Naked or Anonymous: Your Social Network and the Entitlement of the Keyboard Warrior

Do you post openly, or anonymously? You cannot have it both ways. Or, on second thought, maybe you can … but what’s the point?

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I moderate a frequently fun, sometimes hair-pulling, and always engaging personal page on Facebook. I provoke; that is, in effect, my social media brand. If one gets carried away with my provocations, and disrespects either myself or others, I block them.

Simple.

I do not provoke for the sake of it. I do so to encourage conversation and debate. My Facebook friend connections stand at the 5000 limit, along with several thousand additional followers and a book page for added measure.

For me, it works. My brand, that is.

Twitter, on the other hand, is a tough nut. Perhaps because I tend to be long-winded in person, making my point in a limited number of characters is not a favored pastime. Other lesser personal options, for various reasons, include Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.

I enjoy Linkedin, and attained my 30,000 connection limit years ago. My posting philosophy is the same as on Facebook, but I veer the posts to more business-relative interests.

And then, recently, I joined Reddit. Anonymity is encouraged on Reddit, which I did not know until a month later. I used my full name, my image, and my profession.

Though in truth I wouldn’t have it any other way … the fan is still dripping from what hit it.

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Firstly, I’m not prone to giving Reddit any more attention than it deserves. The anonymous keyboard warriors prevalent on that site will remain largely entitled, anonymous keyboard warriors with nothing to risk.

On Day One, I was banned from a gun Reddit after posting an opposing point of view, then called “ignorant,” “fucking bitch,” and “arrogant cocksucker,” among many other terms of endearment. This, by the way, was from the page’s moderator.

I argued that teachers should not carry guns in the classroom.

Over the next few days, I was called a “catastrophically bad writer” by someone who spelled two of those three words incorrectly, and was banned from seven additional Reddit pages for sharing occasional articles from Medium and being called either a “spammer,” or “shitposter” (one word).

Other favorites include the following comments from this article on sexual harassment (see below the image):

“God, I never realized having a penis made me so awful.”

“I’m ashamed to associate myself with such low-T pussies. I thought I found commonality with a group of guys through our disdain of the new, hateful feminist movement.”

“I honestly wouldn’t trust one of you “men” to work beside of me… limp-wristed, low-T cucks need to put on dresses and makeup and make a switch to the other side of the aisle anyways. You don’t have men’s issues, you’re a bunch of pussies.”

“Just some feminist turd man doing his turd man thing; attacking all men as assholes.”

“It really makes zero sense now. If a woman told Harvey Weinstein “I won’t sleep with you but how about I pay you cash or hire a hooker for you, and you give me the role?” Is she still supposed to be a victim?”

“Oh fuck off, is this article worth reading at all or is it just male feminist drivel? Yes it is male feminist drivel and for fuck’s sake it’s not even satire.”

Boom! Banned yet again, this time from a Reddit dedicated to men’s issues.

I was just about to enter my second week of Reddit-mania. I was now banned, in total, from nine Reddits and four sub-Reddits.

Someone then wrote, “How do you expect to gain karma with such negative responses to your posts?”

And that right there, my readers, is the gist of Reddit. The goal is all about garnering those elusively-defined karma points — the equivalent of receiving gold stars for a public school homework assignment — which are far more important to most than any sort of meaningful conversation.

To most, it appears, not all. There are certainly pages on Reddit that cultivate valuable and viable dialog, but those pages are not nearly as common despite what the site’s numerous moderators would have you believe.

Reddit contains main Reddit categories, and also sub-Reddits — under a given category, for example, are frequently other related categories with differing amounts of members or traffic (Reddit categories are simply groups one can join) — all with a general culture of non-spamming.

That’s fair, except …

Art pages encourage members to post examples of their art, as do other pages which encourage similar sharing based on the page topic. However, a writing Reddit recently banned me for spam.

A familiar message, yet again. My crime was, to be clear, sharing some of my writing … on a writing page. Stories from Medium, particularly, appear to be widely frowned upon on Reddit.

This, despite the fact that I’ve in large part made my living as a writer of novels, television and film for nearly the last 20 years. I just may have something to say now and then, you know?

Perhaps Medium’s paywall has something to do with the resistance, perhaps not. A month later, I’m still grasping for a legitimate answer.

The most recent moderator explanation of my being blocked includes the following: “This author contains the name Joel Eisenberg, who has been banned for shitposting.”

And yet, despite it all, in 30 days I’ve still amassed over 2000 karma points as many who have actually taken the time to read some of my posts have been very gracious in their approval.

This one has proven particular resonant, and has been read, as of now, over 10,000 times:

Even hardened Redditors who have been predisposed to dislike my posts have grudgingly acknowledged value with this very personal piece.

As most Redditors are anonymous, I recently took to task one individual who was unrelenting in his criticism. I invite criticism, as none of us are perfect and I’m always open to self-improvement, but this one I was compelled to test. He was clearly showing off, and may have been a kid for all I know. I engaged him, which was frankly beneath me, but I did so in the spirit of research.

If that’s wrong, I’ll own it.

Me: “You’re hiding behind a username and an avatar. I’m happy to address your criticisms but you’re wearing a mask.”

Him: “Fuck off, bitch-ass. LOL. You’re a fucking spammer, that’s why they hate you here.”

You get the picture. I went around that flagpole for another minute or so, before focusing on more constructive pursuits.

The next day, though, I directly asked the question on a Reddit page: “I notice here so many of you post anonymously. Why?”

Many who responded were, surprisingly to me, quite polite and sincere. Several expressed an honest fear of expressing their opinions while using their real name, another said posting one’s true identity on Reddit is like inviting thieves to openly access one’s personal information, and still another said:

“Fuck off, muthafucka.”

Eloquence, there. Sometimes, you get what you ask for.

The internet is history. Anything posted for a second and deleted can be retrieved, and used against you later. Is it smart to “provoke” on certain sites other than those that welcome it?

I don’t think so.

Will I still hang on Reddit a bit until I get tired of the barrage?

Of course, and I won’t delete my identity. I have nothing to hide, and if I’m going to post I want my readers to know me.

I’m also going to post this article there.

A jackass move? Well …

Through a friend who read one of my Reddit-posted articles who subsequently forwarded the link to a friend of his, I was offered a spotlight story in a prestigious literary journal. This journal has published the likes of Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, among a plethora of others.

I will now join them, in part because I didn’t hide.

Regardless, the risks and the rewards of posting anonymously, or openly, on any social media platform are yours to ascertain. There is no right or wrong; you are responsible for your outcome.

Determine what works for you, then I suggest you proceed unapologetically.

Disclaimer: I have since met a few of my Reddit readers at a recent personal appearance. They were incredibly kind, and supportive. As somewhat of a social media veteran, it is important to note in my preceding words that I am taking issue with a general lack of civility on the part of some, a tendency that the site appears to largely encourage. In no way am I demeaning anyone who posts there, or anywhere, with respect.

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Written by

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.

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