Like any technology, the internet can be used for good or bad. Lots of folks complain that anonymity protects the trolls. But anonymity can protect the people who want to speak out without being discriminated against.
Perhaps a clear tale of the dynamics going both ways involve Academic Batgirl. Yep, Academic Batgirl. Here's her tale. I had seen her tweets get re-tweeted and enjoyed much of what she had to say: a nice mix of snark and insight and a perspective by a female academic faced with many challenges that white guys like me know little about. Her use of pictures and memes and her reliance on one of my favorite characters growing up have made her stuff quite appealing to me.
Alas, of course, some asshole has to try to squelch her. Someone figured out who she is and then threatened her. Which sucks. I wish we had this guy's identity so that he could pay some social consequences, but I guess she chooses not to identify him to minimize the risks to herself. And I get that. My satisfaction at shaming someone is less important than her ability to return to the internet and be the voice that is so very powerful.
Given my posts of late about the paucity of women full professors, this is great news:
So, congratulations and welcome back, Academic Batgirl. We need superheroes like you to inspire and inform.