The ability to remain anonymous allows one to speak or act within their own desires, whether those wants are harmful or not. This can be very obviously seen on forums created on the internet and any situation where anonymous comments can be input. This proclivity to anonymity has now manifested itself in one of the most idiotic ways imaginable, people dressing up as clowns with the intent to scare people.
I find it hard to understand the allure behind the act of putting on a mask and waiting on the side of the road as the instigators of this trend did. What began as a single prank soon spiraled into a viral sensation, spreading from city to city within the United States. As soon as fear was instilled within users of social media, it became simple for anyone to join in the act of scaring others.
Around the country there have been released mentions of clowns in residential areas as well as additional sightings of clowns on college campuses, some even eliciting a student-wide march to find clowns. The simple non-violent scare tactics used by these clowns have expanded to threats given out on the internet. Various schools around the United States, mostly high schools but some elementary schools, have received threats of shootings by anonymous clown accounts. These are in few instances but add to the fear being spread by those who continue to dress up.
Standing around on a corner by the road is not a crime by any means, and police officers can do very little in the way of stopping someone from doing it. The main problem, however, lies in the differed perception of the gravity of the issue between the person pranking and the person simply walking past. The person behind the mask may believe that they are simply frightening someone slightly, that it is a small joke and nothing to really worry about whereas the person encountering the clown may fear for their life.
The kind of retaliation that someone exhibits when in fear of their own life can result in fatal consequences for the source of the fear and this clown trend is more likely than not going to end incredibly badly for someone. As the commotion settles down and the people doing this realize that they are a part of a short lived fad, hopefully we will all be able to walk around without having to think about running into a masked jokester.