If you wouldn’t say it to my face, don’t say it online
One thing that frosts my pumpkin is these online verbal bomb throwers, who use the comment boxes underneath my columns to hide behind their anonymity to call me a jerk.
Rule of thumb: It’s a lot safer to insult somebody’s mother if you’re identifying yourself as Song of the South, The Right Hand of God, Mister Thinks He Knows Everything, or some other name you can’t track down in the property-tax records for an address.
So I was pleasantly surprised and slightly stunned the other day to get a friendly email from “drputt,” his commenter tag, who actually had the guts to use his real name in his e-mail.
This is the first time any commenter who uses an alias to point out my communist leanings has outed himself.
Still, drputt doesn’t want me to use his real name here. “Only to the extent that I work in customer service for an insurance company, so I have a lot of contacts that know my name, and I would not want them to associate my comments to my company,”
So why not just use a real name, and say your comments have nothing to do with the company? Oh, well. Maybe I’m being picky.
I sense a dichotomy here. Drputt’s e-mail with his actual birth certificate name on it was a ton more civil than his online comments. “How ya doing???” was the heading. I didn’t know he cared. Drputt and I share one thing in common: We both underwent radiation at about the same time, so he was asking about that.
But, in contrast, here are some of drputt’s online observations: “Your headline says it all, John Kelso, Commentary. There is no humor in what you write, just spite.”
Or, “JK, long ago on a planet far, far way, you used to write humor. Now, you have become a political puppet for your bosses. Freedom of press doesn’t exist in your company.” Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde. Let’s set something straight: No one at my company tells me what slant to take on a column. Although the occasional tasteless joke gets the ax.
So anyway, over lunch at Tres Amigos, I asked drputt if he thought the remarks posted under the articles might be a little more acceptable at afternoon tea if the people sending them in had to identify themselves.
Would he, for example, refer to my columns as the “dictation of the AAS fishwrap bosses,” and suggest that I should have a golf course outhouse named after me, if he had to use his real name?
He agreed that, yes, that would change the tone.
“When people go to a costume party, and they’re hidden behind a mask, they do and say things they wouldn’t say without that mask,” he said. “But if you look real hard, you might find the real person in there.”
You could say the same thing about a man in a ski mask holding up a liquor store.
But wouldn’t your observations be different, drputt, if you used your real name? “I would not be able to be as honest; I’d have to think it out,” he said.
Drputt seems like a great guy. He has five grown kids, and he’s grateful they’re all employed. He lives in Round Rock. He used to play a lot of golf (drputt, get it?). He once met Richard Nixon at a Lions Club meeting.
“You knew there was something different about him,” he said. Boy, I mean.
So anyway, drputt and I are now friends, I hope. “You have to remember this doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with everything you say now,” drputt said.
Yeah, but what about the other guy?