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Thank social media for privilege of anonymity

By Cosmas Butunyi | April 6th 2020

Out of the many things that it has delivered to mankind, anonymity must be one of the treasured fruits and gifts of social media Like a balaclava, few things facilitate free unhinged banter like these platforms. Social media citizens are equal opportunity tacklers - everyone is fair game and everything goes on any good day.

Anonymity has always been the wind under the sails of many of the so-called 'keyboard activists'. Of course, social media often becomes a double-edged sword of sorts, with the small risk that leaves it prone to wanton abuse.

Ask the very many victims of trolls and cyber-bullying on the streets of social media Like a drunk person's words, social media posts often offer a glimpse into the rarely seen, deeply seated truths in persons' hearts and minds. In the posts lie stuff that would ideally never escape the lips, only marinating and sizzling in the sub-conscious, masked by niceties.

Until the allure of social media relevance teases them out. Being on social media is like being part of a shouting mob in pitch darkness.

It helps many cowards to remain unidentifiable members of a lynch squad. The advantage with this is either getting lost in the cacophony with no chance of one's voice being singled out; or enjoying plausible deniability, blaming the bandwagon, should stuff unfortunately hit the fan.

No wonder the many pseudonyms that litter social media platforms today. The cheesy usernames do a lot more than just projecting the images that such users have of themselves in their minds; they are also a distraction from who they actually are. If someone ran an audit of the social media users, these platforms would be significantly tripped off numbers they so boldly wear on their sleeves.

Up to five accounts, all with different names could be traced to a single user.

Truth is, we are a lot bolder pulling punches when our identity is hidden. Which is strange, considering how much accent is often put on having an identity.

In reality, we prefer keeping our identities safely hidden. Yet, there are others who also roam social media streets to whom disclosing identity is not exactly a problem. They will go gung ho online, as long as it is not mortal combat. Apparently, the loudest keyboard activists happen to be the most timid individuals in flesh and blood.

They, obviously, are the greatest beneficiaries of guts that anonymity so helpfully delivers.

Not that anonymity is a novel phenomenon for mankind that has only been proudly delivered by social media in recent days. It has always existed. Humans have been known to Jean on obscurity to encourage honesty in discourse. Without it, there is always the struggle to say what others want to hear. Few people have the balls to disappoint others to their face and even hurt their feelings.

This is the reason research on sensitive topics often yield better results when respondents are given an anonymity pledge.

Same to appraisal and feedback mechanism; and whistle blowing. It is all thanks to the privilege of anonymity. We are more open when what we say can neither be traced back nor used against us in future.

Fast forward to the world today. Enter Kubool, the latest sensation on social media a messaging app that is taking the love of giving and receiving anonymous feedback to a whole new level. It has become a haunt for secret admirers and the evil amongst us who seem to get a kick from making others feel bad about themselves.

On this platform, people are baring their hearts, most of it nowhere near flattering.

For many, the search for validation and sweet nothings is ending in premium tears.

Remember, taking feedback is a skill that many people always struggle with. Now imagine it stone-cold, served brutally with no-holds-barred by someone you will never know.

Who wants to be told how much they suck in the sack? Or being reminded how much one is a terrible person? It definitely is not for faint-hearted. The last time a similar app roamed the inter-webs, it was quickly dismissed for being turned into a tool for cyberbullies. Yet, we still jump onto the bandwagon.

The moral of the story is that much as we enjoy anonymity and all that it brings, it comes at a steep price we should be prepared to pay when we indulge.

[email protected]/ @butunyi

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