14 July 2005

snark attack

interesting pondering today regarding appropriate internet fora, and the sense of invasion that comes with anonymous comments on personal blogs. on a couple of occasions in the last few weeks, there have been lengthy, irate and poorly researched anonymous comments on reed's site, all of which i am too goddamn proud to Just Ignore.

on one level, it's easy for me to understand why i feel i have to respond: the comments by "lone ranger" are, as previously mentioned, lengthy, irate and poorly researched. wait, make that "lengthy, irate, poorly researched and right-wing," and my answer becomes both clearer and more truthful.

leaving my personal failings and preoccupations aside, though, i think there is something else going on here, something that i have caught a whiff of at various other places, as well. it is just this: many places on the internet are public-access but privately purposed. many more are only semi-public. and usually, the denizens of the internets understand which places have generally private purposes and refrain from participating in these fora.

sometimes, however, somebody doesn't get it. or is trying to throw a wrench in it. at that point, you get an atrios-style comment at reed's basically-private place, and third parties who are prone to being Too Damn Meta (that's me) get all irate, or at least all prone to sociological inquiry. to wit: what cues make us know when places on the internet (particularly blogs) are privately purposed, though publicly accessible? how do ostensibly personal pages sometimes make the leap between those categories?

food for thought, at least.

here is what i wrote to the lone ranger, whose own blog, it must be noted, does not support comments.

"Lone Ranger,"

I wish you would stop ranting anonymously at my good friend. That is poor, cowardly internet ethics. If you knew Reed to any real extent, you would understand that he is hardly representative of "the left," whatever that is.

Reed's site is, I think, primarily designed to be a place for his friends to find and engage him and each other in a light-hearted way. We are a well-scattered bunch! And while the internet is obviously a public forum in a more-than-nominal way, it is customary to respond anonymously only to posts at sites designed for a larger (hence anonymous) public. Because of your behavior on the blog (see, e.g., the criticism in the above paragraph), it is clear that you do not know Reed well. Perhaps a different forum would be more appropriate for you.

I can only guess that you are a person who desperately needs personal interactions, and that you post inappropriately on personal sites for that reason. Please consider this e-mail my invitation to engage me, personally, on political issues that are of interest to you. You may also view my site at http://overpoliticized.blogspot.com.

Thank you, and have a nice day.