There’s a huge negative connotation to being anonymous on the internet these days and with all of the people who abuse their anonymity, you may be thinking what possible positive side to anonymity there could be. How could there possibly be something good about something that allows people to facelessly harass and generally annoy the shit out of others? Well, as I’ve always been told by heartfelt movies and TV shows, every cloud has a silver lining.
In an article by entitled “In Defense of Internet Anonymity”, author Wendy McElroy brings up a few major perks for anonymity. First, the anonymity of the internet allows you to be who you truly are without the fear of being judged. This is a huge plus for many ranging from LGBTQ people who are afraid of people who will judge them based on their sexuality to those who just want to get their stories and experiences out there into the world without showing their faces.
Another large perk to internet anonymity is the power to say anything you want. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that one of the negative things about anonymity? You’d be correct, dear reader. However, when used correctly, anonymous words can be extremely powerful in a very positive way. Have you ever complained about your looks or your personality and had a friend reassure you that you were fine? I know when this happens to me, I always think about how they’re my friend, and they’re supposed to reassure me, and that makes it mean less. Well with anonymity online, this removes that thought entirely. If I go on Tumblr and post about how fat I think I am, I’m undoubtedly going to get anonymous messages reassuring me that I’m perfect the way I am. Could some of those be from my real life friends? Perhaps. But the fact that they say it anonymously proves that they mean it. I know, it sounds silly, but it’s true. It removes the friend-obligation we have to reassure our pals that they’re wonderful. Everything’s coming from the heart.
Being anonymous online is a freeing experience. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to express your opinions without being immediately judged by others. I tell all of my friends that I hate Glee because they think it’s the dumbest show on television. On the internet, however, I can talk about how I’ve seen every episode and am heavily invested in Rachel and Finn’s relationship ups and downs. I can join this online community of people who like something I have to pretend to hate in real life, and I can talk about it freely. This is the beauty of the internet and its facelessness. As Wendy McElroy says in her article, “the right to withhold your identify, like the right to remain silent, is not the sign of a thug or child predator. It is the sign of a free human being.”