The New Online Identity: Anonymous

Douglas Rushkoff: Program or Be Programmed?

Chapter VI. Identity: Be Yourself

Nowadays on the Internet, we have the opportunity to shield our identity and protect it from the digital world. We do so by taking on a new identity, Anonymous. This prevents others from knowing who the original author is of whatever has been posted by anonymous. However, being anonymous online has actually been detrimental to us.

“But more than simply protecting them from retribution, the anonymous status of people in an online group engenders crowd behavior. They have nothing to fear as individuals, and get used to taking actions from a distance and from secrecy. As a result, they exacerbate digital technology’s most dehumanizing tendencies, and end up behaving angrily, destructively, and automatically. They go from being people to being a mob.”

Being anonymous allows us to have much more courage in saying/posting negative and hurtful things on the Internet. Douglas Rushkoff emphasizes the fact that we should be ourselves on the Internet and use our own identities. This will avoid the hostility we see on the Internet today. By using our own identities, we will be discouraged from using hurtful language because of the many consequences that may follow.

“The less we take responsibilities for what we say and do online, the more likely we are to behave in ways that reflect our worst natures — or even the worst natures of others”

This idea of our words online “reflecting our worst natures” reminded me of an event that occurred. Recently, Iggy Azalea decided to delete her Twitter account due to the hate she was receiving [click here for article]. Although Twitter is not entirely anonymous, some people use accounts that do hide their identity (for example, using usernames unrelated to your identity) which relates to this idea of anonymity. Iggy Azalea felt victimized by thousands of people and said that the Internet brings the worst of ourselves; exactly what Douglas Rushkoff states in his book.

Although having the option to be anonymous online at first seemed like a good thing, we ended up abusing that option.

Iggy Azalea’s tweet about leaving Twitter.
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