June 24, 2013 by Liberty
Companies know everything about us these days. There is virtually no information about the average person that some corporation around the world doesn’t know. A person’s gmail account alone can provide almost every intimate detail of life. Google has every users name, phone number, list of contacts, online purchase records (confirmations), internet histories. It also has many people’s schedules, blogs, entertainment preferences, and virtually everything else about our life. Anonymity is gone. There is no turning back now.
This thought can make any minor conspiratorial mind break into crazy intracorporate conspiracy convulsions. It can be scary to think about the power these companies have over you. They’ve even shown that they’re willing to share this information for advertising purposes. It can get awfully creepy to think about.
It can really seem like a bad thing.
It’s not always that simple though.
What Is The Value of Anonymity
Staying anonymous is fundamentally about people not knowing who you are. (HOLY CRAP! That’s a deep insight, isn’t it?) It probably sounds ridiculous to mention such an obvious point but many people tend to look at anonymity like a value in itself. It’s just a tool that people used to express their values.
There is nothing inherently good about anonymity. The only good that can come from it is the way that people use it. People can become anonymous to rob a bank. They can also become anonymous to protest or protect against a tyrannical government.
The bank robber holds onto anonymity tightly. Their career absolutely requires anonymity. People do not like people that rob banks. The bank robber will, probably, never reveal his identity in connection with the robbery, even years later. This is the kind of anonymous that people need to watch out for.
Anonymous can be used for things that people find noble as well. This can be considered a bit of the “superhero” style. This is often used among government protesters to prevent persecution based on political beliefs. Like the superhero’s from the comic books, the ones that really make a different are not all that common. In fact, the majority of major influential political figures identities were never hidden.
The Real Hero’s
You can recognize the names of the most powerful political people in history. One of the first name’s that comes to my mind is Ghandi but I’m sure you can think of a few (Martin Luther King Jr., etc.) These are all people that did not stay anonymous is their beliefs. In fact, the true hero’s tend to announce their identity, even when they know it might cost them their life.
A movement cannot be created and sympathized with when run anonymously. People cannot sympathize with anonymous. They can sympathize with a human face, a name, or a family. I’d even argue that the growth of a movement has everything to do with the risks of persecution that people are willing to face.
Anonymity may be in the crowd of protesters but it’s not often on the stage.
Anonymous Brings Out The Weakest
The following section is something I can write, solely because I suffer from it myself. I like anonymity.
When I produce something with my name on it, I get scared. I always review my work. I make sure not to say anything that might cause trouble for myself. When I produce something anonymously, I care a whole lot less. I don’t worry about the phrasing quite as much. I’m not afraid of it not being good enough. The sad truth is, I produce more controversial and less quality work.
When anonymous, people don’t have to fear everyone hating them for what they say, that means they’re not quite as careful saying it. Isn’t it true that you can say anything if you phrase it right? I’m sure you know what I mean. Change a couple words in any sentence and you can make it half or twice as offensive. When anonymous I might make it twice as offensive (that helps marketing.) When using my name I might make it half as offensive (that makes me sleep better.)
A similar trend can be found in just about every anonymous action. Anonymity is rarely, if ever, a good thing. It represents the worst qualities of an individual. It represents someones fear of being judged. It represents insecurity. It is everything that is weak within a person.
Yes, it’s good not to be persecuted by violent minds but as long as the violent ones are showing their faces and the peaceful ones are in hiding, the violent ones will be the ones sympathized with.
Forget About Being Anonymous
I suffer from this disease as well. Don’t think I’m judging.
It doesn’t matter if Google knows who you’re sleeping with through your email records, or if your credit card company knows the bars you drink at. If you’re living a life that you’re proud of then you won’t suffer any consequences. Use these things to make you think twice about the life you live. Try to use them to become a person you’re proud of.
As much as I hate to say this, it doesn’t matter if the government knows something that can get you in trouble. You can try to avoid the cruelty of government but they’re always going to be fighting back. The more people hide in the shadows and work around government, the farther government is going to crush the average person. I can’t blame someone for picking life and freedom over unfair imprisonment but remember, everyday you hide, you end up only hurting yourself and future generations.
Every second that you waste trying to not get “caught” is a second you’re a slave to someone else. Sure, you can do a few simple things to improve your chances but please don’t worry that much. If you believe in what you’re doing and you’re not harming other people then you’re being unfairly persecuted. Nothing in the world will change that.
Anonymity is slowly fading into history. Use it as you want right now but it’s not going to be around forever to protect people. It’s getting replaced with something significantly more powerful: accountability.
Violent people and organizations do not fear anonymity. They survive and thrive on it. Accountability is what they fear.
Government is classifying more and more information but more and more information is getting leaked. It only takes one good person to slip up their ranks to cause chaos. Just look at the way they treat whistleblowers in government. Bradley Manning will be lucky if he ever see’s the light of day.
Governments are terrified that they will lose their anonymity. Naturally, their anonymity isn’t in names but in ranks and responsibility. Soon enough, people will be able to trace all government orders back to an individual. Those individuals will ultimately be held responsible for their actions.
Government grips onto classifying information like it’s their last hope.
Quite frankly, it might be government as we know it’s last hope of survival.