Monday, 13 June 2011
Is ANONYMOUS on to something?
In an age of media like ours it becomes harder and harder to tell what forces are real and active and what is for show. Anonymous is probably the most confusing agent in the current environment.
There can be not question that a great deal of what is presenting itself as ANONYMOUS is in fact just kids making videos. There is also no doubt that some people calling themselves Anonymous have carried out real hacking attacks on targets.
But how much influence does Anonymous as group have on emerging protest movements calling for change? Is it even productive to think of Anonymous as a group or a collaborative identity?
Anonymous, in our opinion, is best imagined as a collective identity adopted by people who most likely are unaware of each other. But we find the style, images, and rhetoric of Anonymous as itself limited. The present form of the group took greatest shape in conflicts with Scientology. Making fun of Scientology demanded a silly style, one that ridiculed the silly authoritarian style of a isolated cult obsessed with Hollywood, secrecy and self importance.
But the current global movement seeking to use the Internet as a tool of liberation has grown beyond the mythology of V is for Vendetta. The mask, the suit without a head, the announcements with altered voices, and the dramatic declarations are suffering from their own silliness. The movements from Tahrir to Toronto need a more grown up and hopeful voice.
Perhaps future generations will remember Anonymous as a ugly silly system of icons that grew out of an ugly silly time in history. But if the current global effort to extend democracy and personal development has some hope it needs richer mythology than Anonymous can be mined for.