Is there happiness in being unGoogleable?

Bands such as !!! (yes, that's its name) strive to be cool by being anonymous. Might the recent NSA revelations spur us to withdraw from the Web? And would being unGoogleable make you happy?

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Would you like to disappear?

No, I am not threatening you. I am merely wondering whether you might be happier to be anonymous, private, tucked away so that random entities cannot find you.

Of course, I am moved to this suggestion by the avalanche of debate following the revelations from Snowdenia that have rendered idealists and libertarians simultaneously insensate.

You mean everyone can view everything we do? Even governments? Even Russian governments?

This seems to be the case. Which is why those who like to be meta before there's even a norm are striking out by hiding from the Web's sticky allure.

The Guardian offers that terribly cool bands are going (Google-)underground by having names such as !!!, Merchandise, and Google-Me-And-I'll-Send-The Albanian Mafia-To-Your-House.

Actually, I might have made that last one up.

Still, cool is one thing. It might make you feel like Howard Hughes or Thomas Pynchon. It might make you believe that you are now your deepest, truest self -- artistically, at least.

But would Internet anonymity ultimately bring you happiness? Would ceasing to friend, like, tweet, poke, and post fill you with a relief you last experienced when a nice policeman forgave you for running into a neighbor's hedge in your Honda Civic?

The positive would surely lie in being able to do things without (hopefully) anyone knowing.

The problem is that such behavior now seems unnatural to so many. If no one knows (and can comment on and like) your visit to see the Punk exhibition at the Met, did it ever really happen?

Did you really experience it, or was it some mere figment of your innards that led you to believe you walked up the steps, entered, and wandered about the exhibition rooms, unburdened and untweeting?

Worse, if you disappear, your friends will not. They will begin to believe that you are, well, dead. You will exist in some compartment of their mind reserved for those who somehow lost their way in life and therefore lost their life.

They won't give you a second thought, because they'll be unable to give you a first one. First thoughts always come via the Web.

When most of your daily interactions are with people you rarely (if ever) see, it's so much easier for them to dismiss the idea that you exist at all.

You are, in many ways, just a name and a number.

You will say, like those who have been unjustly jailed or divorced: "Now I'll find out who my real friends are."

That might offer a few surprises. And blanks.

The ultimate joy, of course, would lie in being able to have truly personal communication with the few (or even many) who like you simply for who you are.

It will lie in the belief that you are being so very cool by being so very anonymous.

This will work for a few.

But too many people are now such uncontrollable narcissists who, unless the anonymity provides them with concomitant public acclamation ("I am now famous for being anonymous!" "I have finally become a mystery!"), will probably wither into torpor or crawl back to the bosom of the mass.

Just imagine if the only way you could meet people and communicate with them was to be with them physically.

We wouldn't be able to cope, would we?

 

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