Yesterday over 3,000 members of Anonymous showed up in Sony retail outlets around the world. Their stated intent was to raise awareness about how they could not run Linux on a Playstation, a feature Sony has removed due to problems with piracy. Their complaint only helped salesman bring attention to new features in Sony products. Meanwhile, customers mocked and teased “Anons” so deeply that the shame even penetrated their wicked Guy Fawkes masks from V for Vendetta. These “boycotts” were a free publicity gift from Anonymous to Sony that actually increased sales.
This is part of a disturbing new trend for Anonymous, which seems to be increasingly ready to self-destruct all over the wrong targets. After siding with the freedom of speech during the WikiLeaks cablegate crisis, Anonymous has been unable to find an equally righteous cause. Sony has done no wrong that their customers can even understand. Failing to see this fact time and time again, the “hyper-conscious” Anonymous has acted out their own “We do not forgive” mantra until it’s turned into real-life public humiliation.
Completely unable to recognize the views of the outside world, the ever more cult-like Anonymous is left to grapple with its internal power structures. The respect that leaders within “Operation” Payback gained from attacking Mastercard, Paypal, and Visa in defense of Julian Assange has been used to turn a one-off “operation” into several months of humiliating failures. The creators of “Operation” Payback are simply choosing targets to keep their peons interested. As Anonymous continues to claim that they have no leaders, the world wonders why they’re acting like they do. The leaders of “Operation” Payback are coercing actions out of Anonymous.
Anonymous claims to be self-critical and self-correcting. Anonymous claims to have no leadership. Yet any criticism of leadership within Anonymous leads to excommunication. They will say “it cannot possibly happen, because we are anarchic.” This naive idea is encoded into the culture. To criticize the individuals who do clearly lead will often result in Anons making the equivalent of an argument for divine right. They have taken the reins of Anarchy, so they deserve their power. Quite wrongly, Anons often refer to this idea as meritocracy.
Another tactic to deflect attention from the growth of the cult leader class are the “democratic” mechanisms within Anonymous. Anyone who has witnessed a vote in action can not help but wonder: How is it that a group of around fifty voters represents the hundreds or thousands that it takes to carry out protests and attacks? It is fairly obvious that the cult leaders of Anonymous use democracy only as a show to maintain a positive identity.
Anonymous isn’t anarchy.
Anonymous isn’t meritocracy.
Anonymous isn’t democracy.
Anonymous is cult.