RE: Power of the Net to Polarize
(Straits Times Singapore - Feb 4, 2010)
The problem of "phantom haters" is uncommon in countries where Social Media is more matured and seemed to be an epidemic here in Singapore. The reason you give sounds credible and it may be a root cause of the problem, as the people do not have a voice otherwise.
I feel however, as an academic in Communications that many times, anonymous posts (a setting on your blog can be edited) are usually treated as spam, and spamming is very common on popular blogs. (And people simply block user)
No one should take spams and anonymous users seriously, and no one does. It is unwise to lose sleep as well. I believe as more people understand how the Internet can be used for Personal Branding, and in order to build influence, one must contribute value, and build name and reputation to be a credible source. Anyone can write "Obama is Gay" on their blog, but do people take these anonymous bloggers seriously? Is Obama's reputation affected by this anonymous blogger? Does it affect his life and your opinion on Obama after you come across this blog?
The answer is generally no, web users are more sophisticated now, and most of the time, to win an argument and influence crowds, you need to be transparent and show data to support your argument. Respond to people who have different opinions with respect and challenge them to give facts. Name calling and other "pranks" does not really hurt your reputation and these anonymous Netizens should grow up and brand themselves as thinkers and influences, otherwise they are simply an annoyance.