Sunday, April 26, 2009


What happens when we think we’re anonymous, but we’re not? As bloggers, we choose to be anonymous for many reasons, but I think that most share the desire to be judged by the content of our words and ideas, rather than the labels that we wear. What happens to the content of our words and ideas then, if we are no longer anonymous? If those reasons are more than shyness or a desire for privacy?

Studies have shown that the brain and thought are closely linked. The process of learning causes a neural pathway to be opened, such pathway carved wider and deeper each time we “re-think” that piece of information. Thus the virtue of study, of repetition, of practice.

Persons engaged in scientific research using human subjects, pollsters, attorneys, psychologists, and others whose work involves the questioning of others, know that it is very easy to taint the answers to questions by the very nature of the questions asked. That no hypothesis can ever be proven because no condition can be truly replicated. Life has happened. Test subjects do not exist in stasis waiting for the next experiment.

Pollsters–or perhaps I should say dishonest pollsters–know the value of push-polling to generate the answers they want (witness McCain’s loss in 2000).The point, is that how we think, and what we think, is changed by what happens around us. When we are anonymous, we can speak truth to power. We can open our minds, our hearts, our very souls if we so desire. I imagine that most bloggers have few readers and are content with the opportunity to unburden themselves behind the screen, knowing that they are perfectly safe.

When we are no longer anonymous - particularly when we are no longer anonymous through the actions of others - our thinking changes. We wonder who that we know is reading our words. We wonder if our boss, or our neighbor, or our friend is reading what we write. If what we write is different from the conventional thinking in our community, our workplace, our home. If so, then we are at risk. Perhaps that risk is minor - embarrassment, teasing, whispers behind hands. But perhaps that risk is major - job loss, loss of friends, shunning, bricks through windows, or worse?

We choose our own risks. We decide who we want to be when we join this internet community. We have a unique opportunity in a unique moment in history to speak and have an equal opportunity to be heard. We may speak truth to power. We may be as insightful or as trite as we choose. It is our diary, our newsletter, our boring annual Christmas letter listing our children’s accomplishments written daily. If we can, we can be heard and listened to by many.

We all have the same chance, limited only by the quality of our writing, our thinking, and our research. We are limited only by our ability to capture the interest and imagination of others. As we do, we decide who we are, who we want to be, who we allow in and how far we allow them into our lives. Just as we decide who we want to be and the risks we want to take, and what those risks are, we must allow others the same. Are their risks the same? Are the consequences of voicing my opinions the same as for someone else? Who knows? We can’t know. We don’t know. And that is why, it is the height of arrogance for anyone to decide that they know the answer to any of those questions for anyone but themselves.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.


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