Q&A: The anonymous web. Why does it attract us?

The web and all its applications and inventions mirror what’s going on in the world. One thing I’ve been looking into lately is the anonymous web. I’m talking about confession websites and apps where you don’t share your identity – why do we use them? They are increasing in popularity, but why?

It’s not surprising that there are dedicated websites where you can share your thoughts anonymously.

Many of us are used to living a relative anonymous life as more people live in big cities. Our great grandparents were more likely to live in smaller places where everyone knew everything about each other. Today, if you want, you can spend days without actually talking to anyone. Social media, when you are using your real name and identity, has similarities to village gossip where people talk about what’s happening in other people’s lives. It can be good and bad, and your online and offline networks can be both strong and weak.

We live in a busy world and maybe your relationships are not deep enough for you to talk about what’s really bothering you, so, you might turn to an anonymous confession website such as Pencourage.

Writing is a way of healing, and collecting all your thoughts in writing can help you to feel better and make up your mind about what you must do about a problem. It can guide you to work out a plan for yourself.

The people you have in your life might want to listen, but for some reason they can’t – they may not have time or they have too many problems themselves to be able to listen.

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Some subjects are too taboo to talk about in different contexts. One example of an online confession I read on Pencourage is about a man who is secretly gay and whose family is Jehovah’s Witnesses. He had no one in his life to talk to so he wrote a confession online.

I recently heard about an anonymous SMS message service called Crisis Line Textin the US where teenagers can text about their problems. They don’t have to give their name or any personal details and it’s turned out to be very successful. Many young people use the SMS service.

Sharing your thoughts with a stranger is much better than keeping them inside yourself. When you are in a crisis you need a compassionate listener who will be there without judging you. When you are talking to someone they often come up with a simple solution and then change the topic. We live in a quick fix world.

Getting things off your chest knowing that someone will listen to you without judging you helps you get the energy you need to feel at least a little bit better.

One big problem with the web is its privacy issues. We all know that governments world wide are spying on us and collect data about what we are doing when online. All of the websites we have ever visited are stored somewhere and what will happen if that information goes public? Big and complex questions…

One man who got his Snapchat messages outed was the now former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Rory Cullinan. He thought it was safe sending it using Snapchat.

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His daughter saved his Snapchat messages as screen grabs on her smartphone and posted them on her Instagram account. Not such a smart thing to do as he wrote about how bored he was at work.

The daughter needs to take a course in basic digital manners. The story was not enjoyable for any of them. By the way, being anonymous online doesn’t involve using apps such as Snapchat.

With these thoughts about life online, I wish you a good day.

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