Friday, November 04, 2005

The JBlogger Stereotype & Anonymity

We're so used to judging ideas based on the people expounding them that not knowing the people drives us insane. Just look at some of the arguments, both in real life and in the JBlogs, that a position can't be right because a kofer held the same way. We can't learn Ibn Ezra because of Spinoza. Ridiculous, those ad hominem attacks don't go to the argument, they go to the person. "All UO/MO/CO are X" is likewise an attack on the person, not on the idea.

With the exception of Gil at Hirhurim, Avraham Bronstein, and Menachem Butler, most JBlogs are anonymous. Even Gil began his blog anonymous, only revealing his identity later on. Naturally, when people want to remain anonymous, others seek to unveil them (lately with AddeRabbi and Godol). Human curiosity can be a great (or terrible) thing. And that's what makes us special.

We should recognize that by exposing identities of those who wish to remain anonymous, we may well destroy the very thing which makes us unique. While ad hominem and illogical attacks abound in the blogosphere, just as they do in real life, they are harder to perpetuate. The power of the unadultered idea, the logical argument, can easily vanquish the vapid rant.

Of course, we can prevent the possible damage. We can create a new stereotype, The JBlogger. Of all stripes and colors, hat or no hat, religious and not religious, the JBlogger discusses ideas. Yes, we rant and rave, but that is how we spend our blog leisure time. The ranting is our venting, what we do to relax. Our primary activity is the discussion of ideas, our opinions, and our commentary. The Jewish world needs people like that, who are willing to discuss ideas in an open forum, unafraid of the consequences. Eventually, the blogosphere will spill over into the real world. And then, if our identities are revealed, it won't make a difference.

Some of us may even drop the anonymity, like Gil.