Standing behind your words…with your real name @jeffjarvis .

As you can see on my earlier post about my newest vidcast, I had to ban someone for being, well, basically an ass. I have heard so much of the typical hard talk from people when I am chatting about sexism. It’s as though they think my examination of the issue means I have never been around any sort of realistic “hard” situation. Of course, that’s not true by any means, but it is fascinating how trolls find ways of filling in the blanks with something they are convinced is true. The truth is we all do it with people we come across, either online or in real life. I have done it with my co-workers at Massively and online friends. I picture exactly how they might look or move, even though I might have heard them on a podcast or have seen their picture.

In Jeff Jarvis‘ book Public Parts (I recommend it for any “sharer”) he talks about the pros and cons of living publicly, meaning as someone who uses their real identity all over Twitter, Facebook and other social media. I was asked to move from my “stage name” Beau Turkey (one that I had used for many, many years in bands) to my real name, Beau Hindman, when I started to work for Massively. (Ask AOL.)

It was actually very liberating for me. Although I had already told people the city I lived in, shot video and recorded audio podcasts and had been sharing online in a public way for a long time, adding my real last name to the equation freed me. I am one of those people who thinks that sharing is good because great rewards come with the risks. (I’ll cover the rewards and risks sometime.)

I really wish people would do the same, especially commenters. I have no problems banning someone, even if they just irk me. While many people would say that it isn’t fair to do that to someone unless they are practically to the point of threatening my life, I disagree. This is my blog, my party. If I don’t like you, you’re getting kicked out, period. Don’t worry…there are billions of people left in the world who might stumble into this party — I’ll be fine.

One of the best quotes from the book is “I tell commenters that I will respect what they have to say more if they have the guts to stand behind their words with their names, as I do.”

I’m not saying I do NOT respect anyone who does not use their real name, (wait, is that like a quad negative…editor!!) but it is hard for me to understand why someone would not want to. Read the book if you want some good evidence for (and some against) living publicly. There’s actually quite a bit of safety built into living publicly.

My point is to imagine how much different online behavior would be if people HAD to disclose their real names, at least. There would be some good and some bad, of course, but in my heart of hearts I imagine the good greatly outweighing the bad. We’ve had this discussion before (the Blizzard real-life naming drama, something Jarvis comments on in the book) but your real-life info is out there right now, anyway. Just Google yourself…do some searching. I’d be surprised if you didn’t at least find your home address.

Now Google your common screen name/s. You’d probably be surprised at that, as well. Now imagine how easy it can be (and it is) to find information about you just from becoming your internet buddy, getting on your good side and being added to your Facebook. His book mentions a Google higher-up who talks about people performing self-sabotage by sharing their info online through social media.

In other words, if you are reading this right now, you probably already have a footprint online that would not be hard to trace. In fact, you have already given me your IP address and other information.

I would love it if people at least used their real first names. I follow people on Twitter and have online friends who I honestly can’t remember from one day to the next. They change their pics all the time from a kitten to a cartoon, and their name is a mixup of different popular Anime characters. Sorry, but I get people mixed up constantly, and I’d rather not.

Anyway, trolls will never use their names, but I imagine soon enough it will be against the law (in some way) to even troll. Trust me…the internet will soon be measured as real life. If you threaten me in real life, you CAN get in trouble (depending, of course.) Soon, if you troll me on my blog I might have the ability to report your IP and get you banned from your ISP. Who knows? That might be a horrible thing, but it might change some of the worst behaviors as well.

Anyway, time for tea.




Author: Beau Hindman

I write for a living, which means that I sit around in my PJs all day. I love it.