Pros And Cons Of An Anonymous Chat Room
Updated November 20, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Fawley
If you could say whatever you wanted to without fear of judgment, would you reveal everything that's on your mind, good or bad? There's something incredibly freeing about casting away your doubts and cares when you feel like you can say whatever you want without worrying about repercussions. Being anonymous offers you that sense of freedom while allowing you to maintain your privacy.
Anonymous chat rooms may provide a forum to blow off some steam, vent, or even satisfy curiosity. But, is this anonymity truly helpful? There are a few important elements of using anonymous online formats to consider.
Anonymity vs. Privacy
The terms anonymity and privacy are sometimes interrelated, but they are not necessarily equal. Each term has a distinct definition. Privacy refers to those who make their identities known while keeping some of their actions and information secret. Anonymity means showing others the type of person you are and the things that you do without revealing your identity. It's also important to recognize that rights to anonymity and privacy come with real and perceived responsibilities. This is where the rubber meets the road regarding the pros and cons of anonymous chat rooms.
The Value of Being Anonymous
Over time, your values and life experiences shape the person that you've become. Those experiences have helped you develop your core values, form your opinions, set your comfort levels, and determine the course of your life. You can choose to share these things yourself anonymously online to give you the opportunity to connect with strangers. Being anonymous can also give you more control over how you manage your time, as others don't know how to get in contact with you without your consent.
A Chat Room Can Broaden Your World
You may have limited opportunities to travel the world or experience a lifestyle that's different than your own. Participating in a chat allows you to have some of those opportunities, vicariously, through meeting others from around the globe. There is an opportunity to explore other parts of the world and their cultures within the safety and privacy of your own home.
Convenience Gives You Control Over Time Management
Being able to communicate in real-time is a valuable opportunity for someone who multitasks. Are you one of those people who pulls up multiple tabs every time you open your laptop? An online radio station plays your favorite tunes in one window while you are furiously typing away on a Word document for an upcoming homework assignment in another window? Meanwhile, notifications pop up that the shoes you wanted just went on sale. Another box appears to let you know that a dozen more emails just came in. While bouncing back and forth between screens, you're catching up with all your online pals since you've been offline.
If you relate to the above, you may feel that your life is too busy to talk on the phone or meet a friend, but you can easily multi-task and fit a quick chat into your hectic days.
The Downside of Being Anonymous
Fast and Succinct
How will the cyber universe read your words once they are visible for the online world to see? Your words have less meaning without the benefit of your tone and inflection, which makes them subject to misinterpretation. You may have the opportunity to clarify later if you fear you've been misunderstood, but keep in mind that what goes on the internet stays on the internet.
The Trouble with Abbreviations and Emoticons
Do you know the meanings of the latest texting abbreviations and emoticons? You might be a little embarrassed if you think you are sending "lots of love" with a LOL message to someone going through a rough time when they read the meaning as "laugh out loud." The same goes for double-checking the meanings of emoticons, which can also be easily misinterpreted. Many devices incorporate auto-correct as a timesaving device, but that can also get you into trouble if you neglect to correct the auto-correct before you hit send.
Is Staying True to Your Character Important to You?
Sure, you can say whatever you want to someone else under the guise of anonymity, but do you want to? It's easy enough to be a "keyboard warrior" and tell someone off or call them names when you don't have to face them directly. These are the times when you come face-to-face with who you are as a person. Are you okay with knowing that your words may have hurt someone intentionally or unintentionally? It is important to remember that there is still a live person on the other end of online communications. "Netiquette" refers to online etiquette - the rules we should follow to ensure a society in which people (ourselves included) can be treated with politeness and respect. For example, you should not type something hurtful to someone that you normally wouldn't dare say to their face in person.
Impact of Social Skills Is an Unintended Consequence
Social skills don't come naturally for everyone, and if you lack in that area, to begin with, spending too much time in online chat rooms can inhibit your social skills in real-life interactions. It's great if you can express yourself in an anonymous chat room, but if you can't carry on a face-to-face conversation, it's better to spend less time in the chat rooms.
