web analytics
February 28, 2015 / 9 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


To Be (Anonymous) or Not to Be

Although I allow people to post anonymously (albeit with at least an alias) I would prefer that people stand by their words and not be afraid of them.
Anonymous

Last Tuesday, CrossCurrents featured an article by Rabbi Yaakov Menken challenging anonymity on the internet.

I find myself mostly in agreement with it. Although I allow people to post anonymously (albeit with at least an alias) I would prefer that people stand by their words and not be afraid of them.
But as Rabbi Menken pointed out there are sometimes repercussions to using your own identity that can harm you professionally, which has nothing to do with standing by your view.
There are some Charedi people who comment anonymously on my blog who are prominent personalities. And their views are almost always among the more intelligent ones. But often they go against conventional wisdom of that community. Had they identified themselves, it could hurt them professionally in their own community. I am not talking about members of the Agudah Moetzes or the like. But they are nevertheless well known Charedim who could be hurt if their identities were to be made known.
I understand that and respect it. But that is different from a rabbinic leader whose very identity is defined by membership to a group that has “Gedolim” in its title. There – anonymity has no place.
The fact is that Rabbi Menken never did defend the anonymous rabbinic personality spoken about by Rabbi Adlerstein in the original post that eventually generated this one. In fact his own silence on the matter actually seems to endorse my own view of the matter. Professional harm was not likely the case with this individual.
When it comes to commenting on a blog being anonymous in your comments is a double edged sword. On the one hand it allows you to say what you really think without suffering any personal consequences.  If truth is the main concern one might think that anonymity is the best way to get it. You can speak your mind without fear. This is the way to know what people really think. There is no holding back or mincing words.
The problem is that there are unintended consequences to that type of candor. Anonymity allows mean-spiritedness and coarseness of language without the slightest care about how that affects the people you are challenging.  It was almost as if there were elements of hatred about the person you are attacking.
Making vile comments instead of arguing on merit may be cathartic. But it is also harmful. Abusive language is harmful not only to the victim of the attack but to the attacker.
Freeing up rage is not a good thing. It also shows a flaw in your character. A flaw that needs to change. Sadly it reveales that there are so many people who are vile and disgusting by nature but hide it in their daily lives. (That they keep it under wraps and hidden is good. But that their nature to be vile and disgusting is not good.)
But isn’t a civilized society all about taming the savage beast in all of us? Civilization (not to mention a Torah Hashkafa) should teach us to hold back these negative impulses and treat every human being with dignity, even when we strongly disagree. That is the kind of person that is respected among peers. When people want to continue to get that kind of respect they do not speak in vile and insulting language. They speak in respectful tones.
But the inner beast in some of us wants to let it all hang out. Anonymity on the internet provides an opportunity.
The desire to insult people you disagree with is an ugly character trait. Those who are predisposed to it would do well to learn to control those impulses and never let them see the light of day.  The best way to do that online is to use your real name when you comment. In that way civil discourse will be furthered. And your own character will continue to be refined.
If one must remain anonymous even for legitimate reasons, they should write their comments as though they were using their real names.
Dovbear - who himself chooses to be anonymous – is a good example of why he shouldn’t be. His writing is sometimes very nasty. A luxury he affords himself because of that anonymity.  While I may agree or disagree with him, I find it very distasteful when he writes that way – and that occasionally it crosses the line of respecting human dignity. I would be willing to bet that this is why he guards his identity so religiously. He does not want people to think of him the way they do about “Dovbear.”
In a very self-serving way he thus tries to actually make an argument for anonymity as a better way of communicating ideas. Anonymity – he says – forces respondents to consider the argument rather than focus on the identity. That would be true if it were not accompanied by the insults that frequently come with anonymous comments.
He makes note of the fact that Rabbi Menken actually misused the knowledge he thought he had gained googling a commenter who used his real name. Rather than focusing on the content of his message he focused on the individual  and used it to discredit him rather than respond to comment. But googling that name produced information about someone else with that name.
Dovbear is right about that. Rabbi Menken was wrong. But that does not diminish his point  about lowering the level of discourse when the comments are made anonymously.
Bottom line for me is that if one wants to argue with me or some of the other commenters, please do it as respectfully as you can. It will generate a far better discourse, make for a lot less hurt feelings, and make you a better person. And it will make my life a lot easier.
Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “To Be (Anonymous) or Not to Be”

  1. Dani Klein says:

    I agree with the author here. Majority of the anonymous posts I see on the web coming from the frum/yeshivish/chasidic community are nasty and sometime appalling, which is the antithesis of what the Torah teaches us to be.

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the Western Wall ahead of his speech next week at the US Congress.
Netanyahu Visits Western Wall before Leaving for US
Latest Blogs Stories
Herzog & Livni

AMERICAN INTERFERENCE in ISRAELI ELECTIONS is IMMORAL and 1000% CHUTZPADIK!

Baruch Marzel (left) and Hanin Zoabi

Extremism from Jews is considered a “danger;” Arab extremism and anti-Jewish terror is “legitimate”

Gaza-flood-300x168

It was in fact Israel, not Palestinians or journalists, who began spreading the older photos, in order to generate credibility for the “slander” angle.

3 Episodes from the Book of Esther

Next week we celebrate Purim, more relevant and illuminating in light of current events than ever

“They all attack each other” is how David described campaign tactics. “Welcome to politics, my son,”

Most Israelis think kowtowing to US demands to get on Obama’s “good side” won’t work and isn’t right

Big questions this week: Does materialism make people happy? Can one be happy with what they have?

A Rosh Yeshiva guessed 60% of bochurim in Israel’s yeshiva system belong there only 3-4 yrs post HS

Wednesday evening 25th of February there’s just the event for Anglos to attend, The Anglo Vote!

3 men pin the terrorist. In the white shirt is Jerusalem’s Mayor Barkat, taking a hands-on approach

The necessity for setting financial goals and how to realize your life’s dreams.

Not long ago Israelis waited nightly during campaigns for TV broadcasts of election campaign movies

I heard men singing…I saw men dancing. Can you imagine? It’s literally FREEZING out there! WOW!

Lapid is not anti-Haredi; He’s pro-Haredi in his way, wanting them to flourish. and join society

Israelis don’t want anyone but Bibi as Prime Minister, no matter which party they plan to vote for.

B’Zechutan is the true Social Justice party, understanding the majority,the poor, the struggling

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Rabbi Pappenheim

Lapid is not anti-Haredi; He’s pro-Haredi in his way, wanting them to flourish. and join society

Copenhagen Great Synagogue

If Bibi is in the US already Pres. Obama MUST meet with the leader of America’s closest ally!

Sherut Leumi is the national service many women choose in lieu of military service-

My understanding of Footsteps is that they have no religious – or anti-religious agenda.

A violent confrontation between 2 groups erupted at the Ponevezh Yeshiva; dozens injured

There should be more information about intimacy disseminated to young people before they get married

Scenario: When you and your spouse got married you were on the same page religiously; now…

In the Hareidi world, Torah study is worshipped to the exclusion of all else. Nothing else matters

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/to-be-anonymous-or-not-to-be/2013/01/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: