I have had occasion before to remark that I am singularly unimpressed by anonymous messages. I am not apparently the only one. Over on the HE-UK list, somebody is puzzled that her parliamentary candidate won't enter into correspondence until he is sure of whom he is talking to. What I find intriguing about this is the hurt tone of the woman, as though anonymity were somehow a human right!
Until the advent of the Internet, anonymous letters would by most people be consigned straight to the wastepaper basket. Even newspapers would not deal with somebody who was not prepared to put his name at the bottom of the letter. How times change. It is incredibly common now for people expressing their views on the Internet to conceal their identity. Often, this is because the person is a spiteful and malevolent individual who would not dare to say these things unless it were possible to keep his identity secret. As I say, until quite recently, such people were viewed with contempt and their communications simply ignored. These days those, it has become almost respectable to send poison pen messages in this way.
I am bound to say that if I were standing for parliament, I too would be reluctant to answer any questions put to me by somebody who lacked the courtesy even to give her name. The whole business is really a little puzzling. I have strong views about many subjects which I am quite happy to reveal to others. It goes without saying that I put my name to these views and allow people a chance to rebut them if they are able. Why on earth would I send these views to people anonymously? What sort of sneaky little reptile would this make me, if I were to adopt this as a regular practice?
Of course, home educators are not alone in this desire to keep their names secret. Many blogs are anonymous and so too are the majority of comments made. Perhaps it is because many people seem to think that the normal rules of human behaviour do not apply in cyberspace. It is as though they feel that they can be anybody they wish on the Internet and that giving their names would somehow break the spell. I am sure that many of those who post anonymous messages online would not dream of sending abusive, anonymous letters through the post!
Meanwhile, the poor woman who wishes to discuss home education with her candidate has reached an impasse. I do find this a little odd. Presumably she does not intend to abuse or insult the man. After all, she could do that quite easily by email without revealing anything. She has sent him a message addressed by name and all he wants is for her to sign the thing. Interesting to speculate upon her motives for refusing to do so.