Post Classifieds

The human code: Communication should not be anonymous

By Annie Goodman
On August 29, 2017

My first encounter with Sarahah was on Snapchat where I was confused about why people would ask for an anonymous message, only to then post it asking who said what. After seeing this become a trend, I messaged one of my friends participating in this to inquire if asking who said it defeated the purpose. She said no because they do not have to identify themselves. Later, a different friend held a public conversation via their Snapchat story where the individuals who wished to remain anonymous were being pressed to identify themselves. I then began to wonder why people would leave an anonymous message when there was a high probability of being sought out. Therefore, I decided to perform a social experiment of sorts. 

Disclaimer: yes, I am aware this was not a well-conducted experiment and is in no ways scientific. However, it was just for my own curiosity.

I made a Sarahah account and posted to Snapchat asking people to send me a message about what they truly thought of me with a guarantee that I would not post responses. The following day, I implemented a second part to the experiment asking people to explain why they did or did not leave an anonymous comment. The next day, I posted the final portion challenging people to identify themselves.

My results? I must say, I am extremely disappointed in the complete lack of negative comments. I am aware that my personality can be quite disagreeable at times, yet nobody chose to express this. Anyways, I received a variety of responses ranging from apologies to confessions to regrets. The majority of them were not serious comments, and the number of responses was low for my number of friends on Snapchat. Also, none of the serious commenters revealed themselves.

My conclusions? Based on almost no one participating when guaranteed not to be posted and those that did were not serious, I think the majority of people comment anonymously in hopes of being identified. This makes no sense. Of course, I understand plenty of people are wanting a way to secretly express their true thoughts. This does not make sense either. A concern with this app is cyberbullying. This makes sense.

If you have something malicious to say, why remain anonymous? So you can protect yourself from guilt and repercussions. This is wrong. If you have something “constructive” to say, as the app puts it, why would you want to remain secret? So you can protect your own pride. This is wrong. As most people should know, saying hurtful things is not OK. Do not do it. I am not going to focus much on this because, while it is important, it is not the point I want to make. What many people seem to be unaware of is you should not let your pride interfere with being true to yourself.

What makes humans so special compared to other animals is our ability to communicate like no other. Yes, plenty of species communicate to navigate, threaten, mate, etc. However, humans use it for everything. Through reading, writing, speaking, drawing, dancing, singing and so much more, we try to convey to other humans who we are and what we think. We form cliques and factions when we communicate well with one another. These groups then go on to expand themselves and make changes based on their communication of what is important. 

The concept of anonymity is nothing new. However, with technology, it can be dangerous. Choosing to express yourself through such secretive ways will cause you to lose sight of who you truly are. You cannot let the fear of being judged stop you or dictate your actions in any way. If you like someone, tell them. Even if the feelings are not reciprocated, you may have just made his or her day. If you have an issue with someone, tell them. That is the only way to sort it out, and you will receive more respect for doing so. If you have something to be sorry for, apologize. Then both of you can find closure. If you have a regret, that is probably because you did not communicate effectively when you had the chance.

I cannot stress how important communication is. You are only responsible for what you understand. Communication is what allows us to help others understand. Without communication, there can be no understanding, yet people are communicating less as time goes on. If you can type it anonymously, you have figured out how to express yourself. Now do it. Our time on Earth is short. Do not let pride and fear restrict you. Express your true thoughts and feelings as soon as you know what they are. Yes, it is scary at first. You will feel better once you do though. 

One last note, if people message you on Sarahah or whatever anonymous forum, do not post it publicly. Those comments should be for you and no one else. They are not trophies to be displayed. Accept them for yourself, and hopefully, the author will reveal him or herself one day.

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