Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Shall we write anonymously? (Introduction)

"On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" - so goes the saying. It's not completely true; there are ways and means; but there's a good core of truth in it. On the Internet, anyone can stick up a website just like anyone else can. You can go online and give yourself whatever nickname (or "handle", in techie-speak) you please, release whatever selection of information about yourself you please, use whatever graphic to represent your image you please - you can control your own image pretty tightly.

One thing that many, many chose to do is to be anonymous. I think I once read that 57% of those who post online in some form, do so anonymously.

The question I want to ask as a Christian is, what principles does the word of God contain relating to this? Is it right? Is it wrong? What are the factors involved? I'm sure that we agree that there are times when anonymity is not at all appropriate. If the man given the seat next to you on the airplane covered his face with a balaclava, refused to uncover his face at security and carried a passport in the name of "Groove Man", I think you might start wondering when the next flight was. We wouldn't vote for a politician who concealed everything about his real identity, or send our children to a school where the teachers all dressed up in masks and spoke in pretend voices. We'd say that these are situations where it's important to know the real identities of the people involved, and where anonymity would be either foolish or irresponsible.

In this series of posts, I'd like to present a strong argument that Internet anonymity is, in general - in fact in almost all cases - ungodly and displeasing to our Saviour. I want to argue that the godly options almost all the time are only two: make yourself identifiable, or if you've not yet grown thick enough skin, stay quiet. That is, I want to make the argument, but also to show from the Bible that it's not just my opinion, but based on the principles which God has revealed to us. Stay tuned!

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