Anonymity is our norm

While obviously what we do — and who we are — on the Net keeps surprising us, we would be fools not to learn from our experience as selves in the real world. So, here’s something I think the real world teaches us.

The term “anonymity” has a bad connotation because it’s used primarily where there’s an expectation of identification. We don’t say that someone entered a movie theater anonymously unless we’re implying that the person had reason to hide her identity, even though, in truth, anyone who pays cash for a theater ticket is entering it anonymously.

So, because we use the term “anonymous” mainly where identification is expected, this may lead us to think that being identified is the usual state — the default state — in the real world. In fact, the rarity with which we use the term actually indicates that the opposite is the case: Anonymity is the norm in the real world.

Anonymity (including pseudonymity) does much good online.