The following was posted on Roger Eberts Blog. It was part of a post titled “On the uselessness of the internet.” It is a statement from British writer and critic Tom O’Bedlam, who recently abandoned his online post as a result of anonymous criticism.  O’Bedlam has returned to the web, but clearly the impact of this experience has not subsided.

This Internet age has given rise to the critical sniper, and snipers have always been the most despised of soldiers. The Internet critic is foulmouthed and illiterate — he hides behind a cloak of anonymity, he offers no products of his own making. The insults he issues have a playground quality. He says to others what was once said to him, believing that they will feel the same hurt as he did, and still does. And somehow this will compensate him. The abused has been sold on the benefit of becoming the abuser. – Tom O’Bedlam

As we have viewed online communication through the lens of positive anonymity, it is imperative to remind ourselves that if the conversation is to move forward, if we are to embrace the openness of the web and all that is has to offer, we must still confront the dark shadows of the web where “snipers” and trolls lurk and conspire to subvert open dialogues that offer the power of positive cultural change.

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