Detraction

Is it detraction if the person spoken about is kept anonymous?

Just curious.:shrug:

Potentially, I think so.

A few things to think about:

Are you sure they will remain anonymous? Perhaps the person you are talking to can guess the identity.

Or arguably even worse, jump to conclusions about the wrong person (or even group of people if they leap to generalisations).

Or even if they don’t know the person, perhaps they will meet them one day, and your detraction will come into effect then.

Of course, there may be proportionate reasons to discuss the faults of others and in such a case there is no sin of detraction. If there is a good reason to discuss this person’s faults, anonymously or otherwise, then there is no sin - eg you want advice on how to deal with a difficult situation, which is the basis for many post on this very forum. But if there is no reason to discuss, then simply don’t discuss it.

Anonymity is weak. You can’t easily tell how secure it is, and once the person’s identity is discovered, you can’t take back what you said.

Here is an example of anonymity gone wrong here at CAF: In a recent thread, [deleted]* revealed some embarrassing information about [deleted] and asked for advice about it. Her CAF username is not her real name, so no worries, right? Wrong! In her CAF public profile, she gives [deleted], [deleted], and [deleted]. Most likely, some people of [deleted] would know or could easily find out who [deleted] is. If one were to look up previous posts, many additional clues would be found, like [deleted], making it even easier to identify [deleted].

You might not be that careless, but you might easily include some detail that you think is insignificant that would enable someone with different knowledge and insight to guess who you are talking about. It is even worse if you are communicating face-to-face because they might read your facial expression, tone of voice, or posture, and they may ask questions that, if answered in any way, could provide additional clues. If they guess right, that is clearly a problem for the anonymous person, but it is also a problem if they guess it’s another person and speak or act upon that guess.

  • P.S. Oh, no! I’ve done it too! :o I have disclosed the faults and failings of an anonymous person and given you enough clues to figure it out… I’ll go back and delete some key words. Hopefully it’s not too late…

What if it’s some totally random person.

E.g “when I was on vacation in the northern Siberia I saw this guy who did…”

Simply relating what you saw some person do is not detraction. If you intend to smear someone’s reputation–whether you know the facts or not, certainly is detraction.

I can say I don’t like the policies of a politician, for instance, but to cast doubts on his character through hints or opinions about him would be detraction.

Maybe its not, but what you relate to the audience could end up smearing the anonymous person’s reputation.

Or maybe you have to be talking about someone specific to smear their reputation?

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