The rise and fall of the Instagram “KIS anon confessions” page or the endless student complaints on the “kisbamboogrove” Facebook page are just some examples that demonstrate the power of anonymity.
Not only does the mighty power of anonymity allow students who are unable to publicly address their concerns towards our school administration and their peers serve as a tool to express their angers, but it also supplies our student body with a toxicity that is quite frankly, ridiculously amusing.
The margins of internet anonymity and those impacted by it extend beyond KIS students to pretty much every internet/social media user in the world: 59% of the global population (Statista).
Of course, a side of anonymity allows individuals to voice their opinions without having to fear judgment, but nowadays it seems like this isn’t the most prevalent use of this feature. Instead, anonymity has become a utility that liberates people from fearing the consequences of their words and actions.
I mean yes, some of the posts shared on those anonymous platforms may have stated agreeable opinions that deserved praise (seriously); however, it is also the unavoidable reality that those opinions were brought up and voiced under veiled, unknown, figures.
While South Korea boasts an internet penetration rate (percentage of internet users compared to the national population) of 95.9% compared to the global average of 59% and the largest network of cybercafes, it is no surprise that we are also home to one of the highest teenage suicide rates, the highest online teenage bullying rates, and an extremely ruthless culture of hate comments and celebrity cancellation.
Ask yourself: What do all these statistics have in common? They are all byproducts of toxic online anonymity. The power of anonymity not only staples a mask that molds an unknown identity, but it also breeds a destructive nature that is fueled by the relentless and merciless nature of it.
Let’s remember one thing. Behind every piercing comment and its target are two individual human beings: and you could be either of them. But in reality, most of us are unable to graciously embrace the weight of both these roles.
In my sincerest thinking, I don’t entirely disapprove of criticism itself, as it is an unavoidable phase of the high school and teenage experience. However, I do pause in hesitation when I see individuals abusing the sense of misguided power they gain when hiding behind their screens, spitting comments that they would never dare to express in real life.
Here’s my not-so-anonymous comment: if you can’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all.
– SJ Yang ‘21
Featured image: Quentin Carnaille/Quentin Carnaille Selected Works