What is anonymity? Simply put anonymity means without a name. How many times have we as a society wished that we could remain anonymous? Many times we do have reasons for wanting to remain that way since depending on the society in which we live making certain comments or “liking” certain articles or groups online can lead to persecution. But today, let’s focus on one aspect of anonymity: how does being “nameless” help us as individuals?
While reading today, I cam across this article Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg: Anonymity online needs to ‘Go Away’. It was interesting to read that Facebook, one of society’s leading social networks believe that anonymity should no longer exist and they have taken steps to reducing it. Guess Facebook is not that bad after all! But why do persons even want to remain anonymous on Facebook? Facebook hardly leads to any form of persecution. Or does it? Bullying is one of the biggest ills that young persons in society has to deal with today. Let’s imagine a young person who has been constantly bullied all through high school. All he wants is an outlet to “be somebody else”. To be this “real cool kid” who is popular with the ladies, have lots of friends, has muscles and a cute face with no acne. What better way to be that person than to create a Facebook profile with a photoshop picture on it. Is he wrong for wanting to do so?
Maslow’s Heirachy of Needs demonstrates to us exactly what people want from the internet. The basic social needs that persons desire are self-esteem, friendship, achievement, self-respect, confidence and to some extent sexual intimacy. Anonymity gives us the ability to remain nameless. See the connection yet? By creating a ‘fake’ profile this young man can create an alter ego where he is everything that society accepts. He oozes confidence, looks good and can speak with people who would never speak to him under normal circumstances. All of this just from sitting behind the screen of a computer. But there is also the downside to him being anonymous. He may now take it further and bully the students who bully him every day. He now has the opportunity to use this alter ego to shun or even let these bullies experience what life is for him. He may soon become the very thing he didn’t like about the others.
Whereas we all want the internet to provide us with that sense of security, being anonymous is not always healthy. Sometimes we need to find happiness n security within ourselves before relying on social media to do so for us. Being nameless is not always good even at the times when it satisfies our social needs.