Monday, July 4, 2011

OwnUpDude — Vanquishing the Tyranny of Anonymity

Fourth of July, 2011

Let’s start a movement…
In fact, let us, here and now, start to conquer the scourge of the Digital Age.
There are many scourges: war, famine, preventable disease.
But these are scourges from the mists of antiquity. We should have dealt with them long ago — we just didn’t.
The scourge of the Digital Age is the tyranny of anonymity. Angry, bitter, bigoted voices, hiding under the cloak of anonymity, dominate discourse on the Web.
What begins as intelligent discussion — on almost any subject — quickly deteriorates into insane raves followed by fruitless attempts at rebuttal.
Here we have the most advanced form of communication the world has ever known, and almost every commentary provokes twisted responses from disguised discussants.
No shortage. Let’s start with Erasing Hillary. Back in May, a now-famous photo showed the White House team as they tracked the killing of Osama bin Laden. Then, a hyper-Orthodox Jewish newspaper doctored the photo to eliminate Hillary Clinton and the other woman in the room. Showing women in a room with men was against their religion.
Nice story on extreme religious belief in the 21st century. But when the San Francisco Chronicle ran the story on its website, almost instantly, anonymous responders started attacking Jews, women, Hillary, just about everything. Most of these rabid postings were eventually removed, but if they'd had to say who they were in the first place — to OwnUpDude — 95% wouldn’t have been posted in the first place.
Here's another. There’s a YouTube video about the northern California restaurant, The French Laundry, narrated on-camera by its creator, Thomas Keller. Keller, who’s one of the world’s most inspired chefs, looks thin. Here's the response from tokugawa14
what happened to this guy? why does he look so old and frail in this video?? does he have cancer? hope he dies from it.
“hope he dies from it.” Do you think “tokugawa14” would have typed this poisonous phrase if he’d had to sign his name to it… if he'd had to OwnUpDude?
And even worse, here's a threat of murder. It’s an anonymous response to a YouTube video about a protest strike on the Caribbean isle of Anguilla. That brought on this response from ‘anguillalaw:
You piece of shit niggers.
I'm tracking your black asses down and capping you one by one

These anonymous haters are like the Ku Klux Klan; they scare innocents while they hide beneath hoods.
A person can pretend to be an army. A man can pretend to be a woman. A coward can — and often does — pretend to be a hero. They can spew the most vicious, hate-filled garbage and never be held accountable.
Not only they can, they do. Hate speech has become the norm on the Web.
It’s my contention that it would stop being the norm about 20 minutes after we stopped allowing the haters to hide behind anonymity.
I want to do something more than wring my hands about it. I want to start an anti-anonymity campaign. I want it to begin right here in New Zealand. On Radio New Zealand. On the Jim Mora Show. And I want it to start right now.
I also want listeners to participate, to contribute their ideas as well as their concerns. To come up with solutions of their own.
I've come up a name for the movement. I even bought the domain name. From this point on and forevermore, we shall be known as OwnUpDude.
I have some solutions to the problem as well.
First, never comment on the Web without signing your name.
Second, never respond to anonymous comments except to say, “Sorry, but I don’t respond to anonymous comments. OwnUpDude, and I’ll be glad to talk to you.”
Third, if you run a blog or website, start your new policy today: “From now on, no more anonymous comments here. OwnUpDude and stand behind your words.”
If you don’t run a blog or website but contribute to them, suggest to the webmaster that she do the same.
But whatever you do, let’s start the movement right here, right now.
Let the change begin.
I'm Jules Older, and I approve this message.


  1. Hi Jules, What a good idea, consider it done. Jayne Hunter

  2. Thanks, Jayne. And, or course, thanks for starting this discussion/conspiracy/movement by owningupdude.

  3. You have my support- and I enjoyed listening to you on the radio this afternoon

    Chris Jones (Wellington, NZ)

  4. Thanks, Chris. I've sent the commentary/discussion to writers from New Zealand to Olde England, and they're supporting, too.

    We've let these cyberbullies, these digital Klansmen, ruin what should be the beautifully enlightening experience of the Web for too long.

    But no mo. Time to ownupdudes.

  5. The movement grows.
    We're now featured on