Anonymity and digital culture (or Who are you and what are you doing here?)

There are times we would like to be famous and times we wish we were invisible. Few among us could deny wanting to be a rock star, a ballerina, or an astronaut at some point on our lives (for me, that was yesterday). But there are also times when you don’t want anyone to know who you are. And not just when you are surfing the internet for porn.

One of the many reasons to preserve anonymity, and perhaps the most obvious, is because you are doing things which certain people have determined are not entirely legal. Let’s be clear: We are not talking about kiddie porn or phishing scams here. Crooks and weirdos must be hunted down and culled from the herd (Amen, brother). We live in a world that is connected by wires and electricity, not the wind powered galleons of yesteryear. The only thing that stops me from seeing a show that is broadcast on the other side of the ocean are men in suits arguing about who gets paid. Nobody likes the men in suits (I’m pretty sure they hate themselves, too).

But there are other good reasons why you should mind your own business. Some of the people with the most knowledge are prohibited by law or contract from speaking openly. Whistle-blowers are one of the key resources for revealing waste, fraud and corruption in business and politics. But the protections we grant to these brave souls are insignificant and rapidly disappearing. This pipeline of citizen’s protection will vanish altogether if people of good conscience are not allowed to speak without reprisal.

Others choose to speak on controversial topics. Some of us have interests outside of posting pictures of our pets on the Internet. Many who have spoken out for atheism, gender equality, and even the simple truths of science have received threats to their lives, their bodies, and their families. All because they do not share the same beliefs and dared to say so publicly.

We do not improve the quality of our society by persecuting its most controversial members. Freedom depends on an open forum to share and evaluate ideas. If we cannot protect our poets and philosophers from the tyranny of small minds, then let genius stab at stupidity from the shadows.

Also, don’t forget to delete your browser history. Pervert.

Crazed recluse and sociophobe who has taken up writing after failing at everything else. Send pizza.

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Posted in Blog, I'm Just Saying

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