Technology-Enabled Anonymity…and Gutlessness

Technology makes this a halcyon time in human development.  Medicine advances mightily on nanotechnology, computing speed and power doubles at such a stunning rate as to confine hardware to a state of perpetual obsolescence.  My smartphone makes me feel stupid… Element 79 Chicago Advertising
Well, not 'say' so much as 'type'

But like most things in life, technology’s benefits can be a double-edged sword. Our unprecedented digital interconnectedness made possible through web 2.0 creates both amazing opportunities for human good (after two weeks, people texting “90999” to benefit tbe Red Cross’ Haitian relief raised $8 million, $10 at a time) and ugly examples of our basest impulses (browse the comments below basically any post).

Which is why I can’t help but view a new website called “” with deep suspicion.  Its premise is depressingly unassailable: “open, honest communication is crucial, but not always easy.”  Think about that–their entire business plan relies on our fundamental gutlessness when it comes to telling hard truths.  BetterMe’s solution is anonymous opportunities to give, get and solicit feedback on any issue you’d like, from the professional (how would you rate my presentation style?) to the personal (how would you rate my hairstyle?).

Browsing through the site, the creators clearly intend this as a helpful tool.  Under a page titled “Why it Works” they cite the power of anonymity and privacy to encourage genuine honesty and honest, constructive feedback.

But are we really so spineless that it has to come to this?  Is honesty so difficult that we need this crutch to learn what people really think?  Good intentions notwithstanding, will something like this be used for good or perverted for evil?  It’s like the promise of time travel: would you use it to go back in time and stop Hitler or bet on Superbowl games since you know the outcome?

There’s a reason the expression is “Face it.”

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

2 thoughts on “Technology-Enabled Anonymity…and Gutlessness

  1. mark says:

    I highly recommend a brief book from last year by David Denby of the New Yorker called Snark He argues, among other things, about how the anonymity of the web is destroying us. Anonymity is simply a device for people to say mean things that they’d never have the courage to say to someone’s face or to write if they had to add their real names to it.

  2. Timberwolf says:

    I think there are some benefits to this type of an interface. If you are the individually actively seeking advice and recognize that the only way you will be provided truthful responses, it’s the way to go.

    Btw, I think this is the same company but has a different look:

    It’s been around for awhile. Before that, I think it was

Leave a Reply