Don’t Be a Jerk

Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Portrait, by Joseph Siffred Duplessis

I’ve been intending to write this post for a long time, but the malevolent and snarky comments following Alan Patricof’s piece on Business Insider earlier today reminded me how overdue I am in writing this.  In full disclosure, Alan is my old boss, I consider him a friend, and I largely agree with the content of his article.  However, that’s not the point of this blog post:

Dear Anyone Who Writes Malicious Anonymous Comments on the Web,

You are a coward.  A giant, pathetic, spineless coward.

Although I appreciate that the Internet provides tremendous anonymity for its users, too often this right is abused.   Perhaps some sites can figure out who we are through IP addresses and cookies, but for the most part this concealment of identity allows confidential, embarrassing, or otherwise inappropriate information from being publically revealed.   Simultaneously, I cherish that the United States values freedom of speech as one of our fundamental beliefs.  I don’t propose we make any legislative changes around privacy and/or the First Amendment, but rather, I’d like to see online communities stop accepting such blatant cowardice furnished through anonymous posts.

Even Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s most famous anonymous writers via Poor Richard’s Almanack, was never mean-spirited simply for the sake of his own entertainment.   However, one of the commenters to the Business Insider article (who refused to reveal their real name) told Alan to “go do something useful with [his] life” as well as a few other childish insults.

Not everyone has to like everyone else – I get that – but would you say something so nasty to a person you’ve never met if you were looking him in the eye?   I doubt it.  So why would you on the web?

Consequently, I pledge to never publically criticize another person without having the guts to put my name on the comment.   I hope you will do the same.

  • Marissa

    Woo. Someone said I was a sleep deprived asshole on one of my Gma videos. Where is my post?! Take names, brutha