#0059 | anonymity

Submitted by Anonymous in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Here’s Anonymous’ story:

“What is it about the internet that makes people such jerks?

I work for a tech company and spend most of my workdays strapped to the internet, so when I have downtime I like to check out my favorite blogs and read new posts on a couple forums I belong to.  Some of the people who comment on these boards are friends of mine in real life and it is amazing how–safely cloaked by the impenetrable mask of the internet–they assume arrogant, belligerent personalities they would never adopt in reality.

It is all such a charade, one undoubtedly perpetuated by web surfers across the country, all of whom are donning thinly veiled disguises so they can beat up on each other without remorse.”

54 folks have left comments on this post

» Josh said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 10:10:29 }

The question is which is the real charade – their real life persona or their online angry and judgmental persona? It’s a bit frightening to think about when you filter through the comments on most websites or worse, when you’re the one under attack for an article, a film or even just another comment of your own.

» Harrison said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 11:10:17 }

The headline says it ALL. The Internet is a double edged sword. It’s great because the mainstream media is just a corporate propaganda machine that promotes the dimmest forms of news and entertainment. So the Internet is the best source for news. It is also a great source for intelligent exchange. But then there’s the unintelligent exchange. It is too often a forum or vehicle for idiotic comments written by people who are immature, uninformed, mean-spirited, overly aggressive, racist, narrow-minded and rude. I have seen comments about filmmaking written by individuals who do not have a clue of how a film is written or made. I have seen comments by people who make lewd and immature sexual remarks about attractive girls without any provocation. I have read comments that fly in the face of research-based science, history, psychology and politics. It’s as if all the trolls and moles have stepped out of their damp cells, grabbed a computer and retreated once again, but now armed with a voice to the outside world coming from their anonymous personas.

» Roy said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 12:10:13 }

I’m so glad someone mentioned this, because it’s high time someone called for more politeness on the interweb. Being online is fun because you can be anyone you want to, which means that you can be as rude or as nice as you want, and there are almost no repercussions. As long as you remember to not take anything personally on the net then you should be fine. Always keep a thick skin.

Although I hasten to add that as soon as I realised what assholes people became on the net, I made a conscious effort to be nice to people while online.

» Tomboys said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 06:10:14 }

We did a sketch about this a few months back. I used it as my website link in case anyone want to see it. The sketch is called “Anonymous Ass” and it hits head on what you are talking about. It is a weird phenomenon.

» rich said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 08:10:05 }

i believe you are looking for John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F***wad Theory, from Penny Arcade.


» nobodyyouknow said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 08:10:32 }


…oh god…what have I become…*quietly weeps*

» fghjk said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 08:10:03 }

goto ebaumsworld every one there that leaves comments are a bunch of @#$%^$#@#$@##@!!@!@@

» Matt G said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 08:10:10 }

I think anonymity makes people feel more free to be honest. I think we ought to appreciate it for what it is instead of getting all offended like women.

» Lubedkoala said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:21 }

This topic has come up before, but for a different scenario. It would be cool to compare/contrast the two situations. The other scenario evaluates how people behave when driving, specifically road rage. Again, your watching the human species interact when they are exposed to the public mass. You’ll see an entirely different side in some people that get easily aggitated by other “dumb” drivers. You can sit there in the passanger seat and observe the human species acting in rage, the same person that is your friend and never gets mad at anyone on foot. Makes you wonder why people tend to let their patience drop and easily get enraged by something as simple as driving with others. Anytime you expose a person to the public mass, they will act differently, though some of us can control it and be normal. I guess that part of the brain that characterizes us is different. It’s only natural. Otherwise, we will get mad at everyone being so friendly to each other if we were all wired the same. It’s like defining the word entropy with the word life. Again, it’s only natural.

» douchebagfucktard said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:44 }

this is the most flaming piece of shit i’ve ever read.

» Erin said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:57 }

I work in a call center and we get death threats for the pettiest things…literally, death threats….I don’t know how many times I’ve been called a cuntface before. It used to be that you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat their waitress or waiter. Now it’s all about how you treat other people from the comfort of your own home – whether you’re talking to the person on the phone who’s managing your bank account, or commenting on someone’s blog anonymously….that’s where you’ll show your true colors.

» eddie said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:39 }

Its a form of release I think, you can be really sincere, but then some jerk goes and put you down with some stupid goddamn reason, so you go to the dark side and you play ball.

» joe said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:18 }

this arther is a gay


» Megado said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:54 }

If you were immune to the law, how would you act?
Most people do not act this way because there are REPERCUSSIONS in real life. Most people are monsters and if were given the chance to rape and murder without any consequences, do you think they’ll still be um… nice? How about that crush you had, or that hot girl down the street? Or the jerk who gave you a hard time? Would you think twice? Very, very few people are truly truly good inside. We are doomed. See you in hell.

» Ken said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:32 }

They do it for the lulz.

