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From mindfulness and care comes civility , and civility is the foundation of a well functioning society

Mouse Jim

Of course the other side  to the online anonymity issue relates to the use of social media in and about the workplace, and its the possible employment  repercussions from online interactions that advocates for anonymity usually cite as a reason for their position on the matter. However I think that they are quite mistaken on a couple of levels.


click for source

Firstly  when you are on the boss’s dollar you really have no right to carry out personal business or commentary on  life instead of devoting yourself to the tasks for which you are being paid. It has never ceased to amaze me just how many people who comment on blogs (including my own ) or tweet madly away during work hours and this trend has become even more common with the advent of internet capable smart phones which circumvent any restrictions on the use of workplace  computers.

Secondly there is the matter of how what you may post on social media will reflect upon your employer and the incidents described in the image on the right  (from the AGE) are good examples of the possible negative consequences for being an online  fool or smartarse.

Rather than whining about employers taking note of stupid or malicious online behaviour perhaps those who advocate for the impunity of anonymity on the net should instead realise that the other side of the equation is that if people were as well mannered and respectful online as they are obliged to be in “real” life then the chances of them having any negative consequences for an internet presence will be very small indeed.

I have been blogging for exactly seven years this very day* and during that time I have seen a great deal of change in the online environment   the electric country has become populated with far more ordinary folk rather than being mostly populated by the early adopters of the personal computer and as the demographic has changed so to has the expectations of society about this online  part of life. No longer do is  anarchy and a mostly pseudonymous interaction the norm. Most of us have face-book, twitter or some other sort of social media presence and its up to us all to use our online presence with mindfulness and care for the consequences of publication. This is a good thing as I see it because from mindfulness and care comes civility , and civility is the foundation of a well functioning society, which is after all what we want isn’t it?

Cheers Comrades


*Happy Blog day to Moi 🙂  🙂


  1. deknarf says:

    Can’t say that I disagree with your viewpoint Iain. And, as the boss is paying you for your labour then you should be providing it, not doodling around on the social media in your time that his rightfully theirs.

  2. Craig says:

    So is this a call for no anonymity at all, even in spare time for bloggers and commentators, or does it just involve social media like FB and Twits?

    Eh it seems so nanny state to me, either way it will cost a bundle of dosh to enforce, if it’s made a legal requirement, you can bet your bottom dollar that the people will find away around it. I know I could.

  3. Iain Hall says:

    Maybe it would cost a packet Craig and maybe it could be circumvented by some people but I can’t see that any government is going to be indifferent to online ratbaggery forever so I am looking more to the philosophical idea of how to have a more civil internet rather than proposing or developing a way to make it happen.

  4. Brian says:

    I think the best way to encourage civility is to be civil yourself. There will always be rude and malicious people but the best approach is to not give them the time of day.

    This story may interest you: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/explicit-tweeter-quits-classroom-20121215-2bgks.html Interestingly, the woman does not use her real name on Twitter.

  5. Iain Hall says:

    I agree with your suggestion about civility Brian and you are likewise right that the woman in the story you link to is a good example of online stupidity and or naivety there is just not any real separation between online and off-line reality any more.

  6. Brian says:

    No there’s not, and frankly that is a concern as far I’m concerned. Workers do not own employees and shouldn’t really have the capacity to penalise them for what they do or say out of hours, unless it defames or denigrates the employer.

  7. Iain Hall says:

    that is a fine notion in principle but we both know that in the real world everything is far more interconnected than many people think or desire.
    Frankly if a teacher was shaking her tits all over the internet that provides an unacceptable reflection upon both the school she teaches at and the teaching profession as a whole?

  8. Brian says:

    What I’m saying is that people are entitled to have private lives Iain. In this particular case the woman did not mention her name or the name of the school on Twitter. But some malicious internet detective has worked it out and told the press. I’m just bothered that teachers and probably other professions are expected to live online lives of virtual silence for fear of being hounded in the media and losing their jobs.

  9. Iain Hall says:

    Well I think that anything you do online is absolutely the opposite of “private” and it is evermore easy to make those connections between things like erotic pictures and other images of the same person published elsewhere. Things like facial recognition software is going to be ubiquitous soon as will other data matching tools. This need not mean that anyone needs to be silent online, they just have to realise that there is no such thing as a “private online presence”if that presence is open to the public.

  10. Brian says:

    All true but frankly the kind of society where every word and image is watched and cross matched by others, and occasionally used to hold you to account, is a bit too Orwellian for me. The internet is supposed to be a tool, not an archive of everything we do and say.

  11. Iain Hall says:

    In an Orwellian universe then the best defence is to be a good and aware citizen at all times in all venues because no matter what anyone wants the internet to be it will remain what it is and it is that actuality that we will have to live with.

  12. Brian says:

    We’ll have to disagree on that then Iain. I’m a libertarian who doesn’t believe the state or employers have the right to gather information about our personal and private lives, including our political thoughts. Once we grant them that right, it will inevitably be abused.

  13. Iain Hall says:

    Well in one aspect I think that Orwell was quite mistaken, namely he imagined that it would be only the state who would scrutinise the behaviour of its citizens where as in reality it is the citizens themselves who are, in a real sense, scrutinising each other. Further the propensity of people to put potentially harmful stuff on the net about themselves without compunction is the greatest risk to individual privacy rather than any minions of the government spying on us.

  14. Brian says:

    You have a point there. Nobody can suffer any damage from social media or blogging if they don’t use it, or use it with extreme caution.

    Who knows, maybe if Orwell was writing “2014” instead of “1984” he might suggest that Facebook, Twitter and WordPress are all secret government departments designed to expose our thoughts!

  15. Iain Hall says:

    Yes Brian and believe me that is something I have relentlessly drummed into the heads of my children,I don’t allow their school to publish any photos of them and they are forbidden to publish pictures on face-book ect themselves.Its really something that all sensible people just have to do when it comes to social media.

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