You might be thinking of saying to me: “How are anonymous not heroes? They were battling against the Church of Scientology!”
Yes, I do see that side of the story. Hell, it almost made me support them. But after a little research, I came to the conclusion that, of the two sides in that famous war, Anonymous isn’t exactly the knight in shining armour. The only reason people, especially teenagers, may think they’re on the side of good is because they publicly stand against internet surveillance and censorship, and support freedom of speech. But they also stand for internet activism and internet vigilantism, and those things, especially internet vigilantism, can be just as dangerous as the things they oppose.
What is internet vigilantism? It’s basically regular vigilantism, made famous by Batman, except it’s done on the internet. There are many forms of it, but the most popular, and the most socially damaging of these methods is the “public shaming”, which involves filming something that you can rally people against, and upload that video onto the internet, usually YouTube. In some incidents, Anonymous themselves, or just members of the 4chan imageboard where they come from, can investigate said incident, and through the magic of hacking, they can identify the target, and report him/her to whichever authority is appropriate. I’m in favour of justice, but not like this. And are we forgetting something? They’re the same people who support illegal digital piracy, and 4chan themselves, the site that hosts Anonymous, are also responsible for perpetuating horrible, mind-numbing, web tainting memes like lolcats, and is also a locker full of porn, some of which isn’t safe for any environment, let alone work.
Also, Anonymous has been going around misappropriating the image of Guy Fawkes.
Guy Fawkes, especially the Guy Fawkes mask, has come to symbolize rebellion against the government, theocracies in particular. This happened after the Wachowski brothers released V for Vendetta, and after Anonymous adopted the mask from the movie as a symbol, which Anonymous protesters wear on their faces to mask their identity (hence the name). However, that’s far from Guy Fawkes’ actual motivations. Yes, Fawkes was rebelling against a government that oppressed Catholics, but only because he wanted to install a Catholic theocracy, thus shifting the 17th century balance of power against the Protestants.
Those of you who read Alan Moore’s comic book series V for Vendetta will know that the series was Alan Moore’s warning about Britain slowly becoming a fascist dictatorship, which would have actually happened if the infamous Gunpowder plot had actually succeeded. And yet thanks to Anonymous and 4chan, anarchists have been misusing the symbol of Guy Fawkes for as long as Facebook and YouTube were mainstream. Thanks a lot guys, you’ve just distorted history!
Now before people start thinking that Anonymous would actually want to attack this post, or even this blog, just for criticizing them, I highly believe that they wouldn’t. After all, if they did take down this post, it would contradict their belief in free speech, and the hypocrisy of it would turn the world against them.
While we’re here, let me make one final point. We should stop taking them super-seriously. Sure, they have the power to cause direct-denial-of-service attacks on people. But most of the time they don’t do it, and when they do, it’s only directed at governments, corporations, religious organisations, and security companies, and that only happens when they commit a moral crime. They have no interest in putting fear in ordinary people. Finally, we should stop declaring people as “good” or “evil”, as there is no collective war of good vs evil. We all have our own conflict of this sort, as we are all protagonists of our own stories. That means there are villains, but there can never be heroes for all of us.