How can I be anonymous on the Internet?
About a year ago, my husband wrote an essay about how the Internet is dividing people. It’s no secret that many opinionated commenters or inquirers are so quick to judge because the volume of their statements or questions will never reach them full circle. One of the beauties and downfalls of the World Wide Web is that we can all say whatever we want, whenever we want, and never be held accountable for it.
With the advent of Facebook requiring users to sign up for an account with their real name, close to one billion people are no longer nameless in social media. But the invasion of less masking doesn’t stop there. Various websites including news sites, social sites, and even leisure sites are using “Facebook Comments” at the end of their articles or photos. The tally is about fifty-thousand websites are utilizing this new technique. This means the comments made by those using Facebook are tagged with their very real names.
As a writer, I’m no stranger to having my name on the Internet for the world to see. This development doesn’t bother me. In fact, I’d rather have my name visible when I make comments or ask questions. Recently, I received a very bad review on a novelette I published. Many others who had read the short story found the reviewer’s comments unfounded and rather strange. However, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I left it at that.
But friends and other aspiring writers fought for me. They claimed the reviewer was hiding behind anonymity and those who make comments and post reviews online only write hateful things because those things won’t come back to haunt them. The Internet is a place where anyone can say anything they want and pretend to be an expert on the subject. However, the reviewer used their first name, and was not as anonymous as they originally alleged.
It seems as though times are indeed changing. Although Facebook is using techniques to decrease the amount of anonymity among the masses, it doesn’t seem to change the issue of individuals making spontaneous judgments and starting arguments with each other.
I never responded to the review I received because it didn’t make sense for me to do so. Also, I had no idea what kind of person the review was. If I were to respond, would they lash out at me? Would they accept my apology that they didn’t enjoy my book and offer to read my other work? Or would they ignore me completely?
Either way, it is my humble opinion that Facebook is heading in the right direction. I do believe that some amount of information shared or questions asked on the Internet should remain anonymous at the discretion of the individual posting said information. But with simple moderation, the Internet can become less of a child’s playground and more of an information highway as it was originally meant.
Amy Croall is the author of A Cure for the Condition and Healer .