Bloggy Fear

September 1st, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

One chum in particular — a good friend for over 30 years — does not trust blogs. Several of us in our regularly meeting stool warmers group do blog and find his attitude amusing.

Yet, having known him for so long in so many joyful, troubled and tedious times, I have no doubt of his thinking. The short of it is blog content is not properly vetted for him and he desperately needs that. He doesn’t do ambiguity well, really not at all.

Over at Marry in Massachusetts, I carry on about this from the political angle. Not only is there a strong undercurrent for online strong identity, that is easily traceable and verifiable. Those pushing for that say much more about themselves and their companies (such as Google) than the need for source vetting.

This is yet another area where we have to marvel at the vast differences in human perception and reasoning. The pivot is ambiguity.

Some of us roll with the vaguely defined, willing to constantly pluck an idea from one pigeon hole and nestle it into another as more information appears. Others need a rigid definition of an event, concept or person, and find it very difficult to change that judgment. As expert on the subject scholar David Wilkerson writes ambiguity tolerance links to our creativity, risk aversion and emotional resilience.

My blog avoider is clear on his aversion. He believes that even noted bloggers are not properly credentialed and that their ideas are therefore not to trustworthy. Yet, he freely quotes what to me are half-baked and half-truthful statements from newspapers and online or print magazines. Those he believes and trusts.

I in contrast go much farther down the continuum toward the chaos end. I am comfortable evaluating articles and posts I don’t agree with and whose authors are unidentified or unknown to me. I pluck what I want and what is useful from the deep, wide stew of ideas and postulates. As my beloved college Greek professor, Ruby Ott, said about why she refused to look at Reader’s Digest condensed books, “I don’t want anyone chewing my food for me.”

I also have no problem filtering highly partisan liars, such as Michelle Malkin or RedMassGroup’s Rob Eno. Not only do they occasionally have something worth considering, it also pays to know what a very differently thinking adversary is claiming.

Yet it is odd indeed to read and hear the current, very steady drumbeat for halting all anonymity on the web. Google’s recent nym fight about pseudonyms and even those with legal single-word identities amusingly masks its effort to unmask users. Chairman Eric Schmidt seems to have heard ex-Facebook marketing director Randi Zuckerberg’s call to half all anonymous bloggers and commenters.

The goal sincerely seems to be prevention of fraud, bullying and other deceit. As the Financial Times’ John Gapper writes today, as corporations, FB, Google+ and others have the right to make such demands on their users. Yet he adds that trying to change the net structure to require all providers do the same is not sensible, fair or even free-market friendly.

The underlying and unspoken issue here with those self-righteously demanding strong identities is their inability to deal with ambiguity. They seem to assume that everyone will feel the same.

I’ve been blogging eight or nine years. From the beginning, my Blogger profile for those blogs has made it easy for people to find with a click or two my name and even a résumé with lots of detail. Likewise, in group blogs, like BlueMassGroup, my profile goes far beyond my a.k.a. handle massmarrier. Even that handle is a big, plain one. My first blog is a marriage-equality one, Marry in Massachusetts. The blogger name was chosen to fit the theme and remains the address, as in Even my twitter account (@whirred) shows my landing page with real name.

Over the years, I’ve gotten some nasty comments and email. On all of my blogs, I moderate comments and don’t allow obscenities, personal insults of other commenters and such. Yet, I’m surprised when from time to time I see a complaint that I am anonymous. Apparently people don’t know what that means and don’t know how the internet and blog profiles work. Meh.

I’m don’t have an inherent problem with Google+’s silly nym restrictions. I do know people with single legal names though. How stupid is that limit?

In my social circle including my blog-fearing chum, we’ve given up convincing him to try unvetted ideas, a.k.a. thinking. He honestly needs to find a trust level that makes him comfortable. I still figure he’s missing a lot.

Plus, I get a giggle knowing that he doesn’t even read this blog. Maybe I”m too nosy. I don’t miss my friends’ blog posts, even if I think their ideas are unproven and unprovable.


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