*This may just be the guy behind all of those anonymous comments you are receiving.
I'd like to point out a pair of good posts on social networks and online identity. Petteri attempts to map out how his experience online has been, and how he might go forward online in the future. In addition, there's a reflection in the comments section on the social pressures and potential behavioral controls contained within groups like Facebook, Twitter, and even amongst us bloggers.
Petteri and commenter Nella Lou both talk about culling down online connections, and trying to be more focused. I can relate to this. Although perhaps in my case, it's been more that my reading and responding activities have been shifting, and - thankfully - I'm finding it much easier to opt out of online dramas, and to drop off attention to blogs and connections that just serve as diversions or do nothing but stir up emotional reactions.
Katherine has a totally fascinating post about anonymity and identity online. One thing that really rang true for me is a sense of being accountable for your words and actions online, and that doing things like commenting anonymously often are motivated by a desire to hide something. Not only do people act poorly while anonymous, but some also act overly polished, portraying themselves as almost enlightened figures.
And then there is this:
Online, I am drawn to those who allow themselves to be vulnerable and to those who engage in meaningful, personalized dialogue, by way of comments in various platforms. Recently, I also noted how much more connected I feel when someone uses my first name–especially if emphasized, i.e., more than just in the greeting–in our interactions. And as a Buddhist practitioner, it has become virtually untenable for me to be anything but integrated in my online activities.
I feel the same. In fact, I find that even when someone fiercely disagrees with me online, when it's a someone who has a name and a face - someone who's blog I have read or someone who I know in my everyday life - it makes the exchange more intimate. It might also be more painful to go through as well, but that's the risk of vulnerability.
Anonymous comments often feel more abstract, even if they are filled with wonderful reflections. The same goes for anonymously run blogs, especially if those blogs rarely or never delve into the author's personal life. I have actually read a few blogs by people who leave no particular identity traces in their blog profiles, but who are so expressive and intimate in their writing content that it doesn't matter. However, the more intellectual, philosophical or political blogs run anonymously just aren't as compelling to me, and I sometimes wonder what an author's motivations are to keep their identity hidden.
Saying all of this, I also feel that for people who are in dangerous territories - like in extremely oppressive countries or someone writing about abusive relationships while trying to get out of one - anonymity is quite appropriate.
So, overall, what interested me about both of the posts I linked to is a sense of examining one's motivations for online activity, and trying to apply the wisdom of our spiritual lives to whatever we are doing here.