But in all the time I’ve been a newspaper columnist there have never been more correspondents who choose to do so anonymously.
Part of it’s the available technology, of course. The immediacy of the internet. Email and social media allow for plenty of shrouds to hide behind.
And they are not all bad. Good people doing good things sometimes need the protection of anonymity. Whistle blowers, for example. Or those who alert authorities to dangers or bad behavior. Likewise, I receive many anonymous letters, calls and emails that are friendly. They range from those offering news tips to those telling bad jokes.
One came from a woman who was dying and had me on her bucket list of people to contact. Another was sent by woman who’d been laid off from her job and said in part, “I’m 43 years old, and I’ve been working since I was 16. My husband is 45. We’ve been married 22 years, and we’ve always worked. A year ago I lost my job. Six months ago his job was outsourced to India. We have three children, one that’s 18. We were going to try to help them get through college but, um … anyway, I was just wondering… I mean I feel invisible.”
Recently, however, for every good-hearted “invisible” person I hear from there seem to be ten anonymous trolls.