» anonymous said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:43 }


» joe doe said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:45 }

Nice article.

» Big Boy said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:18 }

eddie – you’re a f***ing idiot.

» Nick said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:05 }


Well, someone had to say it.

» someone who read this said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:07 }

Aren’t you adopting the same personality type by posting this as an anonymous message?

» shame said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:23 }

now that’s a worthy article

» Jim said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:51 }

Here’s the thing, everyone. The internet is stupid and goofy. It is also fun and useful, but it is primarily ridiculous. If you take the internet seriously, then you too are stupid. Trolling is the art of pissing people off on the internet because it’s funny. When people take utterly trivial things far too seriously, it is hilarious. For example, fanfiction writers, Star Wars geeks, Harry Potter nerds, and video game addicts. People actually get mad about other folks’ preference of COMPUTER OPERATING SYSTEM. And that’s stupid and funny, so you piss those people off with a quick “Windows/OSX/Linux sucks” and watch them froth at the mouth over something that does not matter in the slightest. Just laugh about it. If you find yourself starting to care about what someone on the internet says about your videos, comments, or whatever else, you need to go outside and reevaluate your life.

» Mr Funk said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:47 }

Hey, I’m a dick* in real life too, agnabbit!

*Outspoken and willing to argue to defend my beliefs

» Billy Fake Job said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 09:10:21 }

Its a soundstage on Mars!

» sveta said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 10:10:43 }

it’s sad when people are proud of being a “dick”. really really sad.

» Nick said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 10:10:48 }

From Matt G above: “getting all offended like women”….sigh

» Jimbo said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 10:10:13 }

There should be some serious research done to address this problem. It seems to me that it’s akin to how people act while driving. I myself get irrationally pissed off at motorists I consider too slow, too fast, or just “in my way”. Ditto online. I can’t recall how many times I’ve watched a video on YouTube, gotten halfway through ripping it to shreds, and realized what I was doing. “This is the internet, for goodness’ sake! It’s supposed to be full of inanity. Don’t add to it.” I click the discard button, and go about my business, conscience clean. If only more people would be like me, I am such a paragon of awesomeness.

» Bling Bling said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 10:10:51 }

This blob was totally photoshopped.

» adamssl said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 10:10:53 }

meh, this keeps coming up, and everyone points to “anonymity” as the culprit. I think that’s a total misconception. The reality is that you’re seeing everyone’s true thoughts, that normally are filtered.

Think of it this way… we all have a “common-sense” filter that tells you when to shut-up, or say something in a nicer way. When you’re on the net, it’s just YOU, alone. So the filter is turned off.

So when a scrawny kids mouths off to a 250lb meat-head, it’s NO different than what would have been inside that kids head if they were sitting face-to-face. The only difference is he wouldn’t have vocalized it.

So what THAT means is that when that kid gets up and walks away from his PC, he’s no different than if he’d never used the computer. The only difference is now we know what’s inside that kids head.

And that’s the reason why we should be GLAD to have this exposure on the net. If you say something in the real world, everyone around you may be “polite”, filter their comments and not give you any real reaction. On the net, not only do they not filter their comments, you get the full stream of conscious.

Powerful stuff.

» You-really-expect-my-real-name? said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 10:10:35 }

Megado had the best comment out of all of them. For convenience, I will quote it:
“If you were immune to the law, how would you act?
Most people do not act this way because there are REPERCUSSIONS in real life. Most people are monsters and if were given the chance to rape and murder without any consequences, do you think they’ll still be um… nice? How about that crush you had, or that hot girl down the street? Or the jerk who gave you a hard time? Would you think twice? Very, very few people are truly truly good inside. We are doomed. See you in hell.”

Megado is correct that most folks restrain themselves because of potential consequences. People are “monsters” because of a thing called “original sin” which does result in an existence in hell. I disagree that we are doomed because of this, however. There is a remedy. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and paid the penalty for sin. Putting a SINCERE faith in Him will result in a gradual change of your heart and character. Note the word “sincere”.

» Joe said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 10:10:51 }

what exactly do we stand to gain from the inane “full stream of consciousness”. constructive criticism is one thing. enthusiasm over learning to spell swear words is another.

» adamssl-fan said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 11:10:50 }

my unfiltered opinion: adamssl is a genius

» poopnug said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 11:10:16 }

the internet has made me into this

» some body said: { Oct 11, 2007 - 11:10:42 }

i totally agree with adamssl

» Psyberian said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 12:10:26 }

This Wikipedia page explains the root of the problem: “The Dunning-Kruger effect is the phenomenon wherein people who have little knowledge think that they know more than others who have much more knowledge.”

If you dismiss me without understanding me, I will be less receptive, and possibly hostile.

It snowballs from there…

» Javlington said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 04:10:23 }


» Matt said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 05:10:13 }

Or maybe it’s the other way around. People are really like they are on the net, and “act” within society’s “norms” in real life.

