Lack of Anonymity in the Digital Age

For a second, close your eyes and imagine this scenario. You are walking into a room full of strangers. You don’t know anyone in this room and, in turn, no one in the room knows you. What you are experiencing as you walk into that room is called anonymity. Anonymity is Greek for ‘no name’ and allows us to try new things or express ideas without being judged, simply because we are hiding our true identity from the world. Don’t get this concept wrong, you are not trying to deceive anybody. Instead, you are going by the name of Anonymous, and people know that it is not your true identity. But anonymity is fast disappearing owing to the advent of the digital age.

anonTalking about online anonymity is like trying to see the world as either black or white, without any shades of grey in it. Today only a hermit could be termed as a totally private person and even then it is not necessary that he or she would be anonymous. For all we know, he or she could be a famous and influential hermit!

Your concern should not be whether or not you are anonymous online. Your concern should be focused on the level of control that you have over your own anonymity. Who you are is defined by the perception of those around you, people who directly or indirectly seek to influence your every word and action. On the internet, you seem to have a black and white stance on things; there is an all or nothing level of control on your privacy and, thus, your anonymity. You cede control of who you are to too many large corporations like Facebook and Google. You trust them to share who you are in a way that you are happy with.

You post your countless pictures, or the selfies as you may call them, with your geotagged locations; you make all your future plans inherently public. You engage in horrible insults knowing full well that the target of your harassment is just one click away from your real name and address. What you forget to realize that it is you who is making his personal information public on your volition.

anon2One could even argue that it’s even detrimental not to divulge at least some information online. But it is privacy fatigue that you have become so dependent on social media which is giving you a lazy attitude toward staying anonymous. Today each of us leaves breadcrumbs that an investigator can very easily use to follow back to us.

Any effort to completely anonymize your activities will be more or less futile but you still can take note of some tips. Keep your devices and accounts password-protected, making a new password for every different account. Get used to blocking and do not feed the trolls. Make good use of your common sense and don’t try to dwell and engage in any provocative material online. If you are going to troll, be constructive instead of being negative. And if you are thinking about responding to a troll, don’t.

Image Courtesy: GOOGLE