Friday, October 18, 2013

The Many Faces of Anonymity

Ed's Note: Thank you Robyn for inspiring this totally depressing post.  As an aside check out Robyn's extremely depressing powerful blog!:

The world is full of a collection of so-called "characters".  People who just don't fit into the normal bounds of "good society".  People who, at their worst, make you want to cross the street lest their foul auras somehow shine directly on you.

There are meth-heads, trannys, people who reek of beer at 7:00 am.  Street hustlers, hookers, the mentally diseased, crack heads, pot smokers, drag queens, pickpockets, hoodlums, three card monte dealers, tatted up punks, overly pierced.  You see them and wonder how you are all descended from the same gene pool.

Your gene pool.

You, who would never associate with such a bizzare mix of the masses.  You, all bottled up, buttoned down and presentable to the outside world as the "Normie" you are.

You who instead let your wildest side come out anonymously on the internet.

Who are you?  Why are you here?  You are seeking release.  You are seeking torture.  You want to inflict pain.  You need to "come out" in some way that you cannot adequately describe, not even to yourself. You need to escape the harsh decrees of your leadership/wife/husband/society.

You, normal one, who escapes into a faceless place where you can gloriously be anyone or anything you want.  A place where the power of your words is more important than the color of your skin, your sex or your hygiene.  A place where you are anyone other than your normal self.
Anyone.  Anything.
You pretend that its all a game.  Just a release.  This isn't really who you are, simple a manifestation of your boredom.  This person who likes to manipulate or watch or perform - this isn't the real you.  This is just a "game".  You don't really like to manipulate faceless strangers.  you don't really like to say hurtful things.  This is all meaningless fun.  Shits and giggles.  The real you, love able ol' you, would never really do this. 
Who are you?  Who am I?  Which is the real us? 

I have seen many blog-debates centered on anonymity.  They all run the same arguments over and over.  If I an anon, does what I say really matter since I am hiding?  And the arguments run back and forth and they are all missing the point.  People are hiding because they are here to be someone else.

I already see all the comments:  "That's totally not true.  I'm anonymous because I'm worried about my shidduch prospects."  Or "because of work".  Or "because".

but think about that for a second.  If you cannot properly express yourself in "real life", what does that say about you?  It says to me that you are hiding something somewhere

[Ed's note:  I am not speaking from my high horse.  I am anonymous because i am hiding too.  I don't want people to know who I am.  But I don't pretend different.]

Hiding.  We do it so that we can be free.  If only for a short while and if only in a very limited capacity.  Free within the confines of the World Wide Web.  Free to be different.  Free to be wild.  Free to laugh.  Free to talk dirty.  Free to do all the things that your society/religion/spouse doesn't let you do. 

But in the end, you log off with the knowledge that whatever you have just done was all in good fun. That the thumbtacks you stuck in someone's brain are not real world problems for you to deal with.  That whatever happens online stays online.  And you can go back to your regularly scheduled program with the knowledge that you haven't done anything wrong - that those slight tremors of guilt you feel will be gone before you open your eyes to face the following morning.  Back to your bottled up, buttoned down and presentable world where all the freaks of nature are just a passing annoyance to your perfect day.

Until the next time you put on your mask.


  1. BRAVO! Sheer brilliance.

    Oh, and thanks for the shout out. :)

  2. Wait - brilliant because of the shout out or because of the piece itself? :)

  3. Hmm...I don't know....

    I'm anonymous too. I don't want anyone to know who I am. I want to be free to say whatever I want and to me myself. But not because I want to be wild or hurtful. I am as careful not to hurt anyone anonymously as I am in my real life.

    It sounds like you were hurt by anonymous people online, and I'm sorry about that. But I'm guessing those aren't the nicest people in their real life either..

  4. Then there are those of us who aren't anonymous... ;)