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Rocky View Publishing reporter concerned online anonymity in the real world

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Apr 03, 2014 11:38 am

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My husband and I recently moved into our new townhome, which is lovely and exciting, but when we moved I didn’t realize my 30-year-old hubby would almost overnight turn into a cranky old man.

It all started when our neighbour moved in about a month after we did. With her, came her car and her frequently visiting friends, along with their cars.

This would be fine because they don’t make too much noise and seem like nice enough people. However, the complex we are in has very limited parking and soon we were having to manoeuvre our vehicles to seemingly impossible angles just to get in and out of our parking spaces.

Here is where my dear husband became that guy, that neighbour who feels he is being put out, agitated and downright provoked by an inanimate vehicle that is encroaching on his space.

He is the parking-space police and he will let you know if he doesn’t like what you’re doing.

Ugh. That is the best way to describe my feelings towards his war on neighbouring parkers.

I admit it is in fact very annoying when someone parks across the street but still directly behind our driveway. I admit it’s even more frustrating when you realize that side of the street is for fire parking only. I admit that it is positively irksome that the street was not designed for parking on both sides and thus when people park in the fire-parking zone, it is painfully difficult to get your car down the street let alone manoeuvre into your driveway.

I understand all this and support my husband in his annoyance at the situation but I don’t get or agree with his plan of attack to win the parking war.

Instead of approaching neighbours directly and asking them to move their car, or explaining to them why he has an issue with where they park, he leaves notes, passive aggressive, anonymous notes that accomplish nothing.

I can’t fully blame him for his need for anonymity in this or other situations, it seems to me anonymity has become a part of the world we live in.

Take for example social media, there we can spew all our thoughts and complaints with little repercussions because our online profile doesn’t have to include who we really are, but is more like who we felt like being the day we set it up.

People leave absolutely vicious comments about and to one another everyday on the Internet.

I remember a story that came out around New Years Eve, where a girl had suggested the world was 2014 years old. However misguided her belief of the world’s age is, it did not warrant the hate-filled comments she was bombarded with. People were telling her she should kill herself, calling her horrid names and generally just being cruel bullies. And they got away with it because @insert-fake-name-here is rarely, if ever, tracked down and held responsible for their online actions.

Lately I have seen a lot of “confessions” from Whisper forums that share all kinds of atrocious thoughts and behaviours that allegedly come from everyone from teachers to baristas. The app allows users to post messages anonymously, which are usually displayed superimposed over an image. Admittedly some of them are funny but most of them leave me feeling shamed that people like that are out there and dealing with the public.

There comes a point where I have to ask myself if all this anonymity is a good thing? I am all for privacy and security of self, but if you are going to share something with the public (and sharing online is public) than you should have the decency and guts to say, “This is me, this is what I think and I stand by it.”

Saying hurtful things or admitting harmful secrets while hiding behind an essentially fake persona is cowardly and, I believe, creates a breeding ground that serves to only empowers bullies.

I don’t begin to suggest I have the answers to fix things but I do hope we all take a minute and really think about what we are saying and the impact it may have before hitting submit.

I am Allison Chorney and I stand by what I said.


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