The anonymity of technology

Raymond's GutWe can’t live without technology.  That’s no secret.

What is interesting is how technology has become something to hide behind.

People have online identities that are virtually untraceable.  It is not very hard to have an anonymous email account.  There are people who don’t even have the courage to have that anonymous account.

People also say things online that they would never say in person.  It is easy to write a note if you know no one can touch you. It is a whole different story if you are in an office and have to make the comment in person.

If talk is cheap, email is cheaper, and anonymous comments are the cheapest commodity in the land.

I have a number of blogs, one very popular one called Applepeels.  I have to moderate the comments there, because it often touches a raw nerve with some Apple people. Once in a while they write things in response to my posts that aren’t in the spirit of reasonable discourse to put it mildly.

As employees of a Fortune 500 company, you would expect that the Apple folks could provide some real arguments if I am off base.  Those real debates never happen with Apple people.

Unfortunately Apple is the North Korea of technology companies.  The one thing these people fear more than anything is losing their jobs if they speak in public forums.

They afraid to use their real identities.  I even had one Apple person make a comment, and send me a note asking for it to be removed because he thought he might have given away his identity.

Of course I removed it.  More troubling are the Apple people who have a hard time handling the truth.  Today I got a comment from one of them.  He has sent comments before and usually has the same thing to say.

All he can do is launch into personal attacks. It is course the sign of a very tiny mind.

His anonymous rants also highlight his cowardice since he never uses his real name or email.  I guess he doesn’t have the intelligence to set up an anonymous email account.

He hides behind the anonymity I allow.   Still technology keeps me one up and allows me to monitor the comments and not publish the ones that I don’t like.  I don’t force authentication because a few Apple folks will make intelligent comments, and I don’t want them to get fired.

In another time, I might have been writing opinion pieces and my cowardly antagonist would have sending anonymous poison pen letters.

While technology makes it easier to hide, it also makes it as simple as the click of the mouse to remove comments from the small minded folks who cannot stand the light of day.

Technology has just given us different tools with which to work.   On the one hand it is easier to control the idiots and on the other hand they can still be pests.

The new tools will probably always keep those of us who use them ahead of those who try to abuse them.

A box that we don’t understand

Gabrielle SunsetI once wrote a post, Our technological infirmity. It has the same title as I have chosen for this blog.

The post worries about all the great technology that we have which often no longer works without increasingly scarce expert help.

We might have more expert help to solve our problems, but we have decided we want that help for free or built into the cost of the products.

The products of course have become so inexpensive that the companies cannot afford to support them. Many companies assume there are so many customers they can afford to lose a few disgruntled ones.

Here in this blog, I am worried about something far worse. It hit me yesterday as I was waiting out Gabrielle on North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks. Our information has become even cheaper and possibly less reliable than our Chinese built products.

We have many people who have become so dependent on the views and experiences of others that they cannot tell the truth from hype or fiction. They have lost those skills. Technology might have contributed to their demise. On top of that we have no accountability for those publish shoddy information or lead people down the garden path with their rosy scenarios.

As the Weather Channel was trying to wish Gabrielle into a hurricane I had to smile at the Mayor of North Topsail beach as he ended his TV career by saying that the high water the reporter was trying to hype was no worse than what the area sees after a good thunderstorm. Yet people depend on this garbage.

It is not just television that fails to deliver accurate pictures of what is happening. Much of the print media cannot get it straight either. Add in reliance on a few experts who have little inclination to share their professional evaluations, and we have a soup of misinformation.

Then there is the whole world of advertising. No one seems to care when products don’t match the hyped advertising.

Our local paper had the Monday headline “Carteret get light rains, wind from storm.” Gabrielle had passed through on Sunday afternoon. It was gone by 7 pm. Perhaps some would excuse the paper because they had to publish early, but it appears to me they published a story that was written before the story was over.

At four pm yesterday, which we can at least hope was after this story was written, the skies opened and Carteret County got much more rain than even our weather experts were calling for in their late Sunday forecasts which went something like this.

…the rainfall total wasn’t expected to exceed one inch in Carteret County.

As I was reading that online, water was flooding down my driveway. We ended up with an additional one and one half inches of rain to bring our total to two inches which pales in comparison to Morehead City which got over three inches and Beaufort which got almost 8 inches.

We have become so accustomed to being entertained or even excited by our news that we have created a vicious circle of having to get news that meets that criteria of entertainment even if it is off the mark on credibility.

We have become consumers of headlines without really pondering the details below the headline.

Our local paper also had a headline today, “Whale shot with machine gun, harpoon off the coast of Washington state, survives.”

Unfortunately the first line of the story under the headline was the following.

A California gray whale that was harpooned and shot with a machine gun off the western tip of Washington state has died, officials said.

I guess the revised headline made for a better story than the real story. That’s not too different from the Weather Channel trying to make North Topsail Beach’s ongoing erosion problem a result of Gabrielle which wasn’t even as strong as the nor’easter we had last spring.

I don’t know where to put the weathermen who send us forecasts which are debunked by looking into our driveway. Weather is hard to forecast, but surely someone can tell when eight inches of rain is on the way. It would be nice if our news was as easy to verify as our local weather reports.

The only technology required for that verification is standing on your porch and looking. A computer doesn’t have to be involved at all. I can trust my eyes and my senses. I am glad they still work.