Internet Anonymity and You, An Uncyclopedians Guide to NOT Getting Your Arse Handed to You
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Within these times of increased access to both methods of communication and information, we have become complacent in our view that our activity is not subject to the most detailed scrutiny and that we are somehow "safe" from any consequences should those activities overstep any boundaries of normal human interaction or international law. Anonymity may reduce the accountability an individual perceives to have for their actions, and removes the impact these actions might otherwise have on their reputation.
edit Methods of Achieving Anonymity
The most basic level of anonymity is usually achieved through the use of pseudonyms or nom de plumes, often based around clever plays of words, or related to subjects for which the individual has a keen interest.
A higher degree of security and anonymity may be achieved through the use of "anonymizing services" such as TOR. This allows for an individuals IP Address to be hidden from normal methods of detection and is a popular tool amongst criminal classes, L33T Programming Types, and teenage boys wishing to pursue elements of juvenile humour usually at the expense of other individuals. However, the TOR service is generally so frustratingly slow that almost all would-be ne'er-do-well types will commonly give up any attempt to use it after 5 minutes and simply post content directly from their own internet connection.
Ultimately though, there is no such thing as complete anonymity on the internet, should your "crimes" warrant it no amount of security will prevent organisations such as the FBI, Interpol and our own legal and moral guardians from handing your sorry arse over to any injured parties and their associated pitchfork waving, torch brandishing lynch mob.
edit Reasons for Seeking Anonymity
There are numerous reasons why an individual may feel the need to remain anonymous within their online activities, many of which are perfectly legitimate and legal. These may include whistleblowing or personal issues which you may wish to keep separate from loved ones or the general public.
Occasionally amongst a small circle of shallow acquaintances a situation can arise through the subtle interaction of peer pressure (or in some cases peer to peer pressure) which results in individuals pushed into action that they know to be wrong on the say so of more manipulative members within the group dynamic. In other cases, bitter individuals, often shunned in the real world feel the need to vent their frustrations on others. Frequently they choose to do anonymously as this provides a balance between stroking their fragile egos whilst at the same time not placing them in a situation which could result in parental displeasure and a withdrawal of their allowance and/or personal freedom.
edit On Losing Anonymity
There are many cases of parties who have aimed to maintain their anonymity but despite their best efforts have had their personal details revealed. In some events this has been potentially dangerous for the individual whilst in other cases it has been a humbling, life changing event. Still in other cases it hasn't caused any change whatsoever and the individual just assumes a replacement persona before returning to their previous activity having learned just how effectively they can harass someone by using a honeypot identity to further the abuse.
Occasionally people seem to actively seek to lose their anonymity, releasing information about themselves on social networking websites such as Facebook and Match.com. Much of this is evidently due to an unnatural need to reveal personal details to anyone equally desperate enough to listen.
Many modern psychologists and armchair experts alike also attribute this to a subconscious desire of the perpetrator to be caught and repudiated for their actions, whilst others believe it can be attributed to masochistic fetishism which thusly fulfils Rule 34 of the internet.