The Case for Anonymity in the Age of Social Media

The Case for Anonymity in the Age of Social Media

I don’t have a personal Facebook-account.

I don’t have a personal Twitter-account.

I don’t have a Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat <insert social media platform here> account.

Instead I have a strong belief in the value of privacy. In this I’m among a small crowd in today’s society. Most people and an overwhelming majority of young people have a ton of social media presence. They share intimate details about their lives online, including pictures which may be viewed by complete strangers. I enjoy taking frequent leisurely strolls about the area where I live. I’m often puzzled by the fact that a lot of people have “big-ass” windows. Turning my head to the side I can see inside bedrooms, families eating dinner, people hanging out in their living rooms and backyards. Perhaps it is architecturally fashionable to have a lot of glass incorporated in your home.

I’m completely 180 degrees different. I’m very aware of what people can see looking in through my windows. I cover them up most of the time. If I wake up in the middle of the night (or the middle of the day for that matter) I want the ability to go take a leak without worrying about the neighbor looking in and seeing me in a state of undress. Why people don’t value the privacy of their children more boggles my mind, or the privacy of themselves during intimate moments. We are collectively outraged when we hear about surveillance scandals like those exposed by Edward Snowden, but we don’t live our lives consistently with that outrage. What is the point of anger directed towards the government when they spy on you if you live your life like an open book? I personally strongly oppose government surveillance and I live consistently with that belief by avoiding having and using personal social media accounts. Of course, I’m not denying the usefulness of social media for serious applications. Professionally it can certainly be useful to show your portfolio to prospective employers or clients. Promoting your business is greatly helped along by plugging it online.

Fundamentally, what I’m criticizing is the carelessness people exhibit. The lack of distinction between what belongs in the public domain and what should remain behind closed doors in particular. The worst offense is against children. They can’t consent to having their pictures plastered all over the net. Do parents fundamentally have that right? Politically, I don’t show my true colors in public. I prefer having a public side of myself shown to others at work and a private side where I can be myself. In the politically polarized world of today this is more important than ever. It would be tremendously detrimental to the quality of public debate if the ability to share your opinion became lost. Sadly, this has already started to happen. Many Norwegian newspapers demand that you use your full real name in comment sections in order to combat trolls. I’m disheartened by this troubling development. Voices outside the mainstream are lost and pushed outside of the respectable arenas. Through public dialogue ideas are challenged and opposing viewpoints presented. If this is lost society is all the poorer for it.

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