the recent furore over the PSC scholar who (rather unwisely) posted racist remarks (among other rather asinine comments) on his blog, and the consequences of his actions, underscores a rather fundamental point about blogging.
i'm not sure why some people seem to consider blogging -and by extension, internet presence- as some kind of alternate reality that is separate and distinct from the real world. after all, you would imagine that in a world of Google, Yahoo, and various other search engines, not to mention the increasingly interconnected (and organically growing) world of blogging in general, people would realise that nothing is really private. once you choose to put something out there, online, in black and white, it's fair game for comments, argument, debate, criticism, rebuttal, and any other form of response you can imagine. you might not imagine that simply posting random remarks about your day might be of interest to someone, somewhere, but if that's the case, why publish it online then?
part of the reason blogs have proved to be such a phenomenon over the last year or two is precisely their power to put people's words and opinions out in the public sphere, where other people can read them and respond to them. blogs are not just about putting the minutiae of daily life out there for a close circle of friends to read. blogging has created a new arena for public discussion and expression that previously didn't exist, by making it easy for people to publish their work without needing either access to physical media or arcane knowledge of computer programming languages and/or internet publishing tools. blogs have become one more way in which people access news, filter information, and read and write commentary on current affairs, and their audiences grow day on day. in a society that values checks and balances on power, blogging has provided yet another way to get the word out, and to test the information that is transmitted through the 'regular' channels. blogs have become a new means for investigative journalism that isn't, theorically, checked by editors and newspaper corportations' wider interests. instead, they are checked and balanced, neatly enough, by one another. (oh, free markets at work!)
so what i'm saying is, if you are going to say something online, you had better be prepared to stand behind what you say. don't say things on your blog that you're not willing to voice in reality, just because you think the theoretical anonymity of the internet can shield you. because if what you say matters to someone -if it inspires them, or if it offends them, or if it in any way strikes a chord in them- they are going to want to respond to you, to know who you are, and why you say what you say. it's human nature. we like to know who our friends or our enemies and opponents are. being online is not a get out of jail free card.