Αιώνες πριν από την δημιουργία του internet, των flames και των trolls η ανωνυμία και η ψευδωνυμία απασχολούσε το ίδιο σοβαρά την κοινωνία, όσους ήθελαν να εκφράσουν γνώμη και όσους δέχονταν κριτική. Το κείμενο του Schopenhauer θα μπορούσε να αναφέρεται στο σήμερα, στην γενιά του Facebook, του Twitter και των blogs. Τραγική ειρωνεία η εποχή που έζησε ο Schopenhauer στην γειτονιά της Ευρώπης από το 1788 ως το 1860.
Δυστυχώς φαίνεται πως εκτός από μερικά gadgets και τεχνολογικά επιτεύγματα που βρήκαν τον δρόμο προς την κατανάλωση, οι βασικές δομές της κοινωνίας έχουν παραμένει σχεδόν αναλλοίωτες.
“But, above all, anonymity, that shield of all literary rascality, would have to disappear. It was introduced under the pretext of protecting the honest critic, who warned the public, against the resentment of the author and his friends. But where there is one case of this sort, there will be a hundred where it merely serves to take all responsibility from the man who cannot stand by what he has said, or possibly to conceal the shame of one who has been cowardly and base enough to recommend a book to the public for the purpose of putting money into his own pocket. Often enough it is only a cloak for covering the obscurity, incompetence and insignificance of the critic. It is incredible what impudence these fellows will show, and what literary trickery they will venture to commit, as soon as they know they are safe under the shadow of anonymity.
Let me recommend a general Anti-criticism, a universal medicine or panacea, to put a stop to all anonymous reviewing, whether it praises the bad or blames the good: Rascal! Your name! For a man to wrap himself up and draw his hat over his face, and then fall upon people who are walking about without any disguise–this is not the part of a gentleman, it is the part of a scoundrel and a knave.
An anonymous review has no more authority than an anonymous letter; and one should be received with the same mistrust as the other. Or shall we take the name of the man who consents to preside over what is, in the strict sense of the word, une societe anonyme as a guarantee for the veracity of his colleagues?
Even Rousseau, in the preface to the Nouvelle Heloise, declares “tout honnete homme doit avouer les livres qu’il public”; which in plain language means that every honorable man ought to sign his articles, and that no one is honorable who does not do so. How much truer this is of polemical writing, which is the general character of reviews! Riemer was quite right in the opinion he gives in his Reminiscences of Goethe: An overt enemy, he says, “an enemy who meets you face to face, is an honorable man, who will treat you fairly, and with whom you can come to terms and be reconciled: but an enemy who conceals himself is a base, cowardly scoundrel, who has not courage enough to avow his own judgment; it is not his opinion that he cares about, but only the secret pleasures of wreaking his anger without being found out or punished.” This will also have been Goethe’s opinion, as he was generally the source from which Riemer drew his observations. And, indeed, Rousseau’s maxim applies to every line that is printed. Would a man in a mask ever be allowed to harangue a mob, or speak in any assembly; and that, too, when he was going to attack others and overwhelm them with abuse?
Anonymity is the refuge for all literary and journalistic rascality. It is a practice which must be completely stopped. Every article, even in a newspaper, should be accompanied by the name of its author; and the editor should be made strictly responsible for the accuracy of the signature. The freedom of the press should be thus far restricted; so that when a man publicly proclaims through the far-sounding trumpet of the newspaper, he should be answerable for it, at any rate with his honor, if he has any; and if he has none, let his name neutralize the effect of his words. And since even the most insignificant person is known in his own circle, the result of such a measure would be to put an end to two-thirds of the newspaper lies, and to restrain the audacity of many a poisonous tongue.”