I’m trying to puzzle out the logic of this Scott Adams blog post justifying the use of a sock puppet on Metafilter, and I have to tell you it’s not making a whole lot of sense. Basically he’s got an elaborate explanation for why he wanders about online anonymously, related to his fame and how it gets in the way of what he’s actually saying, and, you know, fine, whatever. But the thing he appears to be skipping over is that what he’s been using his anonymity for is to tell people about Scott Adams.
That being case: Dude. There’s a manifest difference between going out anonymously online to talk about other things, and going out anonymously online to be your own PR flack. No amount of elaborate self-justification changes the fact you’ve been engaging sockpuppetry, and sockpuppetry is both obnoxious and sad. Own up to it, take your lumps and move on, and additionally accept that being famous and opinionated means that someone somewhere is going to think you’re an ass. That really is the deal. The logical gymnastics to explain away the sockpuppetry and declare victory over the Internets(!) just makes you look like you’re twelve, and the sort of twelve that always has to win. Which is a tiresome sort of twelve.
Some time ago, I essayed what one should do when one is tempted to use a sock puppet. Here is that bit again, because it’s as relevant today as when I wrote it four and a half years ago, with a few edits to make it pertain to the situation at hand:
“But wait!” I hear you say. “What if I sign go online and post my retorts under an entirely different name? Then I have the satisfaction of responding, but no one will know it’s me!” Yes, well. The term for using a fake name to respond to comments is “using a sock puppet,” and if you’re going to engage in sockpuppetry, this is how you should go about it:
1. Put a sock over each hand. You may decorate the socks to taste. You’ve made sock puppets!
2. Dip each sock, hands still inside, into the largest vat of honey you can find.
3. Feed sock-wrapped hands to the brown bear you have procured for just such an eventuality.
Once again, after the bear has finished its delicious little snacky-snack, you’ll most likely neither have the means nor the desire to respond to those mean and nasty people online. And what a relief that will be! Now you can turn to more important things, like plotting your next work, training your voice-operated word processor, and developing a Zen-like detatchment regarding what people say about you online. You’ll feel better. And they’re doing amazing things with prosthetics these days.
Yup. As noted: true then, true now.