Does being anonymous make it easier to be mean?

It can mean freedom to express yourself without fear – but there can also be a down side.

Anonymity can create a breeding ground for meanness, where people might ask or say things they would never say to your face.

If you ask for people to send you anonymous messages you might receive things that you don’t really want to see and when sending anonymous messages yourself you might send things you would never say in real life.

These things can come back to bite you and using anonymous apps can leave you open to people trolling you.

Find out more about anonymous apps.

Think about someone you don’t like very much – now imagine writing down everything you don’t like about them.

Probably not too difficult, right?

But imagine reading that note out to their face, while other people watched.

It would be really tough, you’d probably feel bad, and people might think you’re mean.

When people don’t have to take responsibility for their actions, it is easier to be meaner, nastier, and more aggressive.

In online spaces, where there is a lot of anonymity, there also tends to be a lot more nastiness.

The great thing about face-to-face conversations is that we are more likely to know how the other person is feeling.

Are they smiling or looking sad? Did we hurt their feelings, even if we didn’t mean to? They let us know.

Online, it’s much harder to understand these things and so it’s important to be more careful with our words. 

If you're worried about anonymity online, there are some things to remember:

  • You don’t have to take nasty comments or online abuse from strangers. Think before downloading anonymous apps.
  • You should block or report any users being nasty or unkind.
  • You can treat people with respect, even if others don't.

We all feel bad when people don’t take care with their words – so we should actively try to treat people with more respect, whether we know who those people are, or not.

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