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Give a man mask // The power of anonymity online

Give a man a mask, and he’ll tell you the truth. – Oscar Wilde. Sometimes the human race terrifies me. There seems to be some…


anonymity online

Give a man a mask, and he’ll tell you the truth.

– Oscar Wilde.

Sometimes the human race terrifies me. There seems to be some nasty characteristics that most of us harbour. These are very evident across multiple social groups, communities and cultures. Most of us recognise the negativity we may feel or think towards others as immoral or almost evil, so will push it aside, forget about it and simple let it go.

There seems to be something inside of people that enjoys the failings and suffering of others. It’s horrible really, isn’t it?

I question whether hate is human nature. The whole ‘if I’m going to suffer, everyone else should also suffer’ mentality. It’s like we get a kick out of bringing each other down a peg or two.

I know something interesting about lobsters. You don’t have to put a lid on the pot when you cook female lobsters, does anybody know why? Well, when you cook a pot of male lobsters–when they realize they’re in this pot of boiling water, they all start totally freaking out, they’re like ‘fuck we gotta get out of here!’ so they start making these little ladders and helping each other get out of the pot so you have to put a lid on the pot to keep them inside. But female lobsters, you don’t have to put a lid on the pot. Because once they realize they’re in a pot of boiling water they all just start grabbing each other and holding each other, they’re like, “If I’m gonna die, we’re all gonna die,” none of them wants to let any of the other ones get out of the pot, it’s a real shame, isn’t it?

– The L Word.

The power of anonymity online

The true colours of a human can really show when hidden behind a cloak of anonymity. This is specifically evident on social media websites or online communities. Take YouTube, for example. Fuck me – people can be disgusting in the comments there! They send threats of violences, call people fat, ugly, make racist remarks. They tell parents that their kids are retarded, that they are abusing them, that they are not fit parents, that they wish they were dead.

It’s called deindividuation by psychologist. Basically, when in a mask, uniform or a group, you stop seeing yourself as an individual and don’t see others that way and fail to see how you’re hurting someone.

It’s so much easier to be nasty or brutally honest with somebody when you think you’ll never become face to face with that person. A person would be much more likely to call somebody a ‘fucking ugly bastard that needs to die’ behind a screen name, than to their face.

The whole Rebecca Black/Friday saga was just horrific. For those that don’t know – Rebecca Black as a girl who’s mother paid for her to have a song recorded and a video made as a birthday present. The song ended up going viral and was known as the worst song in history. It wasn’t a great song, but she didn’t deserve the hate and bullying she was subjected to. The 13/14 year old was subjected to hate mail and death threats. Comments such as:

‘I hope you cut yourself and I hope you get an eating disorder so you’ll look pretty and I hope you go cut and die.’


All because they didn’t like her song.

What on earth!

The good thing is that the internet is trying to do something about this anonymity problem to stop such nasty comments and hate online. With the increase of idenity-centric social networks, we’re often robbed of our opportunity to pretend to be someone else and forced to take responsibility or accountability for our actions.

When YouTube forced commenters into Google Plus, there was uproar. Concerned users cried out about their lack of personal identity and privacy. Google forced people to comment under their real name, rather than a username and a lot of people hated it- it sparked a petition to try and get the old comment system back.

Now you can easily sign-in to websites and networks using sign in plug-ins such as Facebook and Twitter. Another way of taking away a persons anonymity online. One click and you’re signed up as your Facebook name.

Is taking away a persons invisible cloak also taking away their right to privacy and their freedom of speech? Or is it just forcing them to be accountable for their actions?

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  1. The quote at the beginning about the lobsters says it all. I am not sure it is a women trait around the world or a very british trait. Men are often supportive of one another, women on the other hand don’t think well done when someone does well the claws come out. My parents from a very young age taught me not to sit in judgement of others, if someone does something well celebrate it. I am not plotting how I can bring them down to make myself feel better. Great post Lucyx

    1. Your parents did very well to teach you that as I’m sure a lot of parents wouldn’t think to tell people to celebrate peoples success etc!

