Last night I received a comment on my last post. This person used an alias and no contact info, indicating a wish to hide their identity. However, the content of the comment immediately and unmistakably identified this person as someone who once knew me. She/he laid down some old, familiar tunes that were rather less welcome than sudden and explosive diarrhea. Because I absolutely do not want to have anything to do with this person for the foreseeable future, I deleted that comment and posted one of my own saying that it was removed for reasons of gross incompetency–and that’s true too. People who are uneducated about protecting privacy on the internet certainly get to use it, despite putting themselves and others at risk, but they also get to deal with the consequences of that. This includes having their data mined, having online communications read by undesirables, getting worms and viruses–and having their comments removed.

I might be alone in this, but I treat blogs and personal websites like houses. I would never go into someone’s house and pick an argument with them, especially if I did not have all of the data, and especially if I had previously hurt that person in some way. Yet this commenter did, and that left me with a quandary of how to keep my blog-house a safe space for myself and my loved ones? At first I thought I would make the blog invitation only, and I even changed that setting and sent out some invitations to trusted friends. But over the course of the (remarkably rotten) day, I changed my mind. Like many people my age, I both jealously guard my privacy and wish to be open–in specific, chosen ways. I want it to be up to me, and not others.

So, I have decided to get rid of commenting and make the blog public. Nearly all the comments I ever got were negative/uninformed, so really the problem was commenting, not privacy as such.

I am trying to take this up again more seriously. I think it’s a pretty good practice, and it helps keep me honest. If I’m writing on here, although I never say, you can assume I’m writing for myself as well, and that is of course something I need to do more of.

I hope this new arrangement works out, and I hope that I pretty much never hear from that person again–not from animosity towards them, mind. My life is simply better without them in it.

Because privacy really does mean a lot to me, I won’t out them, either. I will, on the other hand, out Prof. Terry Shank of Marshall University. I have one final class to pass before I can graduate, and it met for the first time today. After the same lecture on “What is science?” that I’ve been listening to since the third grade, it was time for “lab”. “Lab” consisting of Prof. Shank putting on a movie and taking a nap. In his chair, right at the front of the classroom with everyone watching. When the movie was over and he woke up, he saw that one student had left–whether from boredom, an emergency, or sheer disgust with the spectacle, who knows. He then spoke sternly that “that behavior will not be tolerated” and that the student would not receive credit for today’s “lab”. He told us to pass it along to whoever it was that
left.

We all stared at each other in shock, and then left. “Class” was over.

If a professor smacked a student, called them a nasty word, or sexually harassed them, I would know who to report it to and I would feel fairly certain that appropriate action would be taken. In the face of this kind of neglect, however, what does one do? I’ve prepared letters for both the deans of his and my own college. I can’t decide whether to send them now, or to wait for him to fall asleep again and attach pictures. I’ll sleep on it.

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