One of Lanier's criticism's about the web is that it encourages irresponsible behavior. It is possible to post your comments anonymously and not have to take any responsibility for them. He views this anonymity as creating a hive mind, where people gang up on posters or even individuals who don't post whose ideas they don't agree with until they drive the poster out of the forum or make the individuals life miserable. He gives the example of a Korean TV star who committed suicide after being trashed online. He also mentions a case in the US where a teenage girl committed suicide after she was cruelly dumped by what she thought was an online boyfriend but was in actuality the mother an a teen enemy. Oddly enough Lanier comments that the mother was hounded online but does not comment on the mother's actions, which caused the initial tragedy.
Lanier advocates thinking before you post on a blog, and signing your name to the post in order to take responsibility for your actions. I have mixed feelings about this idea. I am a relatively outspoken person in "real life" and take responsibility for my actions and speech. However, I read librarian blogs, newspaper blogs, and book discussion blogs where people post anonymously. I can tell that for many of my fellow librarians, their anonymous posting is a way of venting to a sympathetic audience about their job. It is in the online equivalent of grumbling in a bar with colleagues but safer since the physical colleague may tip off your bosses about your conversation.
My questions are:
Does anonymity encourage hostile posts and trollish behavior?
Do people think that online posting is a relatively harmless way of getting out their anger and hostility without destroying their possible relationship with their target?
Do they deliberately post to destroy the reputations and possibly the lives of others?
Do these people behave in this hostile and destructive fashion in face-to-face, non-internet life?
Do you prefer to post anonymously, sign your name, or do a mixture of both. If so, why?