Maybe the price is too high

This is going to be far shorter and less researched than it needs to be but I have real life intervening today and I want to get this out there. The rise of fake news and the sheer ugliness of digital interactions has made me think that maybe we need less privacy on the internet. We already know that companies track everything we do, that we are targeted, marketed to in a way wholly impossible to folks nearing their golden years. We also know that our government has an unprecedented ability to surveil us, especially when telecom giants so easily comply with their wishes to dip into our online activity.

While that certainly takes away our anonymity to people with a lot of money/influence/power, it really does nothing to expose us to each other. While google might be able to track down who you are, what you do, and where you live, I don’t think I could with any assurance. And that might be the problem.

The condition of anonymity on the web today needs to be flipped on its head. We should have greater privacy in our viewing habits, companies and the government shouldn’t be able to dip into our digital lives at will. They can’t set cameras up inside our house to keep tabs on us, they shouldn’t be able to do the equivalent with our web browsers.

However, we need less anonymity when we choose to interact with people. Instead of some stupid handle and hip avatar when we comment on a news article, we should probably have an actual picture and our name. And if/when people cross the line there should be repercussions, including the involvement of law enforcement if the case warrants it. It seems the anonymity of the internet has become too intoxicating for people to engage in the uglier side of our natures, whether out of honest convictions or just the desire to stir the pot and be a bit of a horse’s rear. And when someone is unwilling to put their name and face to something, maybe that should tell us something, too.

How would a system that required/enforced this be put into place? I’m not sure, and frankly it’s not something that’s in my ballpark to tease out. But maybe it’s time we give up on this notion of anonymity that doesn’t really exist anyway, and embrace a digital world where we are forced to look at and acknowledge each other as people rather than an avatar.

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