On Anonymity And Exposing Yourself
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On Anonymity And Exposing Yourself

Social media, pseudonyms and group mentality

On Anonymity And Exposing Yourself
Pixabay licence

I am a very private person, possibly due to personality traits such as being introverted and shy, to the way I was raised and educated. I haven't posted anything on Instagram for the past year, only use snapchat to talk to my close friends and don't like texting in large group chats. Writing for the Odyssey is probably the way in which I most expose myself online, and that's even considering the fact that I don't advertise my articles through my social media.

I have always liked writing though, and appreciate how the Odyssey helps me be more disciplined with it, as I have to write 500 words about something every two weeks. Recently though, I have been having trouble coming up with topics, and at times I write a whole article only to decide at the end of it that I don't want that posted online. Although it now seems obvious, it took me a while to realize that it was because I didn't want to expose myself too much online, and its not like this page is read by many people. However, I don't feel particularly motivated to write if my work isn't read by anyone, which sounds paradoxical even to me.

These thoughts made me start reflecting on anonymity. I think that if I wrote anonymously under a pseudonym, I wouldn't have a problem with people reading the more personal things that I write, so long as the content wasn't associated with me. And isn't this bizarre? To want your work read, but not associated with you? To want your work recognized, but to not want any credit for it? I had always thought pseudonyms were stupid, until I started thinking about creating one for myself.

Anyway, regardless of my personal thoughts on the matter, I began to reflect on anonymity as a whole. I remember a psychology lecture from my freshmen year, in which my professor talked about the power of the group. I have written previously about the human tendency to divide ourselves into groups, but what I want to discuss now is the anonymity that comes with being part of a group. If your whole group of friends decides that they are going to apply to the business school, even if you aren't interested in business at all you will consider applying too, even if for just a second.

If your whole English class decides they are going to write about a novel for the final assignment, you might consider writing about a novel as well even if you prefer poetry. And so on. By being part of a group, you assume a part of that group's identity, which gives you a sort of anonymity. A personal decision becomes a group decision, and the group answers to the consequences, not just you. Groups are alluring because their formation is part of the nature of all social species, humans being just one example in the animal kingdom.

I want to argue that the allure of being part of a group goes further than it is human nature as a social species, but also caused by the anonymity aspect. This anonymity aspect, in turn, seems to be alluring, in my view, because of the shared responsibility. Could this be the allure of anonymity then? To be able to act, but not deal with the outcomes of your actions?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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