The Power of Anonymity

With the invention of the internet we began getting an increase in the ability to express our opinions and beliefs more freely, more importantly without fear of reprimand because of the safety of being anonymous. Sure, not all people express their opinions anonymously (like me for example), but a lot do. I’m not only talking about well thought out opinions that are really worth listening to, but also purposely hurtful words and words with the intention of triggering negative emotions of other people. This is unfortunate, because the ability to be anonymous on the internet could be a very positive privilege that brings out the best of people with new ideas and thoughts by people who are no longer afraid of being silenced or punished. In the Constitution we are promised freedom of speech, but we aren’t really given it fully due to many laws and censors surrounding what we can and can’t say. With the internet, these laws are trivial due to the difficulty of finding who said what. There is a way to find out who posts something. There is never any true case of anonymity (especially when involving technology and the internet), but this is the closest we’ll get. There are too many people saying things other people don’t want to hear or the government doesn’t want people to hear that it’s not worth the trouble punishing those that do. If a revolution were to start, it will most likely to begin on the internet.

Although, I want to talk about the bad side of being anonymous for a bit. From what I’ve seen, anonymity can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Normal people can turn into monsters when they no longer fear penalty. This can be seen in the comment sections of youtube and especially on the infamous website most known for anonymity, 4Chan. I don’t suggest going on this site, because people post some of the most disgusting and unnatural images I have ever seen. There are plenty of other examples of people using anonymity to be horrible people, like Rebecca Black’s “Friday”. I don’t believe it’s a good song, but it’s no excuse for the kind of things posted on the video. Many vicious comments were posted on her video, some telling her to kill herself or insulting her appearance or voice. Hurtful words that people post on the internet can lead to the target of the hateful words ending their lives. I will support their right to be able to say these things, because I believe in complete freedom of speech, but just because they can doesn’t mean they should. I don’t support the words themselves, but it’s just a negative consequence to freedom.

While people choose anonymity to do bad, there are people who express great opinions and criticisms that aren’t afraid of being punished, thus their true thoughts come out and great things can come from this. I choose to not be anonymous, because I want people to know who I am when I say something. Although, I appreciate that those who don’t can take refuge in the fact that they can say what they want freely. People have great things to say that they can’t always express to a large amount of people so easily, but with the internet and lack of fear we see these thoughts more often and it’s lovely.