There’s a new danger out there: anonymity. As America’s population moves towards dense metropolitan areas, the faces all seem to blur. In fact, millions of people become just a number, and anyone of them can fall through the cracks. A person can hide as much as they want to, and no one is ever going to strike up a conversation with them in line at Starbucks. Essentially, they cease to exist.
From there they lose their sense of person. They know that person behind them in line getting coffee really doesn’t care about them. They don’t know them. How could they? Why would they care? They are just a random person upon millions that all look the same.
Actions don’t have consequences when you don’t exist. These folks then become criminals, pedophiles, and even suicidal. Their life is just a number, and so will their actions be.
The internet has made this even easier. People can disappear into an alternate reality. They can be who they want to be. They can fill their mind with whatever they choose. They can hide behind a computer and make decisions they could not complete in actuality. Don’t believe this? Watch an episode of How to Catch a Predator.
When individualism becomes collectivism, the person becomes the people. They no longer have attention on them, so they fade into the numbers. It’s not popular to say, but peer pressure has some very positive effects. In the days of smaller communities, certain actions were frowned upon, and the sheer notability of them occurring was a huge deterrent.
Where there are smaller populations things get noticed. The town drunk is identified and reacted to by the community. The family struggling is seen in need and helped. The loner is reached out to. Individuals innately create community and look out for each other. Once community fades, those individuals’ needs become transparent as they disappear.
The Art of Manliness, an online publication, recently wrote a series on honor in men. In one installment they address how, in older societies, individualism creates the need for responsibility. A man had a name, a reputation, and had to stand by their decisions. This gave the need for men to put great care into their actions. This culture bred some of the greatest heroes in the history of the world.
How many heroes will be bred from Facebook and anonymous chatrooms? How much potential will be lost through the cracks when people become just a number? Personal responsibility is becoming a thing of the past as collectivism takes over. The media now blames crimes and tragedies on children’s childhoods or on the television they watched. The individual’s actions are gone as society is blamed as a whole.
Unfortunately not a lot can be done about this. The great migration is occurring globalization pushes for collectivist societies. As an individual though you can protect your own individualism. Get off Facebook and interact. Think about your actions and decide if you would do them or say them if it wasn’t a website or text message. Go out and be involved in your community. Be seen and create a name you can stand on. Look for those in need and pull them out of the shadows. It may not just be their life you’re saving.