Letters

Friday, March 28, 2014

Transcript

Brooke and Bob read a few of your letters and comments.

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Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone

Comments [1]

Once again, Bob let us know that he thinks commenters should "stand behind their words" by using their real names. While I understand the real problem of incivility that Bob wants to address, for the reasons that follow, I don't think "real names" are a solution.

Consider the limited utility of real names? When reading comments, does Bob first look to see if the comment is signed with a real name, or does he read the comment for the content and then see who wrote it? Which part of the comment has primacy for Bob, the author's ideas or his identity?

Would Bob feel better about this post if I signed it with a first and last name? How would Bob know that "Bill Smith" was actually my name? And even if he could confirm that, how would he know which "Bill Smith" I was? Would that name tell him anything about the merit of my comment? I don't think so, but I seriously wonder if Bob thinks so.

But, because I use the same pseudonym [and sign-off] consistently and across sites on the internet, a quick Google search of "-- MrJM" would tell Bob a great deal about whether I'm a commenter of substance or a crank or some combination of the two. And because I have no authority beyond the value of what I've written -- you don't know my education, my training, my professional status -- my thoughts and ideas must stand on their own. My post aren't proped-up with "Jay Em is a noted authority on the subject of this rant", so I have to make certain that my arguments can bear the persuasive load.

The First Name, Last Name signifier was an identification scheme developed when we were moving from large villages to very small cities, I strongly question whether it is the solution to a problem of accountability on a global communication platform.

All that said, I think Bob is fantastic (I also love the sweartastic Bob that I hear on "Lexicon Valley") and I only leave this post because Bob has demonstrated the capacity to change his mind about matters where he's taken a very public (and sometimes very strident) stance. Even more than his weapons-grade wit, his intellectual honesty has impressed me. So I humbly hope he will consider what I've written and perhaps see that "real names" are no panacea when it comes to internet commentary.

All the best, etc.
-- MrJM

P.S. I love Brooke too, but lets face facts: When some nameless internet weirdo says stuff like that, it's pretty creepy!

Mar. 31 2014 07:47 AM

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