online anonymity

So I’m going to start off with a commentary on one of my informal essays written in 12th grade (Oct ’09). It was for a continentwide contest, and I was able to get published in the Fall’09 volume. Check it out —

Anonymity on the Web

The curious minds of society today are being revealed. Controversial topics that we have always avoided bringing up around our family and friends are being discussed via online forums with no hesitation. Most of us tend to be more assertive and open-minded on the internet. Words that we were too embarrassed to say to someone emerge when we communicate through instant messaging. Some people will act a certain way towards others online, but in real life, they are a completely new person.

But have you ever seen those nasty, judgemental comments with poor grammar on various discussion boards? Although online anonymity is essential for keeping personal information safe, it can be badly misused. With the increasing popularity of social networking websites, cases of abuse from fake identities have been on the rise. A few years ago, aMissouriteenage girl even committed suicide because she could not handle the pressure of being cyber-bullied by a 50-year old woman disguised as a teenage boy.

Some people seem to have the mindset that consequences from giving offensive comments online can be avoided since they can hide behind an alias. These ignorant individuals tend to do this to gain the self-confidence that they do not have in public. This creates a distorted group of people who cannot speak for themselves in the real world.

Think before you speak, even on the internet. Although most of us are more thick-skinned on the web, there are sensitive people out there that you could easily offend.

So the word limit for this contest was 250 words, so it was meant for a quick blurb about any topic you wanted. I had a lot of issues writing informally back in high school (still do. I think). but I tried my best not to write passively. This was a topic I felt strong about at the time. Even now, it still applies.

Some people act differently online vs in real life. Well, I find that I act pretty similar in real life and online these days as I spend a fair amount of time in both realms. Online, I’m able to edit what I want to say, so obviously I sound more civil when I’m online.

Judgmental, rude people (Trolls). They are still everywhere on Youtube and forums and fan sites. I can’t say much except that they should either be ignored or blocked from whatever website.

Online anonymity has really fled to a different level now with the boom of social networking. It’s not necessarily anonymity anymore, everyone has a username that can be traced to other accounts on other sites or forums. The web makes it easier for everyone to discuss a variety of topics. People are encouraged to share blog posts or news articles or a viral Youtube video to let their friends/family know what’s new, and when I say share.. I mean share to every social network out there. Keeping up with the news is an important thing, after all.

The future?
Facebook plans on introducing Timelines. Seems like an interesting concept that many people will really dislike, and many others will be willing to try it out and probably love it. New layout reminds me of the ~2007 layout, back when wall posts were numbered and one could drag and drop apps onto their profile. Although now, people can know everything about you.. from the day you were born. Could seem scary to some, and cool to others. We’ll see how it debuts.