These days, we are given almost unlimited opportunities to voice our opinion. Thanks to the internet and outlets such as blogs, twitter, social networking sites and comment spaces on nearly everything, we are free to express our views to the world. Partnered with this abundance of space for sharing is the option to remain anonymous while doing so.

I have found that these factors have a great influence on human behavior. People stray from their normal sensible ways and seem to act more irresponsibly. Without the restraint of attaching their name and face to a statement, they are much more likely to express negative, extreme and even irrational viewpoints. The same way mobs come into being; when people are allowed to be part of a large group without the need to be personally identified or held responsible, all their inhibitions seem to disappear.

This also shows up on what I would consider professional websites. I have noticed that websites that do not require commenters to identify themselves tend to get more negative feedback and personal attacks. In contrast, websites where people must use a registered identity when commenting receive more constructive responses.

I am absolutely in favor of free speech. I think that freedom of expression is one of the countless wonders of the internet. I simply think that the lack of accountability exposes a fascinating feature of human nature.

A person’s behavior is arguably the largest component of their identity. But what happens when the two are no longer linked? Is this behavior OK?

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