Anonymity and the Internet: A View on Anonymity’s Benefits Through Ruth Hall

Anonymity and the Internet: A View on Anonymity’s Benefits Through Ruth Hall

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Every day people portray multiple personas, sometimes characteristic of one’s self but others entirely uncharacteristic. Who we are in front of our employers, children, friends, or strangers are different parts of our whole. This is taken to a much more extreme level with the rise of the Internet, and people often undertake a persona otherwise unseen in the “real world”. In one moment we are the epitome of professionalism, yet in the next moment we are online jabbing at various political parties or insulting another player on a video game. However, if we were to do this under our actual name it is likely we would be chastised. It is this reason we frequently adopt pseudonyms online. By doing so we grant ourselves an amount of freedom; we are given an opportunity to portray someone our inhibitions may not otherwise allow or society frowns upon. Of course, the apparent anonymity of the Internet causes a large amount of negative behavior, often in the form of what is colloquially known as “trolling”. Because we concentrate on this behavior pseudonyms are slowly being replaced with our real identities. However, the use of pseudonyms may have a beneficial impact as well. Through lack of example we often lose sight of this, but it is by observing an example in which pseudonymity breeds positive consequences in which we can understand the importance of it online. One such example of this is in the semi-autobiographical work Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of Present Time, by Fanny Fern (Sarah Willis), written in 1854. Even though this is a historical case and, of course, does not involve the Internet, it provides insight into what apparent anonymity offers. By examining the positive consequences the protagonist, Ruth Hall, undergoes after ado...


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...select case, not the majority. Perhaps even more worrying is that mass rejection still can, and does, occur on the Internet. However, it is also remarkably easier to find an accepting community online. This community nurtures positive growth and that growth can be carried over to real life. Therefore, the potential for positive consequences through anonymity on the Internet exists, and the account of Ruth Hall is a prime example that parallels with thousands of people’s experiences every day in present times. Even though Ruth uses a different form of media, the affect is similar to the student. The question then, becomes not how to eradicate anonymity, but how to lessen the negative consequences and nurture the positive ones.



Works Cited

Fern, Fanny. Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time. 1854. Introd. Susan Belasco. New York: Penguin Books, 1997. Print.

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