  2. I’m in two minds about this. Yes, people should be held accountable for their actions, especially when they’re being cruel to others. I’ll be honest, I very rarely read comments on YouTube videos as I find some of the hate terrifying and disturbing. They would never go up to these people in real life who put their lives on the internet for entertainment and repeat some of the horrifying comments they write online. So yes, they should be held accountable and they should not get away with it. BUT, at the same time, I can see why some people would be angry about the lack of anonymity as the internet is a place where they can pursue interests and hobbies that they don’t want people in their real life/work place to know about, and no, I don’t mean anything sordid but just look at how many bloggers don’t tell friends/family offline that they blog?

    It’s swings and round-a bouts. There should still be some anonymity, but there should be a way of cracking down on all of the hate and abuse.

    Sarah 🙂
    Saloca in Wonderland

    1. I guess that’s right around the anonymity thing, plenty of people do prefer to be private but not for malicious reasons. I think it’s a case of a few bad eggs ruin it for the rest.

  3. I am all for having to sign in as a person when you want to start posting your opinions and thoughts online. To be honest, if a person still wanted to be anon on the internet they can be. They just have to create fake profiles, fake twitters, fake Google plus accounts and all that, in a way it discourages people that are just horrible for the sake of it and leaves those that have “being a complete twat at all times” as a more serious hobby of theirs…

    It’s sad, it’s horrible and I agree, there are no meaner people that anon people on the internet. Everyone should be responsible for their actions and why should you be entitled to anonymity on the web from them when in real life you can never be anon…

    ~ K

  4. This was such a pleasure to read, it was truly eye opening and has brought alot of thought to mind, particularly the lobster example. Jealousy and hate unfortunately is a very common trait amongst everyone, I just wish everyone could learn to be more supportive of one another. The world would be a much better and happier place to live in.

    Love, Ana

  5. I think it’s a case of some people ruining it for the rest in youtube’s case. There are many perfectly innocent reasons why people want to comment anonymously but in order to stop the hate on there I guess they got to do what they got to do!

    Amy at Amy & More

  6. This is so interesting! Accountability is dangerously lacking on the internet, but I don’t think signing in with your personal profile is going to stop the bullying. It might help a little, but I think the bigger issue is that you don’t see the people you are interacting with and that somehow makes the other users not real. Perhaps the biggest problem with internet bullying is that people feel justified in their criticisms. The mainstream media has set the standard for tearing people apart one headline at a time, so should anyone be surprised that this attitude is being copied?

    1. You’re right, it’s scary how people can feel so justified in their criticisms then and mainstream media do lead it to some extent.

  7. I think that Internet fosters coward actions. On the other hand, I fear the lack of privacy. It’s a difficult issue to tackle. What I can’t understand is that hatred against others…

    Jasmine x
    For a Real Woman
    So easy Spanish!

  8. Interesting post – something I’ve had on my mind too! Get ready for a long comment 😉 the human race terrifies me too. Since starting uni I’ve become aware of what an awful state our world is in – and it’s actually contributed to my depression. I’m definitely the type of person who lives to make others happy, celebrate others successes and try to improve the world! Interesting about lobsters – however I don’t think it applies to humans at all. I don’t think that’s a gender thing, I think that’s a personality thing and some men help others, some don’t and climb over other people, same with women. We can’t just generalize an entire gender like that! (Although I do find girls terrifying – might be personal experience though!:P) i really don’t get internet hate, or any kind of hate! As someone who suffered death threats from people at school – i know how awful it is and either people don’t realise the effect it has on peoples lives, or they don’t care. Those who have been bullied are likely to suffer depression, anxiety, lots of suicides and are more likely to be unemployed!

    (Last point I swear!:P) i think comments shouldn’t be anonymous because people need to be responsible for their actions. This is my personal view, as I said, I’ve been bullied and too many people get away with it while the victims suffer in silence.

    Great post! So thoughtful xo

    1. Haha, the long comment is more than welcome. I’m a bit scared that I’ll start to realise more things when I get a bit older and be even more terrified of humans!

  9. I have been thinking about this a lot too! I am so disheartened by the hate on the Saccone Joly’s videos, so I think I might actually post my thoughts now that I’ve read yours.

    Just remember there are good people out there too!
    Lots of love 🙂 x

    1. Oh yeah! I love the Saccone Joly’s. Anna gets so much stick! I remember one video when she was really upset about it all. It must get so hard to have to read such personal digs on a daily basis! Not everyone likes everyone in this world but unless they are causing pain/damage to someone or something I don’t see a reason to point out peoples flaws.

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