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What was it George? Birdwatching?


George McFly is watching Loraine McFly.

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I’ve been bothered lately by the idea of anonymity. Why is it that I can’t read something on the internet or listen to music without Facebook telling everyone I know about it, but I can spend three hours on an airplane farting and no one is the wiser?


Hey Kevin! I saved you a seat, buddy!


Oh, but they are the wiser; they just don’t know it was me. I was on a plane recently when someone kept tearing ’em off. Planes are loud, so you can’t hear it. Plus I wear abnormally large headphones.


“How can I wear my two favorite chromatically-divergent shirts at the same time?” 


So, instead of hearing (which is the best part of a fart, by the way) someone let off gas (I wasn’t allowed to say fart when I was little), I just got olfactorilly punched in the face every 5 minutes. And the problem with planes is that they are essentially a cylindrical hotbox. The smell isn’t going anywhere. You just absorb it until you are half the man you were when you boarded the flight.


Why are my airplane pillows never that big?


Every plane-tooter believes, “I can fluff on the plane. It’s full of people. No one will know it was me. Plus, it already smells like 1973 in here, it’s not going to hurt anyone.” Then, they “anonymously” let one go.


And therein lies my problem with anonymity. Even if nobody knows who did it, someone is still affected. The myth of anonymity is that if we aren’t identified, there are no consequences. Now, I’m not speaking of anonymous gifts (unless you count mid-flight fluffernagles as a gift). Anonymity is great when you are donating a kidney to an orphanage (that happens, right?). I’m speaking of anonymity in terms of doing things to which we would never admit. It creates in us a false sense of safety that we aren’t hurting anyone.


Much more distressing than anonymous plane-foofs is pornography. One of the myths of pornography is that we are not hurting anyone by watching. For couples, however, the effects of pornography are often catastrophic. A large number of female clients have told me that their spouse viewing pornography feels like cheating. What one spouse thought was anonymous browsing seems to the other like an extra-marital affair.


Even if it’s not pornography, or even if we aren’t in a relationship, anonymity leads us to think we can live two separate lives; the Facebook life everyone knows about and the one nobody sees. Maybe we should live a little more like everything we do will be posted on Facebook. Stop believing the myth of anonymity. Nothing anonymous is ever anonymous. Every action and decision has repercussions.


…Or maybe not?


Be more integritous (yes, I know that is not a word). Remember, Facebook is watching.


Rob Porter, Ph.D., LMFT

Marriage and Family Counselor, Austin TX

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