploading viruses is not entirely a caricature of the issue at hand. Granted, it is not the same thing, but neither is it wholly different and that ought to tell us something. These are not the kind of secrets we ought to be keeping. Such behavior has nothing to do with the mysterious character of the Eucharist and it has no parallel with the legitimate defense of our sanctuaries and sacred rites.
The Internet hiding places that have become the new normal of Catholic cultural life are not like the enclosed space of the Upper Room, or the catacombs of the persecuted Christians. They certainly are nothing like the sanctuaries of our churches, or the austere caves of the prophets of God. No, these hiding places are merely the cyber-dungeons of a few punks who continue to resist the accountability of adulthood, and who do more harm to the Church than their teenage-like brains are capable of processing.
The whole thing is a scourge upon the Church, which we probably deserve. That the Church Militant bares the torch for Saul Alinski is, to say the least, ironic. But at least Alinski was a grown up enough to put his name on his own lies. Let’s at least stop pretending that this is the high moral ground of the spiritually enlightened. It is definitely not.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Father - but I knew who you were before. Haha! I don't mind pseudonyms with some sort of identity, as it were.

    2. I 've been thinking about using my name for awhile now and this post made a lot of sense. I don't comment elsewhere for various reasons. I feel at home here. Thanks, Terry.

    3. Thanks Father - you are most kind. You are always welcome here.

  2. Loneliest place in Rome. This is your second pseudonym - the other was rejected as well. Blogger is free - just start your own blog - you say no one will read you, but they will - it is on my blog no one will read you.

    You say this post is self-serving. Such insight! Of course it is.

    Eat, pray, love - in the loneliest place in Rome.

    Just remember - my email is on the sidebar - you can write to me all you want there - and if you introduce yourself, I just may allow you to comment from time to time. ;)


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.