Flipping through a publication recently, I noticed an interesting pattern. There were quite a few letters to the editor, many of them with strong takeaways. However, the majority were signed anonymously. This bothered me, as it felt like the anonymity of the authors took away the entire message. If you cannot sign your name to something, how can you expect others to listen?
Thinking about this over the past few days, I have come to realize that we live in an age of anonymity. We have become protective of ourselves and our families to such an extent, that we are afraid to be associated with our very own actions. We, therefore, have an abundance of anonymity in our midst, ranging from letters to the editor to mega donations. Many Instagram, Twitter, and other social media users hide behind a name, not their own. It seems to have become an incurable plague.
Why Do We Act Anonymously & What Does This Have To Do With Your Courage?
Anonymity helps to protect from stigma or other self-doubts that one has, and it is also used to do things selflessly. However, it is used too much; in fact, it appears to have become a selfish act. Why does our generation feel like we cannot show who we really are? It is as if there is the external person and the internal person, and they calibrate via the anonymous factor.
Much has been written on the cowardice hiding behind anonymity, and how it rears its ugly head all over the internet. I would like to focus on the lack of self courage hiding behind anonymity.
People write books, articles, letters and tweets anonymously, for many reasons, the crux of which is to protect themselves or their careers from any collateral damage. What they do not realize is that ideas, when communicated anonymously, lose their force in the battle of ideas. Pseudonyms normalize the idea that people should be frightened to express unpopular views. Consequently, they indirectly serve to delegitimize the views being expressed.
Courage = 100% Accountability
A mentor taught me that when one acts with courage and knows their view is correct, it no longer makes any difference what others think. If I can express my opinion without hiding behind a mask, I am thereby empowered to follow through on my expression and not let the detractors get me down. As a caveat, courage is the ability to take 100% ownership of your actions, which includes the courage to admit when it’s a mistake.
“ The courageous can be anonymous, like fallen heroes with stars on a wall, but the anonymous are not necessarily courageous.” Danny Pharr
Imagine everyone being true to who they are. When people express their views courageously, conversations take place, policies change, the world becomes a better place. When we hide behind a pseudonym we are enabling a status-quo that people should be afraid to express their opinion, however unpopular it may seem. As a result, it causes the opinion expressed to be rendered completely illegitimate.
I look forward to recognizing my peers through their courageously expressed views and seeing the conversations that take place as a result of this courage.
Are you ready?
Thank you for your courage!