Comedian Dane Cook once said in the middle of his stand up routine, ‘Let’s turn the lights off and play a game called: Who’s-in-my-mouth?’
And why not? Hell, I’d love to play that game but chances are I’d take it too far. A grope here, maybe a pinch there. I mean seriously. How many of us have wanted to do something, say something or go somewhere but decided against it for fear that someone will quote you on it, see you doing it or spot you at that place? We really limit our experiences based on the fear that someone will know who we are. If there was a way for us to do something with the guarantee that nobody would know it was really us doing it, we’d most probably live more fulfilling lives. Anonymity is the buzzword these days. Being anonymous means that we get to switch the lights off so the world can’t see us while we curse, complain and completely lose our friggin’ minds. By staying anonymous we steer clear of the one thing we’re scared of the most. (Zulu drum roll)...
What better place to be anonymous than the inter-web? You do it everyday. You log on with a “username”. When you sign up you skip all the sections that aren’t labelled mandatory. You use a picture of your favourite hip-hop star or cartoon character as a profile picture.
Even your character changes. All-of-a-Sunday you’ve gone from Nervous Ned to the one liner “Nice shoes wanna have sex?” Ned. Or from Palesa the prude to Palesa the porn star. We’ve all “unfortunately” been tricked into clicking on some ad and “by mistake,” ended up on those dating sites where people’s profile pictures look more like a page from that dirty magazine that got passed around in high school. But for some reason unbeknown to man, you never really meet these exposed erections and V-shaven va-jayjays (respect Oprah) anywhere. I’ve yet to bump into a “horny 24 year- old looking for someone open to new things,” but I know she’s out there. I refuse to believe otherwise.
It’s not just the World Wide Web. Just pick up any publication that has a letters section and count how many people have signed their letters “Anonymous.” We wouldn’t want the world to know we have an opinion because we know that our opinions will be met with criticism, hate mail or Jay-Zet appointing us head of his shower campaign. God-forbid someone recognises our obsessive use of a full stop at the end of every sentence.
Just look back at how many times you’ve heard the universal phrase of denial, ‘Just do it... nobody will know it was you.’ And with those magical words you were invincible. You could feel the power surging to your hand while you engraved the words “Javas is gay” on the side of your History class table. How sinfully satisfying. I mean what would religious people get up to if they were taught that God was only watching on Sundays to count the turn-out at church? They’d have no-one to answer to for six days of the week. Sweet mother of Moses, I dread to think of what kind of world we’d be living in then!
But what if we lived in a world where there was no anonymity? What if burglars had to leave a business card behind after breaking into your house? What if your full name and ID number were required when you logged onto adult-finder.com? Would you still call to check who called from that unsaved number if you didn’t have a private number option?
So everyday we find new ways of staying anonymous – sort of like creating our own little controlled load shedding. Turn the lights off here while I give you a piece of my mind. Trip the switch so I can spray paint all over your wall and no-one but the five people who follow my graffiti will know it was me. Anonymity. You can’t point your finger at someone you can’t see. By the time you’ve turned 360 degrees looking for the tongue that just violated you, I’m already swapping saliva with your best friend while groping Pakistani behind me.
Writer: Loyiso Madinga Image