02 September 2007

Anonymity, Hate, and the Human Condition

painting © 2006, Ibn Bint Jbeil & friends (collaborative work)

Recently, I posted a very simple comment on THE ANGRY ARAB NEWS SERVICE, and an equally simple reply to it bothered me quite a bit.
  • Here is the original post that As3ad Abu Khalil (The Angry Arab) posted:
It still bothers me--but is quite indicative of something global--that my posts that have to do with sexism or gender discrimination generate no reactions or comments whatever. I can write "potato" in a post, and there would be some 20 comments.
  • I jokingly made the following comment:
I am hereby commenting because you included the word potato in your post.
  • An anonymous person who called himself "ibn 'aynata " commented directly after my comment:
and that is why every time we are asked if we are from bint jbeil,we are fast in denying that, potato head
  • I replied with the words below;

the commenting section of your blog is a forum for psychopaths to spew their hatred for each other, while they are all anonymous to each other. i cannot believe the extent of the hatred.

it's like experiencing an angry moment inside a psychiatric hospital ward where all the patients have gone ballistic and start to verbally assault each other, coming very close to throwing chairs at each other. the only difference is: everyone has a mask on their face; no one knows who anyone else really is.

i mean, i understand that the entire forum of blogging in general, to a large extent, is a forum for hate, and an opportunity for people to show their hate, but on your blog, your posts are in one world, and the comments section of your readership is in an entirely different world. and it's not just the expected hatred of pro-palestinians vs zionists, or religious vs secularist, or vegetarians vs carnivores; even someone from aynata feels compelled to offer hateful words to someone from bint jbeil, words that perhaps would not have been said in person.

what is with the amount of HATRED? what is fermenting in everyone's hearts??? where does the compelling need of one to tell others about one's hatred come from?? is it the anonymity of the internet?
And I'll add a couple of words and ask this:

Has the advent of the internet, and the virtual anonymity of it, allowed us human beings the previously unavailable opportunity to hide yet openly divulge the inner-most recesses of our deepest psyches? Is this good or not? What about divulging the good aspects of our inner selves while anonymous? (That as well happens on the internet.) Have we seen nothing yet? have the deepest parts of our psyches not yet come out, on a mass scale? After all, the internet is relatively young. What will happen then? will we just plainly run outside and eat other?

I know that saying things like "the advent of the internet" makes me sound old, but I am proud to not belong to the generations that take for granted the internet as well as the preponderance of mass communication, and know nothing else.

I remember a different kind of anonymity, a time when an individual walked the Earth with a truly free spirit, free from electronics, free from micro-connectedness, free from surveillance, free from identity tracking, free from micro-chipped-existence, free from hyper-competitiveness, free from super-speed and cyber-life. One was truly anonymous and free, although we didn't know it then, and that is why we allowed it to be taken away, in exchange for all kinds of new abilities and opportunitites.

That was before all of this existed. Then again, neither had psychopathic homicidal empires and nation-states existed, back in the good ol days when we lived in caves. But at least we didn't eat each other then.


Jim said...

I see what u mean
i am an oldie too

the world was much nicer before the internet and blogs

the PC and internet became possible bcoz of the huge demand for porn on the net

PC sales soared and mass production became possible
and the price of a PC dived to become affordable by all

internet is not all bad though
i found my love on the net

Amor said...

i'm glad to see the comment by jim seying he found his love on the net, because it's also true that the net, full of hatred as it might be, is also full of love, it's more o less like the jungle, like going out to the world outside: you'll find hatred and bad intentions, maybe you'll get hurt, but you will also find lots of tenderness and love and friends and people who don't like to lie and who will try to make you happy, that's what i've found, and i like it


Wassim said...

Ibn Bint Jbeil, why are you cursing the mirror? Lak shubana?I would have thought you of all people would recognise what human nature is like at a base level.

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

amor, welcome to you, viva madrid.
jim, welcom to you, i assume you in england somewhere?

wassim, i recognize it, which is why i am very apprehensive of it. notice how we are all talking about the net as if it is some living organism. wassim, what do YOU see in the mirror??

Anonymous said...

Has anyone had the pleasure of experiencing Van Gogh's "The Potato Eaters". If the painting is observed with a magnifying glass, one can see that the potato pieces being eaten by the peasant family are actually human finger tips.

Wassim said...

To be honest, sometimes the reflection isn't pretty at all.

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

anonymous 4:10, i love that painting.

i taught a lesson once in my art class about it, jointly with an English teahcer's literature class, and we incorporate into the lesson a song by Don McLean about Van Gogh titled "Vincent", on the same album as "Americna Pie."


The painting does NOT show fingertips! i'm sure you're joking.

_z. said...

Ibn Bint Jbeil...

it is funny to read this on your blog. I commented twice on your blog, and you kept on deleting my comments.

I never use disrespectful language, I am never aim to harm or deliver hatred to other people. My comment was short, and "polite"... yet you find it important to delete my opinion. Maybe because it is different than your? But is that a good enough reason?

Suit yourself buddy, but believe me, you are far from being righteous.

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...


i felt a sense of mixed emotion about deleting your comment, after i deleted it. i guess i felt torn between not censoring on the one hand (sticking to the accepted decorum of blogging, whereby an open blog is an open forum that invites comments,) and on the other hand, not adhering to the accepted decorum, but instead feeling protective of that particular post, kind of like someone is protected of their private turf. well, anyway, i do apologize, because come to think of it, that post was NOT disrespectful, it was just a differing opinion.

and as far as this post here, i do not know why you think that i am expressing any kind of self-righteousness; i do not mean to. i am just expressing my feelings about engaging others in cyberspace, including all the emotional complexity and intellectual contradiction that it entails.

Anonymous said...

I am sure I am not joking. Canabalism was utilized extensively in southern France by hungry peasants. The delusional of Mr. Gogh are simply astounding, however.

Saladin said...

I met my wife on the internet, so I can't hate it all that much. And IBJ, I ahven't talked to your ass in years, so I'm thankful that the 'net has made it easy to do so.

That said, it's is a weird and mostly evil world we live in. What I wonder, though, is whether this is really any different than it's ever been. Like IBJ, I am a romantic about bygone eras -- especially preindustrial ones. But as a student of history I know that people are brutal animals who have pretty much always been cruel to one another. I think more cannibalism went on in caves than either of us would like to admit. When Fred ran out of brontosaurus burgers, he was gonna eat Barney's ass before he was gonna starve...

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

then again, so would we if we were about to starve.. who knows!

welcome finally to my blog, old friend.

سامية said...

Or look at it this way: cowards find it easier to curse and say hateful remarks when they don't have a name on them. You'll find that most hostile bloggers go by a "nickname" and say very little about their true identities in their profiles and posts...

And funny enough, we arabs are better at cursing eachother than we are at cursing our enemies. Ironic, isn't it? :)

Ramadan Kareem :)

Moataz said...

Nice Site !

Fine Arts Gallery