A Case For Anonymity

I’m not anonymous.

GCHQ.

Friends.

Randoms I’ve met via the internet.

They know what I look like, know my given name.

Anyone who pays attention to what I tweet and write (not that this will add anything to your life so it isn’t worth the effort) could probably work out my approximate age.

My rough location in the world and my field(s) of employment over the years I’ve documented myself, I’m not exactly 100% private and anonymous but the fact that hopefully the great majority on twitter and reading this don’t know what I look like or my real name is enough to assuage any massive worries I have about my own general anonymity online.

I’m anonymous because I choose to be.  I’m not a troll, not in the worst sense anyway, then again term troll itself has been ascribed and redefined many times to now be a catch-all term for a great spectrum of behaviour.

My thoughts and views do not require knowledge of who I am; too often I’ve seen named twitter accounts avoid questions using the “you hide behind an avatar” line just because someone, even in the course of polite conversation, might field a view different to the person they were talking to.  This is a nonsensical and cowardly approach, it stifles debate and gives inaccurate credence to a view that only those with identities can have opinions and those opinions are worth more than the anonymous.

As I’ve gone on in my career, social media policies at various jobs have evolved and especially focussed on not saying or doing anything that would bring a company into disrepute.  An interpretation of these guidelines would be that anyone in employment shouldn’t really post anything personal (views or otherwise) online as you could lose your job.

I know that some of the views I hold don’t chime with even those close to me in real life let alone the status quo of twitter and seeing the reactions of some people online to certain views only highlights that, if only for the sake of continued employment/employability my veiled identity protects me from the vindictive and self-righteous, those that don’t know what a joke is, or satire or who feel they’ve been personally besmirched.

The way the world is going, everyone is just that little bit more crazy and unpredictable, I have the courage of my own convictions and being anonymous means that, should I wish to meet someone I’ve talked to online (and in the drinking world this happens at extremely regular intervals) it is always me that has to identify myself after I’ve worked myself up to a level of trust.

Give and take, I don’t trust anyone I don’t know, their aims and motives and likewise you shouldn’t trust me but not knowing each other or anything about anyone is no reason not to talk and debate about things, whether in agreement or disagreement, whether known or anonymous.

 

“There is no truth, only human opinion.”

 

Thanks for reading.

Identity, Offence and a Hitler Clock…

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This is my Hitler clock…

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Much like Nazism, it doesn’t work but is certainly striking to look at.  It was made by a French man so I think we can forget about puns about German efficiency…that comes later in this piece.

Of course if you are offended by this because you think it glorifies our little toothbrush-moustached Austrian (by birth) dictator then that is your business, I’m of the opinion it mocks him.

Then again some people are offended by the Swastika without appreciating it’s history and significance to others completely devoid of any relation to the Nazis.

 

I never knew either of my granddads but was always fascinated by the story of one of them and its relation to personal identity.

Walter was from Bohemia and he was fluent in 4 languages; German, English, French and Czech.

Bohemia (where the Rhapsody is from) is currently in the Czech Republic (formed 1993, or as Sporcle now insists its referred to as, Czechia), though during my grandfather’s birth it was part of Germany (making him German by birth) but then, from 1918, part of Czechoslovakia following the carving up of Europe after the First World War.  It was then part of the Sudetenland that was annexed back to Germany in 1938.

 

Then the Second World War happened.

 

Apart from being in the midst of the Nazi Empire my grandfather and his family also had the rotten luck of being Jewish.

 

Papers, please.

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Being of some standing and right before they were stripped of all their possessions, they were at least given the chance to get away with their lives, provided they could prove that someone (I assume in a then neutral country) was willing to support them and prove that they could, hence the document below.

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How and when my granddad left Bohemia I don’t know, I’ve heard via Italy but it isn’t really important other than the fact that rather than getting to America he wound up in England and joined the British Army.

Fun Fact: he helped teach media-baron in-waiting Robert Maxwell how to speak English (apparently Maxwell had a very good ear).

 

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches 1″.

– Mike Godwin, 1990 (Godwin’s Law).

The above “law” doesn’t just apply on-line, it is a go-to comparison of the mentally lazy who not only report & comment on the news but also those that lead countries.

We are currently living in a world where people are obsessed with defining themselves; be it gender, race, religion, sexuality, political leanings, class, nationality, diet, weight, height, general appearance, the list is as endless as the list of people ready to get offended at the slightest utterance of anything that seemingly disparages any of these things.

It is a world obsessed with itself, a world of narcissism. People so desperate to identify as something end up creating divisions in their own minds, thinking themselves open-minded, they really are as narrow-minded as those they think they are the antithesis of.

 

 

What you drink probably makes you Hitler too.

 

Hitler is/was, sadly, neither the be all or the end all of all that is or has been evil in the world.  These modern despots and murderous terrorists are so much of a world away from the person with an opinion or a comment you disagree with and the choice language that may come with it, that it is a sign of how laughable things have become that this distinction even needs to be made.

 

My grandfather was lucky in a way, reaching the UK and being able to start a family and have a relatively normal life up until his death.

Emma and Amalie lives however ended in Auschwitz, their names now in the list the adorns the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague.

 

For the record, my other grandfather was, at the very least, a descendant of an Orangeman, but that is probably another story.

 

Thanks for reading.