Anonymity: Our Deadliest Weapon Yet

Ever since the releases of the Honesty Box and Formspring, the Internet has become our very own (mainstream) Guy Fawkes mask. Hiding behind our computers, we have the power to write whatever we want to whomever we want without leaving any kind of signature… in other words, 4chan isn’t the only place where you can remain completely anonymous anymore.

Sometimes I wonder if the anonymity is too much for our society to handle, especially starting at such a young age. Visit any typical Formspring page and you will find a myriad of “questions” that, in reality, no one would ever ask. While some questions may be genuine and some even kindhearted, many of the more cowardly Internet dwellers will use Formspring to completely insult the person whose page they have visited — even if they have no reason at all to do so.

Although I haven’t been targeted to any extreme, I know many people who have, and I’m often disgusted by the questions I see on friends’ pages. The scariest part is, often these comments aren’t even from strangers — they come from people whose paths we cross every day! In my close circle of friends at school, many have received questions and comments alluding to personal information that we haven’t shared with a lot of people — very A from Pretty Little Liars, I might add — and it can be amusing, but at the same time I have to wonder where the questions are coming from. On the one hand, we feel like we have our own little mystery going on (not just based on our Internet foes, but other strange incidents from last year), but on the other hand, it’s creepy to think that a random acquaintance of ours would say anything so invasive or rude.

Personal story aside, I am dying to know what makes it acceptable for us to say certain things just because we’re anonymous. Do we think we’ll hurt people any less? Do we think we’re any safer from disapproval if we don’t say things outright? What makes it okay to insult someone completely unprovoked?

2 thoughts on “Anonymity: Our Deadliest Weapon Yet

  1. Paul says:

    If someone writes something anonymously, in my mind it looses credibility.
    I don’t think there is ever a need to be rude or cruel. Certainly you can give your opinion, but I don’t even think you should do that if you are not willing to identify yourself or at least allow other to respond to what you say.

    In my mind, there is never a reason to be mean to anyone. People who are should really be questioning what is wrong with them. Why do they feel the need?

    Great topic!

    • Valerie says:

      I agree… what does anyone gain from cruelty? People who sit around insulting others, especially anonymously through the Internet, aren’t happy with themselves and shouldn’t be taking it out on the rest of the world.

      Thank you for the comment!

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