To be completely anonymous is a powerful thing. People choose to act differently than they normally would if they have the cover of anonymity. Some people act more mean and brash and pick on others. Some people act less shy than they normally would. The anonymity of the Internet brings out all different sides of people you thought you knew.
In real life, I’m a terribly shy person. I come across as rather standoffish. On the Internet I feel a lot less shy, probably because, even though I use my real name on websites, it is still fairly anonymous. Nobody I know on the Internet is going to come to my house or see me in real life, unless we choose for it to happen.
When parents stumble across their kids’ Facebook pages, they’re often shocked by the different side of their child that they’re seeing. It’s one thing to feel as though you have an innocent and even somewhat naive daughter, yet it’s an entirely different thing to see her posting rants about sex and drugs online. That begs the question… which side is true? Which side is the true personality of that person?
We all put on different faces in different situations, whether that’s the anonymity of the Internet or with our friends or at the doctor’s office. There is nobody who knows everything about us and all our different sides – except a higher power, if you happen to believe in one.
Basically, if you’re shocked by what someone says online and it seems entirely different from what they’d say in person, that doesn’t mean that that person has changed and become different. It’s just a different side of them – a side that has been born from anonymity. Use an anonymous status carefully. I know I’ve said it before on this blog, but it bears repeating: Don’t say anything (whether anonymous or using your real name) that you would regret later on.