The Nightmare of Anonymity

Some chick helped me fix my phone yesterday.

What bothers you about that sentence?

The “some chick” part. Fixing a phone seems like a non-offensive, gender-neutral activity we can all accept.

But, some chick…boy, it drives people insane. Every time I have ever used that phrase, I have had to follow it with 15 minutes of mea culpas. Polite company loses it. I assume people did not enjoy the detached tone the phrase suggests.

The phrase is certainly dismissive and misogynistic. But it has even bothered misogynists and the politically and socially ambivalent. The phrase speaks to a larger fear — the fear of anonymity.

In the end of Louis CK’s show, Horace & Pete, **SPOILER ALERT**, Horace’s son (also named Horace) comes to the bar to visit his father and discovers his father has passed away and the story could have turned this into a moment of triumph or nobility (Horace had died in a relatively noble way, in a sense he died fighting for his family). Louis CK took a different tact with the younger Horace asking about his father. Concerning the elder Horace, Horace’s sister, Sylvia, tells her nephew,

“ Uh You know, he was nothing, really. He was no kind of man.
 He was not, uh particularly funny or smart or kind or You know, he was just… He was just some guy. But he was your father.”

I mean, shit. What a downer.

But why is that so sad? It’s all true. Yes, Humans treat each other like shit but we don’t get profoundly grey about it. Something else is at play here.

Anonymity haunts us.

None of us will ever do anything worthy of memory for eons. None of us will cross the Rubicon. None of us will win a Nobel Prize. None of our names will be uttered decades or centuries after our deaths. We comfort ourselves with the knowledge that at the very least we impacted the lives of our friends and families. That our life had a unique effect on people, even if it was just one person. Nothing is worse then being reminded that maybe I’m just some girl or some guy.