Weekly Roundup: The Anonymity Clause

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These weeks fly by faster than I can even think about what I’ve been doing in the week itself, I swear. This week’s weekly roundup is going to be fairly short, even though there has been much to talk about in the Blizziverse, let alone what other games I’ve played or what achievements I picked up in Civ5 this week… I’m going to have to start playing rush games in order to churn out those achievements soon enough, instead of having my hang-up of wanting to play the game to the Information Era and making my victory there. On the plus side, I managed to get my first culture victory since I got the Brave New World expansion, simply by getting influential with a couple of civs, and completely destroying the rest. It’s a kind of a macabre version of tourism: “LOVE ME OR BE OBLITERATED!”

So, on topic with the title above, I got to dress up in the store’s mascot costume over the weekend, in an attempt to raise money for charity. While it was incredibly successful and raised a lot of money for charity, I once again observed some interesting things about different customers and passers-by.

Firstly, the most generous people seemed to be older people and parents with young children – the latter mainly because of parents teaching their children about charity, and the fact that the kids just wanted to dance with the big mascot. Despite that, I still waved and danced at people of all ages, as well as people driving past in their vehicles going past the store, just to see the different kinds of reactions – who doesn’t like making a pretty girl smile anyway?

But the thing that surprised me the most, and continues to surprise me? The fact that I was waving at strangers and DANCING out in public. Whenever people tell me to do a little jig, even among friends, I always say that you have to get alcohol in me for my inhibitions to falter for me to dance. I’m willing to admit I’m pretty socially awkward at first, and that it takes a while to come out of my shell and be comfortable. However here I was, dressed up in a mascot costume, doing things completely uncharacteristic to my nature. I’ve dressed up in it plenty of times before at my old store, and the same results happened – colleagues have mentioned to me that it’s almost like it’s a different person inside the costume compared to when I’m outside.

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So it got me thinking about how much people can potentially change when they’re hidden behind a mask. We see it all the time online – in places such as Call of Duty, the MOBA genre in general, and even in WoW in LFD and LFR we see people all the time that you have to sit back sometimes and wonder “Are they really like that in real life?” If they are, then I do feel sorry for them, but if not then it begs the question: Why does that anonymous mask turn somebody into something completely different to how they are in real life society?

I have to admit, among friends online I do try to stay true to myself, mainly because half of them have my Facebook or Twitter details and would easily catch me out otherwise. People in real life know I’m a geek that has played an unhealthy amount of WoW over the past decade. It’s only in this mascot suit that I’ve really been different to how I am normally, and I feel that’s mainly because I’m in a silly suit, why not be silly at the same time? I’m hidden behind a mask so I can’t embarrass myself too much, and I’m collecting for a good cause at the same time. By all means, I don’t become an asshole like in the examples above of the online anonymity, hell even in those circumstances where I queue solo for those games or parts of games, I don’t become an ass. I know that most of the time, people won’t be able to trace my name back to me, but I certainly don’t feel like I’m any different in solo queues to how I am when gaming with friends.

So what’s the science behind the anonymity clause? Do you guys feel that you act different when you know that actions you make can’t be traced back to you as a person in society? Do you try to separate your online life from your real life so that you can get away with releasing any built up tension to random strangers on the internet?

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