social media

xi. veil of anonymity

Harriet the Spy was one of my favorite movies growing up; very awesome cinematography, I wanted to be a spy, and it was a great soundtrack. The primary conflict in that film was when her secret journal was discovered and everyone found her hidden thoughts. The message of the movie was to never say anything nasty about anyone, even if it’s in your private journal, because if they find out, they will have hurt feelings. I remember watching that movie and thinking that was bullshit; if you are speaking your fleeting feelings, that are just snapshots of things that you feel the need to vent about, why should someone hold you accountable? Why should someone reprimand and punish you for you saying something that you thought was a private space? No matter how much you love people, there will be moments that you cannot stand them, and you will feel and possibly say something that would hurt them if they heard about it. Is it fair for your loved ones to hear a snippet of your less-than-pleasant thoughts and feel slighted and betrayed?

I’m very active on social media; I have a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Venmo, and Snapchat. Each platform is used for my different emotional needs, my audience, my need to censor myself, my perceived degree of privacy. I have a hand-written private journal but I only remember to find it once every two months. Tumblr is my true feelings however, I use Twitter as my ratchet mouthpiece. The Internet is a vast place; there are 6000 tweets per second, 360,000 tweets per minute and around 500 million tweets per day. It is easy to think that what you say is anonymous, lost in the sauce, inconsequential, and to a private audience; if there are so many people tweeting, why would people pay attention to you and what you say? I had a naive mentality, that the inundation of tweets is akin the veil of anonymity and privacy, and then, it wasn’t. I was shut out, judged, and castigated for 140 characters that I didn’t think would be misconstrued.

Is it fair of your loved ones to hear a snippet of your less-than-pleasant thoughts and feel betrayed? Yes. But is it fair to make a concrete judgement/assessment of who someone is based on their lapse of good-decision making? Is it fair to say someone is talking about you behind your back when they feel like their diatribes were unheard trees falling in the woods? Immaturity isn’t the same as immorality. But what matters more? Impact or intention?  And if you are acting in a manner that is hurtful, why are you mad that someone portrays you in a negative light?

Whatever you put on the Internet can be found by anyone. It’s important to remember to watch what you say and what you do, because you never really know who has their eyes on you. There are people who are waiting for you to make a mistake so they can disembowel you and justify exactly why you are wrong.


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