Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Anonymity = Alienation?

My fundamental philosophic stance is that all the wisdom you could ever possibly need can be found in the works of the Movie, TV, and Pop Song industries. Alien Nation (the movie) poses the suggestion that not knowing enough about the realities of your neighbors existence can be perilous indeed. I'm not sure that the title Anon Nymity would have had the same effect.

We already know much about any "anonymous" message source on the net, simply by their appearance in a particular media/forum and their mode of expression, and we constantly glean further insight as the expression continues. At some point not too far distant from the beginning the autobiographic data (a/s/l for example) becomes not only unnecessary but actually an impediment to the clarity of the picture we have assembled. While it may be arguably more accurate, depending on our own abilities and proclivities, it will not provide the diligent with any more useful understanding of the person concerned.

Many of those passing ships of 'net night with whom I am most sympatico are strangers to me, not only people whom I have never met face to face, but people whose names I don't know, don't want to know, and may never have the opportunity to discover. They are no less friends or allies, no more alien, for being anonymous. On the net, everyone knows who the dogs are.

You may think that getting to know your neighbors will make you safer, and for some people safety is not the biggest thing, it is the only thing. But when your neighbor's a crackhead gunrunner (or simply a garden variety arsehole), knowing too much for your health is also a distinct possibility.

The problem becomes one such that you can only know what's best in retrospect, and so we confront daily the basic challenge to our bravery or cowardice: will we stand for identity or anonymity? Will we insist on identity as a precursor to conversation? Ditto anonymity? Will we insist on no-one insisting on anything? Will we, perhaps, disappear up our own fundamental orifice as this paragraph seems to have done . . . .

If text is phallic, and anonymity is prophylactic, what then of marketing?
Is it rape as Jeneane has suggested?
Given its essential commercial nature is it prostitution, as I might assume?

Is it simply folks fucking with each other in ways that some of us find distasteful?

Could it be that our disapproval is no more than prudish bigotry?

The only guarantee of anonymity is complete silence, just as the only safe sex is that which you have with your right hand (or index finger, depending on your peculiar tastes in "digital ministrations"). Even the rapists cannot help but reveal themselves, wrapped in corporate latex and lurking in shadowy banner ads though they may be.

Sadly, but truly; prophylactics, like analogies, are inadequate substitutes for the real thing.

This perhaps is what is most disgusting about marketing. The constant loud insistence of intimacy but the simultaneous refusal to engage in any but the singular obsessive unilateral agenda. The implicit deception of it.

Too often alienation results from knowing too much, when what you really want is not sex at all, just Hokey Pokey ice cream.

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