The power of anonymous

I have an archive full of unpublished blog posts.

Some of them exist only in my brain, swimming around, keeping me awake at night until I finally cave in, turn on the light and write them out.

Others are already written, stored deep in the bowels of my computer’s hidden cyber-recesses.

A select few have made it as far as being stored and saved here in WordPress. Some devoted hacker could probably get to them in 30 seconds flat if there were any hackers who cared what a lone redhead atheist felt like ranting about months ago.

Tonight I almost registered a new domain, and I still might. An outlet for these rants, too controversial, too powerful, too intense even for the Banned Thoughts blog.

But then, I realized, that is what this blog was originally supposed to be about. Banned thoughts, radical truths, deep reality.

But, here in this new cyber-social world it’s often hard for me to go there. Why? Well, if you jump to the homepage of my business website, you’ll see I pull in this blog. So, while I don’t mind offending and scaring off the occasional potential new client with a rant about gay rights, abortion, education or freedom FROM religion, I do find myself tempering those rants to some degree.

This blog also auto posts to twitter and to my personal facebook page as well, so no rants about close friends or family. My old boss used to read it, I don’t know if my new boss ever has, but just in case I try to keep my corporate ranting to a minimum.

In this new cyber-social reality everything is interconnected, every thought, every post, every undotted i and uncrossed t, a potential landmine down the road.

I used to make fun of people with full body tattoos and facial tattoos – “What do you mean, what am I staring at? You tattooed your FACE. You know that’s never coming off, right?”

Well, the internet is like a giant full body, face and soul tattoo. Everything we put out is there for life, or beyond. And unless you’re a really good hacker, it’s all traceable right back to your breakfast bar where you sit every morning spewing out another rant.

There is no such thing as being anonymous on the web. Everything we do is tracked, measured and sold to the highest bidder.

I know, I create fake online identities as part of my job. They’re easy to set up and you think they’re anonymous and untraceable, but it took a team of three rookie hackers about 45 seconds to pull them apart when I peed in their twitter-pool.

Now consider that I don’t even try to keep this anonymous. Anyone who reads my blog can get to my website, e-mail me, call me, if anyone was so inclined they could follow me on twitter or find me on facebook. (Don’t take it personally  if I don’t friend you back, I’m a facebook prude.)

My friends use my name in the comments, and I use theirs in my posts.

But sometimes, sometimes, a thought is so dangerous, so powerful, so radical that it almost NEEDS to be shouted anonymously.

Think about the great collective “anonymous”, the Chanology group working to take down Scientology, or at least get their tax exempt status revoked. They have wreaked wonderful havoc on the Cult of Scientology (which, before you get all uppity in my face IS a cult, started by a couple of sci-fi authors AS A JOKE. It was a con to see if they could start a religion and show the world how easy it was to dupe the masses. The joke’s on them, it worked too well!) They wouldn’t have had the power to do what they did if their faces, names and professional identities were known.

Think of all the folk tales, proverbs, and ancient anonymous wisdom handed down through the millenia to reach us now. Heck, even the Bible was written by anonymous. (No, it’s not the literal word of God, unless God is an abusive, bi-polar, egomaniacal sadist… With a very loving son who just wanted to forgive, and be forgiven for only being human. Hmm, I’ve probably offended my loyal readers enough without going all Freudian on the implications of that.)

So there is power in anonymity. Power that I do not have here at ThinkBannedThoughts simply because I have allowed myself to be named.

When I was in school I was asked, many times, to fill out anonymous teacher reviews, student reviews, votes, etc. Being the defiant and overly honest little twerp that I am, I ALWAYS signed my name, legibly. I was raised on the value of honesty. I was raised believing that if you were going to say something it was important to be willing to stand behind it, proud and tall. So I did.

Looking back though, I realize that by limiting myself to only the level of honesty I was willing to sign my name to I evaded the true honesty, the kind that might have gotten me tossed out of school, or that might have gotten a pedophile teacher out of the classroom, or kept a bigoted teacher from bullying another student, or…

There is power in anonymous. Power that, as this cyber-social reality engulfs us all, we might need to reclaim a little of. Not for hate speech, there’s quite enough of that out there already, thank you. But for forbidden wisdom, ancient disregarded truths, deep and disturbing insight into this brave new world we are waking up to.

If you need that place, a place of true freedom of expression, freedom from the hate mongers and fear mongers, a place where you don’t have to login via any of your existing social networks, a place where you can be… anonymous, let me know in the comments.

Or, perhaps we all need to get together and shout our true names and our true hearts loud enough to be heard and valued just the way we are. Perhaps, in this brave new world, we need to rise to the occasion and continue down our brazen path, hoping that the people who come to see us will respect us for our truths, even if they are different. Perhaps now, in this time when false anonymity is so prevalent, there is power in being bold enough to be named, if only we can overcome our own fears long enough to stave off self-censorship, no matter the consequences.

4 Comments

Filed under Rant

4 responses to “The power of anonymous

  1. Alisha Boykin

    Ahhhhh yes, consequences. Consequences and discomfort, the ever-avoided moral compass needles that most people incessantly try to avoid, outsmart and deny exist in direct correlation to their choices and actions. So in this case, anonymity is a drug enjoyed by most in their quest to be “heard” but not judged. People are judgmental, you either accept that and do just as you say, scream it all in confidence at the top of your lungs from every rooftop. I suppose the answer is different to everyone, because comfort is different to everyone. Comfort is instinctual. Some of us just HAVE a comfort with stirring things up without worry- thank goodness – because life could get very khaki. Thanks for the red!

    • My thoughts on consequences and anonymity on blogging is somewhat conflicted. If you free people entirely from consequence, some few people will behave badly. But the world is such that even things that you would consider innocuous can get you disqualified from a job in real life. I once read about how graduate schools would scrutinize and filter applicants based on how applicable their extracurricular activities are to their chosen field of study. If you post too much about video games, it may disqualify you for certain jobs or positions at universities, for instance.

      I still believe that if someone is invested in their online identity, if they have spent time building up a following or building a reputation as this online alias, that it will prevent the worst bullying and abuses that come with complete anonymity. I’ve been using my alias for nearly a decade now and am quite invested in it really. I post things with my real name elsewhere, but really prefer anything that isn’t related to work and family to be under this name. Like the article says, it would probably take all of 45 seconds to break through and find my real identity, but I try to keep them at least a little separate to the casual observer. Several people at my current job know about my blog and so forth, so it’s mainly one-way.

  2. I’d like to be more anonymous, just because there are somethings I need to say that would hurt loved ones now or in the future when they are grown up… And I want to be able to write things I want to write without having to worry about the censure of people I know!

  3. Pingback: An argument against anonymity | ThinkBannedThoughts Blog

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