Anonymous is powerful. It can stir up many emotions. Curiosity, annoyance, even fear. It can lead the mind to wander, to speculate. Many myths and urban legends endure because they are anonymous. It’s the unknown factor that makes them so compelling. If an anonymous is unmasked or reveals themselves, the mystique is lost.
Anonymous appears in many guises. From victims of crime protected from reprisal by anonymity, to perpetrators of crime who need to protect their anonymity to avoid punishment. Some are anonymous because they lack confidence, and others because they lack morals. While anonymous has an allure and excitement, it also has a dark side.
Some years ago, while working at a previous employer, I witnessed the impact of an anonymous act. One morning, all employees over a certain age arrived at work to find a ‘present’ on their desk of a small plastic dinosaur and a membership card for the ‘Dinosaur Club’. It certainly caused a stir. Some people took it in good humour, laughed and displayed it on their desk for years to come. At the other end of the spectrum were those that were outraged and offended. Over the years a few more dinosaur artifacts arrived on the desks. People speculated endlessly about who it might be and how they managed to get away with it. Was it an elaborate bit of fun, or an ageist slur? I guess we’ll never know because the artist/culprit was never outed.
Anonymous can invoke extreme, polar opposite reactions. So with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, when we traditionally send anonymous cards and gifts, I would like to say a word about openness. There’s something underhand about hiding in the shadows while you assess everyone’s reaction. Stand up for what you believe in and be transparent about why. Being anonymous can never fully achieve what you can with a face, a name, a personality and a reputation. Signing your name demonstrates commitment and earns respect. After all, the secret admirer will never win hearts on February 14th (aside from being more than a little creepy) if nobody knows who they are 🙂