Remember CB radio? That became the method of choice for personal communication a couple of decades ago. If you wanted to talk to your buddy, whereever he might be, you just pick up your microphone and call for him.
It was an interesting thing, people wanted to talk to the world, but they did not necessarily want the world to know who was talking. So everybody had a “handle,” an on-the-air name and identity they used to hide their true selves behind. Revealing your “handle” to someone was an act of trust and friendship.
Well, that desire to express your opinion is still with us. And the desire to avoid criticism by hiding behind a “cyber name” is as strong as ever. But now we use the Internet as the way to spread our messages. There are two common ways of doing this. Most news and opinion web sites have a “comments” feature where readers can respond to news and opinion immediately after the article. Even The Madison County Journal’s electronic edition has this feature. It can be entertaining and informative to read some of the comments that follow my articles.
The other way this underground communication system works is based on one word at the top of your e-mail account. With one click on the word “forward” you can send any e-mail message you receive on to friends and acquaintances. If you have a list of e-mail contacts, you just click “forward all” and every one on your list will receive the communication.
Now, all of my regular readers know that I often speak my mind on various topics. Some of my readers will copy a column they found to be of interest on to their e-mail and send it out to friends they feel will also find it of interest. If they do, they are likely to “forward” it to their mail list, and those may send it along. Occasionally, I will hit a nerve with one group or another and the column gets wide distribution in this manner. As a result, I sometimes get responses from strange places. Even a few Yankees have responded to my efforts.
I also often receive such e-mail telling me of nefarious plans by this government agency, or that politician. Some of them are actually true. Many are rumors that someone started. I am sure that those of you with e-mail accounts get a lot of those as well.
I have a policy of not “forwarding” these e-mails. I read them, then I do my best to check their sources, if they list any, and if there is something there that I think deserves comment, then I will make it a part of a column or include it in a “comments” page that I am establishing on my web domain.
With the effort by big government to control everything in our lives, including the press, (the current attacks on the Fox News Cable is an example,) it is important that we have an underground communications system such as these. Just keep in mind that you should not believe everything you read, not even my writings, without checking the information for yourself.
If you find something I have written to be of value and want to send it along to your friends, please feel free to do so. I enjoy the responses.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.
Care should be taken when using email, or even posting to comments sections of web pages, even if you use a "handle". Computer systems that make up the internet keep track of each and every packet of information being sent, and "the government" CAN access that information and track those messages right back to the individual computer that you use. Each computer has a unique identifier (known as a MAC address) and that information "tags" along with the emails that you send and the messages that you post. There is even a record of every web page that you visit. So unless you are a decent "computer hacker", don't count on anything you put on the internet to truly be anonymous, or you may find yourself in for a rather rude awakening. (Don't take my word for it, go to wikipedia.org and search for "carnivore (software)" and read what it says.)