Ring of Gyges

Recently, a bloggishly famous New Republic writer, Lee Siegel, was caught praising himself under a pseudonym. His blogging days are over at The New Republic. But his quick and ironic downfall has led one of Slate.com’s bloggers to wonder:

>So, if Siegel is a cretin for concealing his role in the authorship of Web comments, then so are millions of other posters. If Siegel is a cretin for arranging pseudonymous posts that benefit him, then so are hundreds of thousands of other posters. One could argue that if Siegel’s critics can blast him from the dark, he should be allowed to do the same to them.

There are some obvious differences between a professional writer, blogging for a blog, who blogs about the terrificness of his own blog and his own blogging, and the anonymous posting of hundreds of thousands of amateurs with their own rings of Gyges. The former deliberately lies about himself by presenting himself as someone other than himself; the latter attempt to avoid accountability for their own arguments, and so embrace the very essence of internetting. The former tries to create the impression that someone other than himself is out there thinking of him; the latter just send anonymous mail about someone else to someone else. There’s a big difference, and the boys at Slate ought to know that.