Anonymity Is (Not) The New Fame

Make a sign that reads, there’s nothin here to see
And fill the void with a hole, a whole bunch of vacancy

Cuz haven’t you heard that anonymity is the new fame, uh-huh
And didn’t you know ohh woah we’re on the losing end of the winning game

~Frankel: Anonymity Is The New Fame

The basic premise of social media is ‘to connect’. It’s a method that provides people, (strangers, friends and foe alike), to share and connect; it’s a linkage possible despite miles and memories. It’s a place to happily bask in the joyful moments of others. Likewise we are afforded the opportunity to lament and sympathize when life goes array for ‘our people’.

For many of us, social media is also a method of blatant expression. It allows untapped vulnerability to be on display. It gives us the voice of authentic expression. But as I read recently, ‘authenticity on the web is a slippery idea’. Authenticity is often married with personally embarrassing moments or ideas perhaps best held tight.

There is a second set of people that we all have in our network; those that seem to struggle with the idea of earnestness. Their shared posts are superficial, impersonal and self-promotional. Sometimes we watch and more often we choose to turn away.

And certainly there are those that fall in varying stages of the middle. Not quite all in, but entertainingly not mundane.

The final category, (as my little brain sees it), contains the lurkers, the stalkers, and those that think anonymity is a right; that anonymity is equated to privacy. Those that feel there is safety in their blinder-commentary, their fake user names, and their unsigned rants.

Last summer Arianna Huffington stopped allowing the trolls to post anonymously to the Huffington Post. “Trolls are just getting more and more aggressive and uglier,“ she said. “I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and [are] not hiding behind anonymity. We need to evolve a platform to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet.”

So, grown-ups…if one has an opinion that they want to be heard, should they then be required to disclose themselves? What value is there in half-a-voice? A less-than identity?

Own your identity. Own your voice; lose the vacancy. Say a little cheer inside your head the next time you feel anonymous: “Be authentic. Be, be authentic.” And if the cartwheels and clapping help you be brave? Then have at it sista.

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