Being Anonymous

Why is the promise of anonymity so powerful?

From a writing standpoint I know all the reasons authors write under pseudonyms, not the least of which is the need for their families to not see what they are writing. But I’m wondering about this from a more generalized standpoint.

This past weekend my husband told me about a social media site called Whisper. People can post similar to Twitter or Facebook, but completely anonymous. I told him I found that rather creepy. He said some people need that in order to talk honestly about depression, identity, etc.

That makes me wonder about a society where we need a safety net of anonymous in order to be honest about who we are. In an ideal world that net would not be needed. But of course we are far from an ideal world.

With that said, I still find Whisper creepy. Maybe it’s the name. A whisper implies something secretive, sneaky, maybe even slightly cruel. After all, why whisper unless you don’t want someone else to hear? Remember those awful middle school and high school days when you’d be walking down the hall and see two kids whispering and giggling and know, just absolutely know, that it was about you? Remember that feeling in the pit of your stomach? That’s what the word ‘whisper’ implies to me.

Which brings me back to my initial question. Why is being anonymous so powerful? Why does it allow you to say or do things, or for that matter to post photos or behaviors, that you would not do if your name was attached? In a way it lowers inhibitions. So why are inhibitions lowered simply because your identity no longer exists?

I understand there are instances where personal safety could be seriously compromised if your name was visible, but I’m thinking here more about societal norms than politics, terrorism, racism, etc. Anonymous simply for the sense of power, not for safety or causes.

I don’t understand, and possibly because of that, I am going to strive to always sign my name, and if I’m doing something I don’t want my name attached to, then I better think twice about what I’m doing and why. Otherwise I may lose my identity by the simple act of not claiming my identity.

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