You will never be completely anonymous


Credit: Jessie Snyder

Riley Knouse

Credit: Jessie Snyder
Writer Riley Knouse believes that one can never truly be anonymous. Credit: Jessie Snyder/The Foothill Dragon Press

Let’s face it, some of you reading this have done something under an anonymous pretense at least once in your life.

Whether you comment on the Foothill Dragon Press or another news site, have reported your neighbors to the police, or have been interviewed but do not feel comfortable giving your name, the main thing that might have given you courage to speak up is posting under the title of ‘Anonymous.’ Anonymity gives us that small boost of bravery to say something that others may not agree with, or say something that we think will make other people dislike us, which are two things that will rank high on almost everybody’s list of fears. There’s no face to place with ‘Anonymous,’ so what’s there to be afraid of?

But have you stopped to consider, am I really anonymous?

Yes, if you ask a reporter to withhold your name, the ethical and professional action that reporter would take is to honor that. Yes, to most people reading the comments on the surface, they will not know who you are, because you can’t possibly narrow down ‘pizzaismylife145’ or any other random name meant to cloak the commenter to a single person. Yes, if you are reporting something to an authority figure (your teacher, the police, etc.) because you had witnessed a wrongdoing, then it is only natural to assume that your name will not be mentioned.

But what happens if that journalist, teacher or officer goes home, and shares your story with their family and friends? They can decide to share who exactly it was that said something incriminating about themselves or someone else. You are no longer completely anonymous. Whoever your story is being told to, if they did not know you before then they know you now.

Of course, you do not know whether this will happen or not. You can only hope that your identity is protected, whether from the media, people you’ve turned in, or someone’s family.

Stepping outside of word of mouth, let’s talk about the internet. Whether you leave a snarky comment on a video on YouTube, a well thought-out argument on a news site, or if you are just trying to be an internet troll, you can still be traced. Even if it be by hiring an internet genius, or catching the troll yourself, it is very possible to find an anonymous commenter.

The only reason I can think of as to why people choose to be internet trolls is because they think it’s funny. The only reason why they hide behind the title of Anonymous is because they’re still ashamed of what they’ve written. A lot of people like to be trolls on the internet, but no one wants to one up to it. If you are being called a troll, you are being insulted. This, however, does not stop people from posting rude or unnecessary comments.

An easier method on the Foothill Dragon Press is by simply receiving an email. Whenever someone comments on one of our articles, we get an email that shows the name of the commenter (real or fake), the email that you put down, and your comment. Basically, even if you post a comment on here under Anonymous, if your real name is in the email, the author will know exactly who you are.

Does that mean that if we do not like your comment, we are going to go up to you and confront you about it? No, probably not. Also, no matter how much we are dying to know just who an anonymous commenter was, we probably will not put too much, if any, effort into finding out who it is.

This isn’t to say that all comments under the name of Anonymous or horrible and harsh. There are plenty of comments that compliment an author or photographer and there are plenty of comments that stick up for the author.

Recently, I’d found out that a friend of mine was one of the few commenters that defended me on my article on Walmart. For almost a year, I had been wondering who that commenter was. I didn’t recognize the email, and the the comment was anonymous. I had thought “If I ever find out, I’m going to thank them, and we shall be friends.” Upon her telling me, to say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. The happiness that I’d felt from that confession had lasted for days, and I still smile when I think about it.

She didn’t need to go under Anonymous, and when I’d asked her why she didn’t use her real name, her reply was “I chose to remain anonymous because I wanted to give my opinion without the potential damage of attaching my name. I didn’t want to get caught into an internet war because I only intended to correct the ignorant comments I saw and then leave.”

The point is, even if the comment was well-intentioned and made the author feel warm and fuzzy inside, there are people who still feel inclined to not comment under their name. Another point is that though the grand majority of you reading this article may not know who she is, I do, and so do the other people who were with us when she told me. Therefore, some of her initial anonymity is lost because she had revealed the truth.

You can never truly be anonymous, and that is a fact we need to face. Either own up to what you are saying, or realize and accept that even if you think you’re anonymous, you’re not.

What do you think?