Last week, billionaire NBA team owner and star of TV’s Shark Tank Mark Cuban urged social-media giants Twitter and Facebook to verify that behind every one of their accounts lurked “a real name and real person”:
It’s time for @twitter to confirm a real name and real person behind every account, and for @facebook to to [sic] get far more stringent on the same. I don’t care what the user name is. But there needs to be a single human behind every individual account ….
Dear @jack , if @twitter were to eliminate bots and accounts individuals won’t put their real names behind, your revenues and user base and usage would skyrocket as a result of users and advertisers feeling safer on the platform
But would usage actually “skyrocket” if people had to use their real names in all their tweets and Facebook posts? If you were forced to use your real name in all online comments sections—rather than, you know, “Tiberius FashWave3000”—would your comments be any different? Would you comment at all?
After the glorious and undeniably hilarious election of my towheaded homeboy Donald J. Trump, a common lament among his eternally dyspeptic naysayers went something along the lines of, “I don’t want to live in a country where Muslims and Mexicans have to worry about being attacked by mobs of toothless racist rednecks.”
Well, good luck with that goal, hon, although I don’t think you need much luck. I don’t think that would have been a likely scenario, anyway, despite your wildest fantasies and most depraved yearnings. Those toothless racist rednecks don’t care about you, or even think about you, nearly as much as you would seem to like.
Here’s my dream: I don’t want to live in a country with a reigning moral code that extends blanket sympathy to Muslims and Mexicans but has nothing but scorn for “toothless racist rednecks.”
And what’s more significant, I don’t want to live in a country where people have to constantly bite their lips and suppress their opinions for fear of having their lives destroyed.
Now listen here, ye anonymous humble traveler who enters the online arena behind a shield of anonymity, I realize why people use screen names online—at the moment, we live in a culture where you can lose your job and face permanent social ostracism merely for expressing opinions that were mainstream even—fuck—ten years ago? A decade ago, nearly everyone except trannies and their fag-hag apparatchiks seemed to think that trannies were mentally ill freaks; these days, even the term “mentally ill freaks” may set a tranny torch mob headed your way.
I don’t want to live in that type of country.
A long time ago in an America that has since died, there were these things called “newspapers.” They often featured columns known as “Letters to the Editor,” wherein local yokels grabbed either a golf pencil or a typewriter and wrote out a message that they felt carried tremendous political and civic import. And even though the letters often contained controversial opinions, people seemed to sign their own names—and sometimes even their street address.
Nowadays they’ll leave an anonymous online comment wishing that your mother had aborted you.
There’s a poli-sci theory known as the “Spiral of Silence,” which says that since most individuals fear social ostracism, they will generally keep quiet if they hold a minority opinion.
Now, in a comments section such as the one under the articles on this website, most people generally agree about the larger issues, but nearly all of you use pseudonyms—and I will assume you do this because you realize that when contrasted to the world at large, you hold minority opinions—or at least ones that go against what the media depict as majority opinions—and you may risk life and limb for being associated with those opinions. Somewhere there’s a preacher or a teacher or a judge or a spinster willing to wreck your life for being so morally leprous as to dare disagreeing with them about anything.
Trust me, from personal experience spanning a quarter-century, I know how vengeful, psychotic, merciless, bloodthirsty, and sadistic some of these people can be—and those are the nice ones.
But merely to keep the peace, is it better to bite your lip and let these assholes be the assholes they’re gonna be, anyway? I mean, you know the saying—assholes gonna asshole. And with their real identity warmly entombed beneath a wacky screen name, you can bet your sweet bippy they’re gonna be the best asshole they can properly be.
I realize that any loss of online anonymity is a loss of privacy that results in every government worker, every corporate whore, and every pervert hacker from here to Timbuktu having way more of your personal information than you ever wanted them to have. I realize that hackers wouldn’t be able to leak so much information on the powers that be as they currently do, at least keeping them 1% honest.