Thursday, February 28, 2008

What Does Your Moniker Reveal About You?

The Internet is an interesting place. It allows us to travel throughout the world without ever leaving our home town. It provides ways of building bridges without ever pounding a nail. It opens doors of opportunity to meet people who speak a different language or live under a different set of stars.

Yes, the Internet is an interesting place. Given all of these incredible possibilities to create unlimited growth in life what do most people do? Hide behind a fake moniker.

I understand that predators, identity thieves, and hackers exist, but my guess is that most people choose a fake moniker so they may not be held accountable for their actions or their words. I wonder how many people who leave nasty comments would actually say those words to the face of the individual writer. My guess is not many.

Not long ago I started reading The Huffington Post each morning. I do enjoy Alec Baldwin's blogs and Erica Jong's, but for the most part, I find THP to be no different from a number of the media channels on television -- heavily biased. That said, what amazes me more than anything onTHP is the level of nastiness contained in some of the responses to the blogs. Each blog on THP is written by a guest author whose true name and picture are included.

Granted, the level of celebrity and expertise of a number of the bloggers is what brings advertising dollars and readers to THP, but that aside, KUDOS to the celebrity writers who are courageous enough to write a blog, express an opinion, propose a thought, and take the heat. I wonder how many of the responders who enjoy no celebrity whatsoever -- the majority of the world and most likely those in their own community have no clue as to who they are -- would have guts enough to respond if their own name and picture were attached to their response. I wonder what words they would choose then, if they would even have the guts to write anything at all.

Sometimes when I venture around the web and read what people write in their comments, I get the feeling that for some people, the Internet has become their own personal dumping ground.

I have always believed that one of the measures of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. Most of us have heard it said that the true character of a man comes out when he's under pressure, but I don't agree with that statement. I believe that a person will act under pressure just how they were trained or better yet, trained themselves to act. No, I believe that another test of a man's true character is how he treats his enemy when his enemy is down. It's easy to be full of integrity and character when our friends are down, but what about an enemy?

As we listen and watch and watch and listen to the candidates running for president, I hear them calling for change, speaking of hope, talking about a new politics and I see vast numbers of people cheering louder and louder each time one of these declarations is spoken into a microphone, and yet when I read blog responses written by large numbers of these cheering crowd members [of each candidate], I wonder about the character of the followers as they hide behind their fake monikers typing vicious attacks against the blog writers or their fellow responders.

And this type of behavior is not limited to political blogs only.

Constructive criticism, agreement to disagree, thoughtful discussion, intelligent proposal of a different viewpoint are all exceptional means to the building of ideas and relationships. And each creates progression toward positive change.

If the Internet or life, in general, is a big dumping ground, then I guess we each have three choices: 1. Do we walk around the trash acting like it doesn't exist so our own personal world isn't affected? And in doing so leave the world exactly as it is. OR 2. Do we walk on top of the trash trudging upon what is in our own path and dealing only with what sticks to our own shoes? And as a result making some piles smaller but still leaving all the trash and smell behind. OR 3. Do we walk through the trash cleaning up all that we can? And as a result creating a more user friendly path for those that follow.

My hats off to bloggers, celebrity bloggers, and responders who courageously write constructive, intelligent thoughts on the Internet. Agreement with someone's opinion is not necessary to the building of an idea or a relationship bridge, nor is it necessary to the creation of change, the emergence of hope or the beginning of an era of new politics, but being open to those differences and the possibilities of growth while walking through those differences is.

If a glitch in the system occurred right now and all of the fake monikers revealed true names, I wonder how many people would find themselves scrambling to delete all of their postings.

Post as if you were to be found out.

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