Grrr! Anonymous From Cyberspace

The most Grrring thing about the Internet is the anonymity.

Recently I posted a "Your Grrr" that I thought was one of the wittiest things I'd read in a long time. I even thought, wow, I wish I could think of something as clever as that. I posted it with credit going to the e-mailer. Here is the post:

Ryan C in Austin, Texas: My GRRR is how everything under the sun is now done on a "pre" basis. Pre-leasing, pre-purchase, pre-board, the list goes on. By definition pre means beforehand, in advance of. So an apartment complex that is pre-leasing is really doing nothing (how can one lease before one can lease?) And everything is pre-purchase, until you buy it. And how can a person get on board an airplane before he gets on the airplane? The unintelligent try to drum up a sense of excitement and exclusivity by preying on the consumer's want to be first at something; by pre-whatevering, you can do it before it can actually be done. I could go on, but that would be pre-posterous!

Well, thanks to Grrr! reader Michael Halkias, I can rest easier, knowing that the gist of that "pre" rant is originally from George Carlin, (search) one of the most gifted comedians/satirists of our time, and a way more talented writer than I am.

You know, half the time I when I'm reading e-mails these days, I can't help but wonder if the person really is who he or she says.

Regular readers might remember "Tim the bad Grammar Guy." He wrote an e-mail about how he grew up on tough streets and someone like me wouldn't know what to do in a tough situation. Click here to read his email (you'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the column.)

Tim generated a lot of e-mail from the Grrr! readers, but it wouldn't surprise me if Tim were some 14-year-old kid living in Mommy and Daddy's McMansion in the Cleveland suburbs.

Anonymity can be fun, but it can also be dangerous.

People can write libelous things about others and never have to account for it, to say nothing of the sexual predators who linger in online chat rooms. That's why parents and sane people everywhere applaud Yahoo! Inc.'s latest announcement that they are moving to shut down any chat rooms that deal with adult-minor sexual content. I'm not really sure how these chat rooms can exist at all, but it's a good move by Yahoo! nonetheless.

I also love the letters to the editor section of newspapers. Here in New York, those pages are chock full of A-Rod hate mail, after the overpaid baseball player's dismal showing in the American League playoffs.

Alex Rodriguez will undoubtedly be booed immensely when he takes the field next season. But if A-Rod ever ran into one of his detractors one-on-one, said detractor would be "your biggest fan," and ask for an autograph.

Once again, it goes back to the power of anonymity, or the classic mob-mentality cliche. Now, don't get me wrong, booing A-Rod to his face is probably not a good move. He's a big guy.

Just like so many people Grrr! actor Sean Penn, but if you ran into him on the street I doubt you'd tell him to shut up about foreign relations. You'd probably say something like "loved you in 'Fast Times'"!

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. I'd probably do the same thing. Who needs that confrontation? The point is we're all braver in this type of space then we are face-to-face. Hey, that rhymes.

Take that, George Carlin!

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Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for, writes the Grrr! Column and hosts the weekly "The Real Deal" webcast on and