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"Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for those of you who start to laugh and piss your pants a little. Although this blogger understands the role he has played (in that, if you had not been laughing you may not have pissed yourself), he assumes no liability for damages caused and will not pay your dry cleaning bill.

These views represent the thoughts and opinions of a blogger clearly superior to yourself in every way. If you're in any way offended by any of the content on this blog, it is clearly not the blog for you. Kindly exit the page by clicking on the small 'x' you see at the top right of the screen, and go fuck yourself."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NPR Sundays

I'm taking a break from stripping wallpaper.

I've been doing it from 9:30-2:15, pretty much without a breath. We moved the big-ass radio from the living room to the kitchen so that we could both listen to NPR's Sunday offerings while listening to the radio together. Mrs. Apron was busily crafting away in preparation for a craft fair, and I was-- well, stripping.

I may sound like a tote-bag-slinging, mug-loving snob for saying this, but I love NPR Sundays. Today was a great day-- we started listening earlier than we normally do and caught most of a show called "On the Media" which had a lot of content about the pros and cons of being anonymous on the intrawebz, a subject which is both near and dear to my little apron-covered heart. The show discussed websites that have nameless and faceless bloggers and writers reviewing restaurants and physicians, and the various complications that ensue from such brave souls who write without fear of any real repercussions. One former neurosurgeon now heads a group called "Medical Justice" or some such shit and he was discussing how inappropriate it is for laymen and women to rate doctors on standards-of-care because, really, us nincompoops and doingobats aren't qualified so to do. We are, though, qualified to say whether or not doctors are "jerks." At least, according to this prick.

There was an unrelated psychologist from Britain (St. Bart's) who stated that those who write on the internet under the guise of anonymity run the risk of unleashing a torrent of rage that would normally have been restrained under the auspices of social constraints and the norms of civility. And, while I must say that I believe he has a legitimate point, if I ever see this guy I'm going to freak the fuck out on him, his family and his dead ancestors and rain down on them like the unending fires of hell.

People like to get down on bloggers and other internet writers who write under a pseudonym and, even as a pseudonymninious blogger, I understand that. It's the old, "Show yourself! Meet me by the flagpole after school! Meet me in the parking lot bar! Stop hiding behind your mommy, or your daddy, or your big brudder, or your white hood, or your religion, or your gay-ass online handle."

"Mr. Apron."

I mean, seriously. What a fag.

And, to a certain extent, I agree with people who advocate for more online transparency. On the other hand, I'd like to introduce myself to these people and say,

"Hi. If you can guarantee that I can continue blogging with my full 1st ammendment freedoms intact and still keep my job and my community standing, then I'll toss this pseudonym in the trashcan where it probably belongs."

Trouble is, nobody can give me that guarantee. Ironically, the internet, which was created as a mode for increased self-expression, comment, commentary and exchange of ideals has created a vacuum in which freedoms and rights get routinely suffocated, and decent people are hung out to dry. Sometimes it's because of a story that you wrote eight years ago that had the word "fuck" in it. Maybe it's a Facebook picture of you holding the ubiquitous red, plastic cup at a frat party, your eyes glazed over and your tongue hanging out like the family dog's, your navel-ring visible below your midrift top. Maybe it's a YouTube video of you dancing in your room to the Lord Nelson Mass in your Hello Kitty underwear.

In this era of extreme visibility, you'd better start Googling yourself and seeing what comes up, before your current or prospective employer does. Take the advice from one who has been burned: do it today.

I argue to everyone out there that anonymous internet writers have largely been driven to do so out of a very real and damnable need for self-protection. Anonymity is our only defense against the Googlers of the world who would use our words against us in a heartbeat. Goodbye controversial, humorous musings. Farewell, freedom of expression. See you later, honesty. They call us cowards, but I dare someone to stand up and call Mark Twain a coward. Obviously, though, Samuel Langhorne Clemens felt the need to create another identity so that he could express himself in a freer way. And Mark Twain wasn't his only cover: there was Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, among many other elaborate ones. For a while, in the early days, he was known simply as "Josh." The outside world creates a need for pseudonyms-- writers just create the names.

"This American Life" was next. Two very depressing stories by people who probably should have used pseudonyms, but didn't.

Then there was "Car Talk." Everybody knows Tom & Ray Magliozzi as "Click & Clack," and I think that's how they like it. That way, all the people to whom they erroneously recommend new catalytic converters or fuel pumps can't so easily find them and raise hell. Tom & Ray probably don't need pseudonyms, but they have every right to them.

I only listened to the first ten minutes of "Prairie Home Companion" before shutting it off, turning off the wallpaper steamer and coming upstairs, sufficiently moved to blog. If you listen to the full two hours of "Prairie Home" you won't hear Garrison Keillor mention his own name once. Most radio personalities mention their names constantly, after every single break, worried, apparently, that the listeners won't know who they are if they don't constantly drop their own names. Garrison Keillor doesn't seem to worry about that. I guess he figures that he's been doing this for so long, everybody knows his name anyway and, if they don't, well-- that doesn't much matter anyway. As long as they keep clapping after the "Powdermilk Biscuit" ads and the "Guy Noir" sketches, that's really all Garrison Keillor cares about. He strikes me as someone who's old enough to not have to be very much concerned with his own personal noteriety, or his own name-- if that really is his name.

I like that Garrison Keillor doesn't mention his name all the time, or at all. He doesn't need to. And neither do the rest of us.

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