2010/10/22 – The Cult of Anonymous Individuality

There is an insidious and dangerous cult operating in chatrooms and message boards on the internet today. You can see them on You Tube, MySpace or your favorite online forum. They are disciples and adherents to the Cult of Anonymous Individuality.

This cult operates in secrecy, promoting the notion that Individuality is the most important facet of a human being. Self-consciousness is contained within the individual, moving the person about while seeing everything else in his world as a separate Other. The Individual stands alone, granted Free Will and intellect, moving according to one’s own nature. To these Cult members, Individuality is also precious through its association with the “rational” mind. Thinking is the best thing an Individualist can do, and a good Individualist is always thinking.

What do these Individualists think of? All kinds of things. Mostly about how great Individualism is, and how great it is to have such a wonderful mind to think great thoughts. There are all kinds of things inside a person’s mind. That’s what makes having one so wonderful.

But there’s a problem for the Anonymous Individualist, at least on the net. Their Individuality is much too sacred a right to be used on the Internet. So they came up with the perfect solution. Individuality is so much better when it is anonymous!

Why? Because in Anonymity is Strength. Anonymity creates the Courage to say anything one normally wouldn’t say out loud from behind a wall of secrecy.

Some make the claim that the Constitution allows anonymity to fall under Free Speech protection. But Free Speech has limits. That’s why slander and libel exists. While some pursue anonymity surfing the web using proxy servers, other are using anonymous individualism to spout their venomous, mean-spirited bile against others. Of course they would never say such things to another’s face. The aggressive, poisonous and mentally unhinged spew their crap without the benefit of consequences.

I post under my name. In the past I have used nicknames in the past because I saw most everyone else do it. After awhile I knew that nobody would ever try to track me down using a fake name to launch verbal bombs at my online-enemies. This kind of thinking is common among those who think anonymity on the net is vital to “liberty” and individualism. I tend to see it as cowardice, deception and possibly a danger to the more mentally unstable in terms of forming multiple personalities.

But the question to ask is whether anonymity is a hindrance or an help to the notion of the Individual? It seems to me that anonymity erases the meaning of individuality, for there is nothing but a false name standing for the individual. The purpose of anonymity is to erase the individual of authenticity. Misleading and deceptive activities on the internet are initiated by those posing as others. Who is more likely to be a criminal on the Internet? A person using her real name, or someone from Liberia posing as a Banker from Sweden? Have you or known someone to be a victim of identity theft?

I’m not saying there needs to be less anonymity on the Internet. There isn’t much of that to be found, anyway. [1] And it’s not my call, anyway. But Google CEO Eric Schmidt says the future of the Internet is “true transparency and no anonymity.”[2] Schmidt went on to say that:

“If I look at enough of your messaging and your location, and use artificial intelligence, we can predict where you are going to go,”

“In a world of asynchronous threats,” said Schmidt, “it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it.”

So there you have it. Of this eventuality, the proponents of fake-named anonymity will be heartbroken of course. But, hey, it’s global capitalism that’s to blame, destroying democracy and human rights across the board.

But things are getting interesting. A woman being harassed by an anonymous cyberbully, who posted clips of her on You Tube and then made disparaging remarks about her is in hot water after a judge ordered Google to turn over the identification and contact information of those who were involved.[3]  Given Schmidt’s opinion on Internet transparency and the fact that Google owns You Tube, how eager do you think Google will turn that information over?

Answer: Very eager.

The era of the Cult of Anonymous Individuality and its legacy of escaping consequences of shadowy flaming and deceitfulness is about to close, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.

——————————————————————————————-

[1] “Internet Activity  is Tracked More than We Realize”

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2004271898_internet.html

[2]No Anonymity on the Future Web, Says Google CEO

http://www.thinq.co.uk/2010/8/5/no-anonymity-future-web-says-google-ceo/

[3] Google Ordered to Name Anonymous Online Bullies

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/google-ordered-online-bullies-anonymously-bullied-woman-youtube/story?id=11947003

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