Shrouded by Anonymity

The Decline of Accountability and the Rise of Cowardice


Some may call me old-fashioned in my beliefs, but when I was growing up in rural Prince Edward Island, there were three things that I was taught in my formative years that stuck with me through my adolescence and into my years at StFX. The first was to never go anywhere without fresh socks and underwear. The importance of this lesson really doesn’t hold a whole lot of relevance when you were a young kid who couldn’t care less about notions such as this, but when you’re older and wiser, the importance of this basic hygienic principle cannot be stressed enough. 

The second lesson that really stuck with me was to never slap a man while he was chewing tobacco. Really, the only reason this stuck with me was because I found it to be such an anomaly. I mean, I know plenty of people who indulge in the act of packing their lip full of dip, but I’ve never had any cause to slap any of them. I suppose the moral of this lesson was to give the other party a fair chance if you were to get into a heated argument or a scrap. 

The final lesson that has stuck with me is what I believe to be most important, especially given the context in which I find myself writing this article. This lesson was that the words you speak or convey through whatever medium have meaning, and by that virtue, consequences. However, it seems that this aforementioned principle of the meaning of words is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Today we have various forms of social media that allow anyone to share whatever is on their mind by simply twiddling their thumbs over a touch screen and hitting the submit or send key. While most apps like Facebook or Twitter hold you accountable to what it is you would type because your name is basically on it, other applications deprive those who post of any degree of accountability for what they say. 

It’s easy to understand the appeal behind apps like YikYak and Whisper. People can literally write whatever the hell they want and share it with the surrounding populace without fear of any sort of consequence. This is achieved by the application granting the poster complete anonymity and removing any and all responsibility. Whether it be complaining about your RA being a hard-ass or personally attacking someone who wrote an article you didn’t like, have no fear, because no one will ever know it was you! I find sad and honestly quite pathetic that people stoop to this level. I can pretty much guarantee that apps that allow posting anonymously would cease to exist if there was any way of the identity of the poster coming to fruition. I was brought up on the idea that if you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, then under no circumstances should those words be uttered at all. Being candid, we should call those who would hide behind the shroud of anonymity to belittle, bash, or even harass anyone what they really are: they are cowards. 

They are cowards because they say what they want without the fear of accountability or consequence. If people feel the need to judge, slander, and defame, then they should be held accountable for these actions, as they are in essentially every other walk of life. When we don’t hold people accountable for their actions, or in this particular case their words, we essentially allow anything to be said without reprimand or responsibility. So next time you feel like complaining about something that you don’t like, put down the phone. Show a bit of maturity, moral courage, and fortitude, and deal with it in a manner that fits the situation instead of neglecting any accountability and hiding the behind faceless veil of your phones.