Initially, the internet felt like an anonymous outlet and forum for users. Today though, it feels as if you can’t click on anything without feeling like you’re being monitored or watched. I don’t know about you, but every time I get a pop-up ad that flashes “Find Local Singles in [your neighborhood inserted here]!” I get pretty freaked out. Through my travelogue, I hope to explore the little anonymity that remains and to evaluate if these alleged outlets are even truly “anonymous,” and the impact of such a thing.
One website that has always caught my attention, while freaking me out all the same, is PostSecret. PostSecret is a website in which “people send secrets anonymously on homemade postcards.” These postcards range from gut-wrenchingly funny to just plain eery (see examples). There are no restrictions that are imposed in regards to the content users may submit-only that it be entirely truthful. The site initially began as an experiment on Blogspot and has experienced tremendous popularity with books and museum exhibits. Relatively recently, an online discussion forum was launched, known as the “PostSecret Community,” which serves to question the anonymity of the PostSecret project. Some of these postcards are pretty damn freaky (i.e. admitting to murder), and it makes me wonder if PostSecret has any obligation to trace and report such allegations. Further investigation could include researching if any action has ever been taken in regards to crime confessions, and simply following threads on the discussion forum. I admit that I am partially limited in where I can take this.
While I am definitely more interested in PostSecret, another option in regards to “anonymity” is Formspring, a “question and answer-based social website.” This would be easier to conduct further interviews and research on, such as creating my own formspring (despite my utter abhorrence for the website). There is a lot to research here such as the forum that formspring creates for harassment and bullying. There have even been reported cases of suicide directly linked to formspring.
I’m not sure exactly where I want to go with this, but I know that I definitely want to further examine the ramifications of these “anonymous” sites. I look forward to hearing your thoughts & comments on this