Little Mystery - Todd Thibaud (mp3)
I find Bob’s prejudices in this matter to be entirely weird.
Of the people whose pseudonyms I’ve listed above -- loyal or semi-loyal readers one and all -- Bob only knows three of them well. He knows little or nothing of the other three. Nothing, that is, except a made-up name that re-emerges with new comments.
Do they have spouses or children? What are their career interests or personal aspirations? Are they religious? Do they own firearms? Have they ever stalked someone on Facebook? Bob doesn’t know. And, more importantly, Bob doesn’t really care.*
Which is precisely why I don’t quite understand why he gets so annoyed with anonymous comments like the one he received following his Damning-With-Faint-Damnation write-up about the Avett Brothers.
The Anonymous In Question (I hereby name him “TAIQ”) wrote a sincere response to Bob’s negative slant on the Avett Brothers. He (she?) wasn’t trolling. He wasn’t insulting Bob. He was just begging to differ and sharing his own degree of interest in and passion for the band in question. I would think -- and perhaps Bob will correct me -- that the kinds of comments TAIQ offered are precisely the kind of honest counterpoints for which one might hope to receive from the outside world when writing an opinion piece on a blog.
One of my favorite movie moments of the last 20 years -- and one of the most powerful American literature moments of the last century -- is the scene where John Proctor screams and beseeches the mortal judges of his fate to leave him his name in the film adaptation of “The Crucible.” (Skip to the 3:15 mark to see the clip. Every single time I watch it, I get very misty.)
If we all had to post our names -- our real, full, completely identifiable names -- on all the doors to all the places we visit or pass by, both in the real world and online, perhaps we would be more respectful of our own decision-making. We might better honor our names and our souls if we were required to own up in toto to all our words and deeds.
But then, how to defend that the entire foundation of Bottom of the Glass is built on anonymity? From day one, Bob and I determined we could not, with sufficient comfort and confidence, write our honest and blunt opinions about things unless we keep our identities all but private. That’s right; this entire blog is written by two mostly-anonymous people who choose to reveal only what they wish to reveal about themselves.
Were our full names on BOTG, the entire tone and personality of this endeavor would shift. It would become safer, stiffer, and more vanilla than a venti Starbucks latte. Instead, having just the slightest veneer of identity protection frees us up to be a version of ourselves that need not care about our paycheck security, our colleague security, our church security, whatever.
To TAIQ and others out there in our Anonymous Universe: all we’d really like -- but don’t by any means demand -- is some basic, simple, and yes ultimately still-anonymous way of identifying you that separates you ever so slightly from all those other anonymous people we don’t know.
We both sincerely hope you’ll have been intrigued or annoyed enough to return and share in future conversations!
* - This lack of care does not speak ill of Bob. It is the natural inclination of almost all of us to not care about the life details of people with whom we have no actual expected interactions in the near or far future. It’s tough enough for most of us to care about the life details of people we actually care about and work or live with, much less those we hardly know.