Monday, May 1, 2017

Extra Credit: Omegle is an Anonymous Haven

We're going to take a little journey back to my middle school days, and how I spent my free time with my friends. Let me set the scene here...sleepover + late night shenanigans + 14 year old angsty teens = recipe for disaster. Our weapon of choice? Omegle. The king of all anonymous activity definitely thrusted our tender eyes and innocent minds into the real world, and I'm not sure how ready for it we actually were.

In case it's not known, Omegle is a website that allows users to video chat with each other. An individual can skip through until they find someone they want to talk to. This is quite fun, and it's easy to meet a lot of interesting and diverse individuals. However, a major drawback is that you never know what is going to pop up in that webcam box. It could be a friendly face or a certain body part none of us wanted to see (teenage screams were definitely wailed when this happened). All in all, Omegle was just a fun, entertaining way to pass the time when you're a curious, rambunctious teenager.

The anonymous aspect proved to be highly controversial. Since the video chatting is completely random and no name is given. The identity of an individual will stay completely hidden unless they decide to tell you who they are. For this reason, Omegle is a great example of "real name" culture because the users can hide behind a fake name and can basically say or be anything they want; creating an alter ego through a webcam.

Even though these users are not "hackers" they can still be classified as being highly anonymous. They aren't being held accountable for any of their actions, and can get away with quite a bit (some of these actions still make me cringe). For example, my friend Ciera and I convinced these two guys that we were British. Accents full blown, these suckers were completely grabbed by our hook that was baited with stories of living by Big Ben and drinking tea on the daily. Even though completely false, it was so easy to live the life of another person because of how anonymous we remained. This just goes to prove how easy it is to hide behind the identity of someone else. Omegle, no matter how insignificant it is now, taught me and my friends how remaining anonymous can be fun and liberating, but precautions should always be taken.

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