» Sensibility said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 08:10:23 }

People are just bored…. really really bored. Where jerks are concerned you often get their first reaction, however stupid it is. lastly, they are bitter… most likely because life rejected them.

» M said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 08:10:55 }

I also think because of the scope and accessibility of the internet, you have access to a greater percentage of the assholes out there than you would otherwise come into contact with. And everybody gets worked up so quickly when someone disagrees with them (especially about politics/religion). Just read their comments, shake your head if you think they are an idiot, and move on. ‘Cause they are probably not the only person who feels that way, and you will not erradicate their line of thinking by leaving a comment that calls them an idiot, or threatens violence. *sigh*

» Moobly said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 09:10:34 }

See penny-arcade’s comic “John Gabriel’s Theory of Internet Anonyminity.”

» AnonGuy said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 09:10:15 }

You are seeing people’s true selves. It doesn’t just come from the lower dredges of society – this is human behavior from the highest echelon to the lowest. It spans all corners of the globe. It infects every woman, man, child… One can not and must not differentiate.

That’s why we have laws – because most people are really self-serving pieces of shit who will sell you out for a buck. You need to force them to behave – even the enforcers need to be forced to behave. Some people understand this, which is a good start. The rest never will.

» anon said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 10:10:13 }

At some point in the future there will be social networks where you will be REQUIRED to positively identify yourself (ie: biometric scan) and use your real name / likeness. If every single one of us had our REAL email address, photograph, and name attached to our posts we’d be a lot more civil. If you couldn’t hide behind an androgynous username and avatar you’d act very differently. That’s why people don’t call up and act this way to the pizza delivery guy. He knows where you live and wouldn’t hesitate to spit on your food if you treated him badly.

» blip said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 10:10:11 }

It’s not “seeing people’s true selves.” It’s a behavior which the person feels is appropriate. We don’t behave the same way in every circumstance. You don’t talk to your mother as you would to your 10 year old cousin as you would to your high school teacher. People learn how to behave this way from eachother.

To say that it’s ridiculous to become angry at a response on the internet is foolish because that implies that you should only feel apathy online. Which is arguably impossible because that implies that you should never care about anything.

Don’t stop at what seems to be an easy answer. Dig a little deeper. Think it through.

» blip said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 11:10:35 }

Here’s a new haiku for you:

“Serious business”
Can’t fill that empty soul, dude.
Go play outside. Care.

» Drop said: { Oct 12, 2007 - 11:10:01 }

haha. blip – that was nice. =)

» Chris said: { Oct 13, 2007 - 11:10:01 }

I admit it, im an ultra nice person in real life. But yeah I am pretty much a deuche bag on the internet. Youtube brings out my inner pissed off child that doesn’t like to share his toys.

» deusdiabolus said: { Oct 15, 2007 - 02:10:12 }

I just had a thought…do you suppose that people’s tendencies to be jerks when they’re posting as anonymous is directly proportional to their tendencies to be jerks when they’re drunk?

» The Anonymous said: { Oct 15, 2007 - 07:10:53 }

AnonGuy: Not all people are self-serving shit.

I’ve come across a precious few who aren’t. They’re rare, but they’re out there. And usually they’re suicidally depressed.

» wtf said: { Oct 16, 2007 - 10:10:12 }

lol @ Matt G
So right. Most ppl are assholes in real life but they suppress theirselves… i love sincere bastards on real life :) i hate phony successful idiots

» rusty said: { Sep 17, 2008 - 10:09:30 }

I’m pretty nice on the day to day, but when my thoughts are put on the screen, it becomes a whole different thing. So, maybe I am an absolute douchebag or maybe I can just express my anger and cuntiness better in words, hummmm, you decide.

» semvinoionips said: { Nov 1, 2008 - 02:11:45 }

Heh.. Sometimes I can’t help but give free reign to my magenta creation Wanna joke?) What do cats like on a hot day? A mice cream cone.

» SadDay said: { Jan 10, 2009 - 08:01:10 }

So I read a lot of these replies and it really kinda sucks to admit but they’re probably right. People suck and it’s probably fake behavior both on the net and in real life. For example, me as myself, I act like a 5 year old and annoy the hell out of people, but I love my friends much more than they would ever know. Do you think I show this side of me much? Nope, it’s too easy to get hurt and I drive a lot of people away. And on the net, you’ve got the freedom to be yourself… If you’re a strong person, but most seem to just use it as a way to make themselves feel strong. They curse and treat people like dirt for the same reason the school bully does… They’re insecure and they want attention and that behavior get’s them that attention and often a few laughs too. Granted, they’ll never admit it. I mean, would you? But hey, no self discipline and selfish behavior is all our society teaches.

» Psy said: { Jan 11, 2009 - 02:01:16 }

>>>>>But hey, no self discipline and selfish behavior is all our society teaches.

…and here I thought that parents were supposed to be the teachers…silly me…