The invisible man

I have a feeling Mr. Anonymous’ box probably once held really cheap beer.
Image found on NextWeb.

I feel so betrayed right now. Mr. Anonymous has been berating other people. Gosh, and here I thought I was special. On the bright side, at least my boss wasn’t called a b****. This time, anyway.

That’s the problem when you have callers who insist on staying anonymous, but who use the same descriptor (“just a dumb old Republican”) every time. People talk and feelings get hurt.

But that’s OK. I can handle it. At least more than some of these anonymous guys apparently can. Seriously, some of their tantrums would make a 2-year-old say, “whoa, chill, dude!”

We still talk about the dark day that Rob brought a plastic bag to the meeting.
Image found on Pando.

Anonymity can be a positive thing, especially when it comes to whistle-blowing or even those who ordinarily would be afraid to speak up (I’d say “go, introverts!” but as a rule we’re pretty reserved … cheers aren’t exactly our style). When the anonymity is only to shield you from the consequences of your actions, on the other hand, eh … not so much. If you toilet-paper or egg a house, should you not expect consequences if you’re caught?

Oh, but I guess it’s OK to harass someone anonymously. Consequences, shmonsequences! Forget those silly laws on harassment!

Michael Kleeman, senior fellow at the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California at San Diego, told Pew Research in a canvassing on trolling and anonymity on the Internet:

Their biggest fans tend to be fellow trolls … sort of explains Trump.
Image found on Overly Positive.

“Historically, communities of practice and conversation had other, often physical, linkages that created norms of behavior. And actors would normally be identified, not anonymous. Increased anonymity coupled with an increase in less-than-informed input, with no responsibility by the actors, has tended and will continue to create less open and honest conversations and more one-sided and negative activities.”

Civility is but one casualty of the drive of some to be anonymous. I mean, why concern yourself with anything other than that fleeting high you get from spouting offensive speech you wouldn’t dare use if you weren’t cloaked in some way (like blocking Caller ID or using a pseudonym online)?

Hey, I’m not a loser! I’m an Olympic god!
Image found on imgflip.

An anonymous respondent (the irony is strong in this one) to the Pew survey said:

“Trolls now know that their methods are effective and carry only minimal chance of social stigma and essentially no other punishment. If Gamergate can harass and dox any woman with an opinion and experience no punishment as a result, how can things get better?”

Gamergate—ostensibly a scandal about the ethics of game journalism—was a prominent example of what can happen when cloaked posters really get going, with anonymous hackers spreading personal information about a female game designer and others, resulting in threats of rape and death.

Some people just need something productive to do with their time. Maybe then they won’t feel so small.
Image found on Call Centre Helper.

I’m not comparing annoying phone calls with threats like those faced by multiple women in Gamergate, but I am saying that we should never discount the value of being willing to stand behind what you’ve said and done. Heck, if you’re willing to do that, you might be surprised how many people give more credence to you.

Not that Mr. Anonymous wants that. I think he’s just bored. Perhaps he needs a new hobby.

One that doesn’t involve phones.


A wee mea culpa here: In last week’s column, I advised watching a bite for 24 hours for signs of pasteurella infection. This was rightly called out by Dr. Stephen Sorsby, who teaches family medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences: “Pasteurella is such a nasty beast, and can get so bad so fast, that when we see anyone with a high-risk cat bite, which includes bites on the hand, we generally get them on antibiotics right away. We don’t wait for signs of infection, because it can get spread so quickly. I’ve seen untreated cat bites have cellulitis spread above the elbow in less than 12 hours. So, yes, immediately clean and irrigate the bite, but if it’s a significant bite, you really should seek medical care right away.”

Who you callin’ cranky?

He is quite right. Yeah, when you have a cranky cat who likes to bite, you can get a little lackadaisical when you’ve been through it multiple times. I was lucky the first time in that I was able to get in to see my doctor right away as soon as I noticed swelling. The second time, I knew what to look for, and called my doctor and was able to get antibiotics quickly. The third time, the furry one was kind enough to bite me the night before an early morning doctor’s appointment.

So listen to Dr. Sorsby if you have a bite that’s more than a glancing blow (especially if teeth actually pierced the skin); err on the side of caution and get thee to a doctor. The photos available online are more than enough reason to want to nip this infection in the bud.

What … you thought I was gonna post some of ’em?


We should never forget those who died for us.
Image found on usmemorialday.org.

Memorial Day will soon be upon us, and with it will be remembrances of those who died in service to our country.

And so, I’m asking for your help. If you’re an Arkansan and would like to pay tribute to a service member who died on duty, or would just like to share some military memories, please send it in by email to voices@arkansasonline.com or through our form. If you get it in by 8 a.m. Friday, I’ll do my best to get it on the page for Monday.

Those who serve, whether in war or peacetime, deserve our respect. With your help, we can give them a little of that on the Voices page.


I can’t in good conscience post Twitter Burns this week in light of the attack in Manchester. My heart is heavy, as I’m sure yours are as well.

My prayers and positive thoughts go out to everyone affected.

People attend a vigil in Albert Square in Manchester after suicide bombing Monday following an Ariana Grande concert in the English city.
Image found on KCRB Radio.