Who Am I?

January 21, 2007

As I had mentioned in my previous entry, I’ve chosen to remain anonymous. I choose to do so for a number of reasons, any of which by itself would be sufficient reason to disjoin this blog from the me in real life.

Whenever explaining why I make such great pains to remain anonymous, I always start chronologically. The internet–in particular usenet and parts of the world wide web–in its heyday, was indeed a medium for anonymous communication. In those days of 14.4k dialup, our identities online were generally considered separate from our identities in real life. Of course, if we chose to, we could merge these two separate entities into one identity, perhaps to grain credibility, or to prevent forgery and the precursor to what we now call identity theft. Anonymity was a given. It was expected. If we wanted to go online, we had to dial into a server. And every time we dialed in, the server would then assign our machines with an IP address randomly selected from a range that our ISP owned. Obviously, there was no absolute guarantee of being anonymous. With the proper warrant, it would have been possible to obtain the account number that corresponded to a particular IP address at a particular time, assuming that such logs were kept. What made anonymity even easier during the dot.com bubble was the presence of free internet services, like NetZero or Juno, whose reliance on PPP meant that it was possible to create an account and use it without having to go through their software, thus resulting in the only form of record connecting you to the server being your phone record. The truly paranoid changed their MAC addresses and dialed from a pay phone.

Things are a little different today. With broadband, not only are our IP addresses less likely to change, but there are logs of everything. Logging exists not only at the ISP level on the server, but also in our own computers in the form of our history, and on third party computers, in the form of cookies and spyware. Not only that, but due to the internet’s popularity, we also are constantly asked to give away our information. We do so willingly for many reasons, sometimes in the form of an online financial transaction, sometimes in order to grain credibility. If we refuse to match our online persona to our real life person, we are shunned, ignored, as if the content of our words would be suddenly reverse tautologies without a name attached to it. Anonymity is extremely difficult to come by these days, thus I jump at the chance to encourage it whenever possible.

The second reason has more to do with the current state of our society than it has to do with me. It has to do with the First Amendment rights–in particular the freedom of speech and expression. For those hiding under a rock, our First Amendment rights have been slowly whittled away over the past 6 years. In some instances, it is deliberate. Other times, it is an unintentional consequence of the explosion in popularity of certain technologies, and the relative youth of the technological culture. Anonymity allows me to say what I want to say, without reservation, without the need to consider the consequences. I do not need to worry about the FBI (or a mob of protesters) knocking on my door because I spoke in defense of the rights of a pedophile or a sex offender. I do not need to worry about my current or future employers and customers seeing what I’m writing. Should I choose to run for public office or otherwise become a public figure at some point, my words will not be taken out of context as a means of discrediting me. To be anonymous means to no longer need to constantly check behind my shoulders for the presence of political correctness. Obviously, this is a particular perk of anonymity that I make great pains to avoid abusing. Being anonymous allows me to say things I might otherwise reserve, and it certainly allows me to openly express what would normally be privvy only to a select audience. However, not unlike shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater, it would be wrong of me to divulge words spoken to me in secrecy, simply because I can without fear of retribution. It isn’t about crossing lines; it is about respecting and honoring the powers granted unto me by anonymity.

And that brings me to my last reason, which also explains why I’ve chosen to hide real names behind nicknames and real dates and times behind fake ones. Those who know me and are characters in the tales I dramatize will know exactly who I am, and exactly to whom I am referring. I mean for them to know. It is my intention for them to know my thoughts on the matter. And at the same time, I also mean for those who are not involved and don’t already know to remain not knowing. The substance is in the fact that an event of a certain nature occurred, and in the response from me said event elicited. Everything else, including who’s involved in those events are superfluous. Indeed, the only reason why those who were neither involved nor directly affected by the event would want to know the real names would be to have yet another gossip topic. And I refuse to fuel that.

As such, I not only have chosen to write anonymously, this online identity will also remain separate from my identity in real life. Thus, those who ask me will receive a response appropriate to the situation indicating that I am not involved in this in any way, shape, or form. Those who are meant to know the face behind these words will know. Those who do not know are not meant to know.

On a completely different note, it always annoys me when I am doing a training drill, and my partner is more interested in testing himself against me than he is in actually training. In particular, Tramp has a tendency to do this whenever he pairs up with me. He has been getting very bold lately though, nearly to the point of openly challenging me. Unfortunately for him, the maximum power he can put forth using his whole body is about equal to the maximum power one of my arms can put forth. I not only have an experience advantage, a height advantage, a speed advantage, and a power advantage, I also have an age advantage. It is a difference between Heaven and Earth. The only reason why I hesitate to completely put him in his place is because of Sigung, and because he’s far over the hill. Even though he’s been training since the mid-seventies, any passerby who touches hands with him would think he’d just started. He is more an object worthy of my pity than worthy of being considered an adversary. Actually attacking him would be like picking on a child, albeit one that should not be underestimated. Tramp is potentially deadly, as he has moves and a small amount of power, and extremely cunning to boot. If it ever came down to an exchange, I wouldn’t want to hurt him, but I know if I let my guard down, he won’t hold back. It would be a delicate situation, especially if Sigung was watching.

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