Anonymity clouds common sense

If you’ve ever watched a YouTube video and then made the perilous decision to scroll down, you may have had your faith in humanity shattered by the phenomenon that is anonymous speech on the internet. While sometimes internet discussions can hover in the vicinity of intelligent discourse, YouTube commenters see that beacon of intelligent discourse off in the distance, turn their back to it, and run the other way.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch a random YouTube video, scroll down and observe the insults and death threats issued to anyone who liked or didn’t like the video, as well as the crude sexual references and the chain posts which guarantee that you’ll either meet the love of your life or die in the next three days, depending on your willingness to continue to spam that message.

Apparently, while the cloak of anonymity can occasionally result in great works (Beowulf, Common Sense), often it just eliminates 100 points from the speaker’s IQ. (Google “Penny Arcade green blackboards” for a great depiction of this.)

Nevertheless, for over half a decade the Technique has proudly printed and distributed all over campus that same anonymous internet speech, to a slightly toned-down degree. I am, of course, talking about the beloved Slivers that you’ll find interspersed with the ads in our newspaper. For the few who don’t know, the contents of those Sliver boxes originate from anonymous submissions entered on our web site, www.nique.net.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy reading Slivers as much as anyone else. Slivers are actually a great way to feel the pulse of the Tech student body. Judging by the current batch, the two most important things on people’s minds are the noisy North Avenue Apartments renovations and the Facebook redesign, which is provoking the exact same outcry as the News Feed originally did, and I suspect will eventually be just as accepted. They can often be a good source of humor and wisdom on topics such as football games, the dining halls and physics lectures.

Unfortunately, if you were to browse through the original list of submissions before they make it into the newspaper, you would see that many of them aren’t quite so valuable. Granted, there aren’t so many death threats as on YouTube and, to my knowledge, chain letters have not yet invaded the space, but we have our own categories of intellectual vacuum to deal with.

The most annoying to me is the constant bickering we get about Greek organizations, presumably written by members of other, rival Greek organizations. Every week someone decides to type up some treatise on why some fraternity is full of pitiful losers who throw boring parties, or why some sorority is full of women of less than desirable virtue.

Those aren’t going to be printed, so save yourself the keystrokes. Not only are they immature and cowardly, but they often tread pretty close to the line of libel, for which we as the publisher would be held legally responsible, and we at the Technique are not about to risk a lawsuit to further some petty feud.

Another activity we can reliably count on every week is the flirting with or stalking of random people from classes, dorms, Stingers, etc. While those aren’t necessarily automatically censored, they are really pathetic and I definitely recommend that you stop submitting them and consider actually talking to the object of your interest in real life.

Otherwise, we generally try to print the Slivers in their original and uncensored format, with exceptions only made for proper names (for the aforementioned libel concerns, mostly) as well as unnecessary obscenity.

But if I can persuade you to drop your cloak of anonymity while you air your comments about our campus community, may I suggest two other avenues? One is for you to join the dialogue we’ve been having through our Twitter account with other Tech students. Check us out at www.twitter.com/the_nique. Another is to simply email us. We love to hear from readers and you can type as many characters as you want that way.

One thing is for sure: Slivers are one of the most treasured parts of our publication and probably get read more than most of our articles. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that most of us who work here came to terms with long ago. So keep submitting funny, witty and informative Slivers, but please, cut it out all the Greek-bashing and creepy stalking.