Suspicious and Unscrupulous Characters Lurk in Chat Rooms
It's always interesting to read the screen names of anonymous chatters. Some screen names have an apparent meaning or relevance. However, when everyone wears a mask, it's hard to know exactly who spends time in chat rooms, and you can't tell if their motivations are kind or malicious.
Advances in the way we communicate have led to the need for some new terminology.
- "Catfishers" are people who fake their names and change their social media profiles to appear as an entirely different person for the purpose of luring someone into a relationship.
- Bullies are present in anonymous chat rooms because they can abuse others often with little or no accountability. They are sometimes referred to as "trolls."
- Pedophiles and sexual predators have no online boundaries. They can be anywhere, masked as anyone, and an anonymous chat room is no exception.
The Cost of Convenience and Time Management
Busy people like to squeeze as much into a day as they can. Multitasking is a great way to do that, but sometimes not giving a task your full attention has consequences. Since it takes very little time to send or receive a response via chat, delays in sending responses can send a message to chat friends that they aren't a priority. Online relationships can be complicated too. Being anonymous means that you are at the mercy of when others decide to join you in the anonymous chat room, as well. You might find yourself feeling lonely or impatient while waiting for others to engage with you at their own convenience.
Chat Rooms Are Addictive
Anonymous chat rooms are a great way to connect with others unless they become too much of a good thing. If your work, homework, or life responsibilities are suffering because you can't tear yourself away from the internet, you may need treatment for internet addiction.
Technology Is Great When it Works
Have you ever been online when everything went dark mid-sentence? Technology only helps you when it works well. You could have a problem with your computer or the server, or a virus could shut down your entire system. Even when all your hardware and software are working seamlessly, the weather or other outside forces can shut you down in a heartbeat. Our society has become very dependent on technology. Similar to the problem of internet addiction, it is important to be aware that it is healthy to step away and balance other activities in your life as well.
Anonymity Equals Safety is a Perception
You should be regularly and actively practicing safe online chatting habits. Using an anonymous name doesn't necessarily protect your identity. Spammers and hackers are lurking everywhere in cyberspace. One of the most salacious scandals happened in 2015 when a group called The Impact Team hacked into an affair site called Ashley Madison, publicly exposing the names of celebrities, government officials, and others who had profiles on the site. Many of the users gave false identities to protect their privacy when registering their profiles. Many of the site members' true identities became public, much to the embarrassment of their spouses or significant others. The breach is allegedly connected to two suicides of people who took their lives because of the shame over their exposure. The Ashley Madison Scandal speaks clearly to the notion that no one is ever completely anonymous in the cyber world.
Have you participated in an anonymous chat that caused you undue trauma or emotional pain? Are you worried that you've developed an addiction to the internet? Are you feeling less able to connect with people offline? Licensed therapists are also available via the Internet for tech-minded people. Your sessions are safe, secure, and completely confidential. Online therapists are familiar with addictions and other mental health problems caused by advancements in today's technology or from any other source. Look for your online therapist at BetterHelp, and read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing different communication issues.
"Holly responds to my messages as soon as she can, she lets me know if she is going to take a longer time but will always reply. She is easy to talk to, I find myself able to open up to her very quickly, not just because of the anonymity but she really listens to what I've said and just seems to get it! Holly has identified areas we can work on together and also given me some simple worksheets to help me work through some of the difficulties I'm having."
"Lesa is wonderful, very relatable, and easy to talk to. Sometimes people can be intimidating, especially when talking about private matters, she is not in the slightest. Would recommend!"
Online chat rooms can provide a helpful source of community for people. This should be in addition to real-world interactions. For many people, online chats provide information and even insight. For others, cyberbullying has shown to have extremely destructive effects. Meaningful connections can be made in this format-just remember to proceed with netiquette.