The power of anonymity

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As I sit down to write this column, I am astounded by how much backlash certain articles that ran in my section in the last edition have received. Most notably Gene Mitchell’s article about students’ call to run for SGA and Bryson Jones’ article about Body By Visalus.
While these articles have shot the Op-Ed section’s viewing on The Cluster’s website through the roof, it has also brought to my attention the power of anonymity, and what a destructive power that is.
I was appalled by some of the comments that I came across while on mercercluster.com. It would take up the majority of this page to write all of the comments that both offended and disgusted me, but here are the ones that stung the most.
“I feel really bad for you. And feel bad for all the other poor students who just wasted 5 minutes of their lives reading such an uneducated and biased article.”
“You made yourself look stupid amongst hundreds of college students…”
“SGA is great and I loved taking it serious, but at the end of the day there are much bigger things to worry about, like apologizing and trying to rebuild all the relationships that you just ruined… Do yourself a favor and transfer.”
“I vote to rename this article: ‘Come on Mercerians, it’s about time to (finally) give SGA a reason to make me resign!’”
“Opinion articles written with a condensing tone will only make you look like a douche bag.”
My mouth fell open when I read the majority of these comments. I know that Mr. Mitchell’s article about the candidates for SGA elections was seen as harsh by some.
But at least he had the balls to pen a name to his article, whereas the majority of these comments were written anonymously with a fake name.
The truth is, if mercercluster.com made it mandatory for people to put their name on their comments — like many Op-Ed sections require in order to submit a letter to the editor or comment on their websites — then most of the people who submitted these comments would not have done so.
The only reason they felt safe enough to write these scathing comments are because they could hide behind an opaque screen.
Yes, they got out their loathing words, but in the light of day no one would know it was they who wrote the comments and they would be able to get away scot-free.
No person who wrote any of the negative comments on either Jones’ article or Mitchell’s would have come up to either student in person and said the words stated in any of these comments.
People feel safe when they are able to hide behind a curtain of anonymity and that my friends is the only thing that motivated the men and women who wrote such classless comments on the two articles.
Mercer students, if something that was written in this section offended you badly enough to the point where you deem it necessary to try and publicly humiliate other students, then it is my opinion that you should stand by your words and put a name to them.
I know that I will most likely receive some backlash for this column. Will people talk about it in private? Probably. In public? Maybe. On mercercluster.com? Most definitely.
But hiding behind anonymous names no person will ever be able to decode is spineless. I invite the people who will choose to negatively comment on this article to do so publicly, and if not to my face then do me the honor of knowing your identity.

Questions or comments about this column can be sent to opinions@mercercluster.com.

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