11 August 2007

Not being there

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Not being there
The New York Times Magazine published a short essay on anonymity online:

“Anonymity, it turns out, can serve two opposite interests: fantasy (an escape from the self) and manipulation (a reinforcement of the self).

None of the social rules that people born before, say, 1970 learned in real space prepare them for moral accountability in cyberspace. Does e-mail have the status of chitchat, or of an affidavit? Is sock-puppeting like shooting your mouth off in a bar and saying, when asked, that your name is none of anyone’s business? Or is it like making a false filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission?”

In the end it is an old conundrum, he says, and refers back to Shakespeare’s Henry V, who disguised himself as a common soldier to rally the restive English forces with a pep talk that few would have believed had it been given in the King’s own name.

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