Advanced Essay 4: The Mystery Of Anonymity

The topic of anonymity can stretch as far as the mind can think in every direction. I decided to try and help people by giving them a starting point in order to begin to think about the different sides of people. In this essay I talk about the way people act differently when they are anonymous versus when they are just themselves, their identified selves. I also talked about different way that people become anonymous both literally and figuratively. My main goal is just to get people to think more about this subject. I hope you enjoy. 

There are always two sides to everyone. The identified side and the anonymous side. The identified side being the side that they show to everyone; the regular side of themselves. The anonymous side is the side that people do not see in each other; the side in which people take their deepest feelings and thoughts and express them. Although it is, most times, not a bad side of people, there are always the people who like to show their dark sides when they are anonymous in a sense.

Philip Zimbardo is an expert psychologist as well as the former leader of the widely known Stanford Prison Experiment that took place in 1971. The experiment was a test of good vs evil. Philip Zimbardo used students from Stanford University and made some of them prison guards and other prisoners. After time passed they psychologists noticed the students who were prison guards were getting really into their roles. They were getting harsher since they were in a position of power. I believe that even with the power, the students who played the prison guards wouldn’t have acted brutally to the students who played the prisoners. So what was it? The students who played the guards were in some way shape or form anonymous.

“You want to say that again boy?!” Says the police officer to the young man in front of him. The man is as close now as he can get. His balled fists are cut out of the photo though you can tell by his battle ready face that he won’t take anymore of the unnecessary bullshit the cop is coming to him with. The cop is as battle ready as the young man as he steps closer to him ready to take the young man away after any action out of line. Immediately the cop reacts and beats the young man. Why? He is a cop, his job is to keep order. Does he put the uniform on in order to gain authority over civilians or to keep the peace? Who knows, his uniform automatically gives him more power, he is a cop… a cookie that was created for and by the city he lives in.

Uniforms play a big role in the topic of anonymity. When I say uniforms, I mean it in a literal and figurative sense. When having to do with anonymity in a literal sense, uniforms are disguises, masks, and even regular uniforms. But if you look at a uniform in a figurative way, you realize that people are just playing a role. They are the dough under the cookie cutter. Something happens in people’s minds when they know they are just ‘doing their job’. That is what happened to the students who were the prison guards during the notorious Stanford Experiment. I have good reason to believe that the students who were the guards felt a sense of anonymity when they put on the uniforms because at the end of the day, they were only playing a role. They were anonymous and that is when they started showing the darker side of themselves. Ball players have to play ball because that is their role, it is their job. There are some cases when people gain authority and take that to another level though, just like the student guards in the experiment. Even if they don’t want to, police have to arrest people who commit crimes because that is their role in society when they put on the uniform. A soldier has to fight for his country because that is his job when he puts on the uniform, he knows it is kill or be killed.

The military is another world in itself. There are so many different factors that go into the relationship between the uniform, the soldier, and the future soldier. The future soldier is the youth, the kids who look up to these heroes. Today in age, many kids submerge themselves in the world of video games. Violent games are the top sellers these days which is extremely important when thinking about the next generations. The military has been taking advantage of these violent video games and they give the future soldier a glimpse into the world of the military. The future soldier is obviously going to be starstruck because it is just the world we live in. So now we have these non violent kids playing violent video games all day; doing things that they know they will not do in real life (most kids). Why do they do it? They do it because they are (like the student guards in uniforms) anonymous. They do not consider themselves as them when playing these games, they are playing a role and the character is their uniform. What they do in the game will not impact their real lives therefore they feel like they have the freedom to fight other characters, harass other characters, to kill other characters. This is a serious problem because it can affect the way the child grows. The military uses these violent and militaristic games in order to recruit these kids because if you give kids a glimpse of what this is and they (for some reason) enjoy it, then that is automatic recruits in the future.

No one can ever see the anonymous side of someone until they show it. That is why the idea of anonymity is such a mystery because it can play into so many aspects of society. Everyone has the potential to be good and evil, it’s just up to them to decide what side to show. But from Town Devils to cookie cut villains, this world is truly filled with a variety of personalities and voices that are all just waiting to be seen and heard.


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Maraniss, David. "FBI Agent Uncovers the Truth of Prison Brutality."Washington Post. The Washington Post, 06 Nov. 2014. Web. <>.

Witness Media Lab Editors. "Caught on Camera: Police Abuse in the U.S."WITNESS Media Lab. WITNESS, 08 Sept. 2015. Web. <>.

PBS Editors. "The Army Experience Center." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. <>.

Zimbardo, Philip. "The Psychology of Evil." Philip Zimbardo:. TED Talk, Feb. 2008. Web. <>.