Anonymity

Once again the crossing of several topics from different podcasts: always a good sign that a subject is somehow indicative of a general mood or trend. In this case, two separate BBC Radio 4 – Analysis podcasts (broadcast on 3 Feb and 17 Feb) covering aspects of the current wave of social movements and social voice falling under the broad labels “anonymous” or “anarcho-populism.”

In addition to the psychological facets of the desire or need for anonymity, and apart from the major trends of rebellion against establishment and blending of social media with a rather introspective desire to forcefully express oneself and ones wishes, the key topics covered touch on justice and certainty, as well as vulnerability and openness. In terms of justice, as one of the interviewees points out, the rule of law has always been based on the fact that a case is tried in the open, that there is no anonymity: exactly the opposite of what is done when documents are leaked or truths/conspiracies are aired in the media by unknown persons. One factor here is certainty, in the sense that a heightened degree of certainty often hardens people in their views and leads them to take matters into their own hands (something undoubtedly made easier by our modern connectedness).

In both cases, the arguments seem to revolve around the relative embededness within society of the two concepts. Overall, it appears to be a sign of degree. After all, a small number of anarchists or anonymous do-gooders is no bad thing: but what happens when more and more people fall into this category? Are these not movements which, paradoxically, are unsustainable once a larger fraction of the population claim to be adherents?

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