In a world where being famous for doing nothing is the new norm – yes, I’m talking about you, Kim Kardashian – and fame can occur seemingly overnight, how does a group called Anonymous fit in?
Anonymous, as their name implies, means they don’t want people to know who they are, but rather what they are fighting for. E. Gabriella Coleman, in her article Anonymous: From the Lulz to Collective Action for The New Everyday, talks about the group and how they transformed from internet pranksters consisting of hackers and “geeks” looking for “lulz” (laughs) into a group concerned with more traditional political issues such as human rights and censorship. They used their beginnings as an online group to expand to the point of organizing global days of action whereby online members converged in real, physical space.
If you are part of the Anonymous movement, you are faceless. You don’t strive to be a leader or a celebrity because everyone is essentially equal. If you participate, you do not seek personal attention from the media. To do so would mean being expelled from the group. While that might seem harsh, it is understandable. Taking part in Anonymous is not about making a name for yourself, but bringing voice to issues that need to be heard (for the most part).
That brings me to some questions for you to ponder. If you could shroud yourself in anonymity, would you be willing to publically protest an issue? Does it make it easier if your identity is hidden? If no one knew it was you, what would be important for others to hear that you are too afraid to say out in the open?
That also leads me to my last point. Think about whether or not anonymity on the internet is good or bad. Every day when we make our way through pages online, linking from site to site, reading and commenting, we can, for the most part, remain unknown to other users. Anonymity can be great. It often makes people feel safer and more open about their thoughts. On the other hand, it can be seen as too much of a good thing when people take their anonymity as a warrant for bad behaviour because they believe there will be no consequences for what they do.
So remember this: Just because you are invisible, it doesn’t mean your actions are. Actions are always louder than words. And both, when put out there, cannot be taken back.