Friday, May 15, 2009

The Audacity of Anonymity, Part 2

I composed an earlier blog entitled The Audacity of Anonymity and have become somewhat obsessed with the thought. Conducting some research, I found a research article entitled "Effects of Anonymity and Arousal on Aggression," which had been published in The Journal of Psychology and was written by R. W. Rogers & C. M. Ketchen. In the article, the authors cite another researcher named Zimbardo who stated, "If others can't identify or single you out, they can't evaluate, criticize, judge, or punish you." The authors went on to say, "...anonymity may make aggression a more dominant response tendency because in our culture anonymity reduces the anticipated risk of detection and the ensuing social censure and/or punishment."

In other words, being anonymous promotes feelings of imperviousness (for lack of a better word). Then, as one feels he can do whatever he chooses without repercussions or consequences, he is, therefore, encouraged to exhibit more aggressive behavior. A state of anonymity inhibits civility, causes us to resort to our baser instincts, makes us less compassionate and more egocentric.

Just today (May 15, 2009) Bob Kravitz, a sports writer for the Indianapolis Star, addressed this very topic, and I have to say that I agree with Mr. Kravitz. Kravitz uses classic jock talk to suggest that anonymity is turning us into a culture of weenies. Note, he does not condemn blogs or email or twitter or text messaging. He does, however, condemn the rude behavior that the anonymity of such technologically interactive programs promote. He states very well that "We hide behind technology that provides us with pseudonyms and takes accountability out of the equation." And that is what I'm talking about. If we are so bold as to say something, then let us be bold enough to accept the consequences of our words and our deeds. Otherwise, shut up!

I'm not finished with this topic.


  1. I have a great example--Apparently there is a website ( which allows people to send emails from an anonymous address. A couple of weeks ago, I received a couple emails from this site--from a student at the school--which turned out to be purely personal attacks. After momentarily becoming upset, I remembered this topic and deleted the messages and blocked further emails from this address.

  2. Great example. The worst part is that someone thought it was a good idea to create a web site that promote anonymous attacks. I have a basic rule: If it is anonymous, I delete it without reading it. I don't even open emails when I don't recognize the sender.

  3. Being the devil's advocate around here...teachers can't vent, disagree, and question safely. They will either be fired or wish they were fired. Unlike the business world, they can't move to another school because of their years of service. Most leaders are unfortunately not mature enough and skilled enough to handle dissent, criticism, or suggestions. When leaders rise to that level, maybe teachers won't need to remain anonymous.