Anonymity and Digital Culture

Internet culture is growing to become significantly more personal. Google can read your own private emails, as well as sell and market them to other companies for own personal profit without you ever knowing. As internet and technology is becoming more expansive part of society remains hopeful that we could potentially return to how the internet was a few years ago. Part of society wishes that we could return to the original internet platforms where people could say what they actually felt, or thought without worrying about the consequences or if people knew their identity. Anonymity was one of the most favored original characteristics with the rise of the internet. More privacy issues are arising day by day with different celebrity’s nude pictures being leaked to the media, and various marketing techniques such as data mining gathering information from the websites you most commonly visit.While we are seeing privacy starting to disappear in the digital realm many types of websites and forums that are returning to using anonymity are growing popular.

When thinking about anonymity I’ve taken a look at forums such as Chan 4 and Reddit. Although Chan 4 is becoming old news and dying out Reddit is more in demand than ever. Mobile applications such as Yik Yak is becoming one of the top apps amongst college-aged adults and even younger generations in high school, or even middle school. Yik Yak takes the common anonymous-themed platform Reddit uses and allows individuals in the same area to say whatever is on their mind for everyone to see. The users click the “up” arrow if they like the post or “yak” and click the “down” arrow if they don’t like the post. As I see this anonymity once again becoming a common theme amongst the most desired internet platforms it is evident that society likes using the internet to help society be a truer form of democracy.

-“Reddit can make you feel more like a citizen of the internet than a citizen of your own country”

Frequent users of Reddit have been known to use the platform for a sense of community and belonging, they democratically push content up to the top that they thing is morally important, or right. The back and forth discussion encouraged on these types of forums are way more interesting than typical discussion on platforms such as Facebook because no one knows who you are if you don’t want them to.

Although this anonymity can not always turn out well because it allows individuals to express their negative views about controversial issues like misogyny and highly sexist remarks about women and in favor of sexual abuse. However most of the population on the virtual world of Reddit as well as in the real world are good, and do believe in doing good for each other. A trend amongst Reddit users at one point was even called Random Acts of Pizza. Reddit users would share their stories and struggles with other Reddit users and based on what they were going through, other users would have a pizza delivered to their home to make them feel better and remind them that they are cared about.

Reddit as well as Yik Yak and other social forums create the concept of speech communities as well as language ideologies. These communities usually interact with one another the same way, have no censorship, speak similarly and have similar backgrounds or share similar interests, or concerns that links them together. Ideally these speech communities form a sense of membership to one another.

“ the way Reddit works is that it tends to attract people who want to know the truth”

These types of communities can be seen as both beneficial but also problematic to society as well. These forums are beneficial because it helps eliminate that sort of “digital disconnect” that technology and the internet is supposedly causing by connecting individuals and encouraging uncensored through discussions. However if these types of forums continue to grow more and more popular there could be repercussions or limits that the government could try to place on it due to controversial topics they discuss. Also companies are already trying to use this forum to find a new way market to consumers. All of this makes me wonder if this will lead to the creation of new anonymous forums or websites and if the internet in it’s entirety will become more “anonymous”. Time will only tell.

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