There’s that very famous New Yorker cartoon: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The cartoon was first published in 1993 — fairly interesting, I think, because it shows that by the early 1990s, the Internet had achieved if not a popular appeal, then enough of one that those who read the New Yorker could chuckle about the reference. The cartoon demonstrates too this sense that we have long had that the Internet offers privacy and anonymity, that we can experiment with identities online in ways that are severed from our bodies, from our material selves and that, potentially at least, the Internet can allow online participation for those denied it offline.
But sometimes when folks on the Internet discover “you’re a dog,” they do everything in their power to put you back in your place, to remind you of your body. To punish you for being there. To hurt you. To destroy you. Online and offline.
–Audrey Watters on identity.