Why did we sacrifice our anonymity?

Throwback to a thoughtful essay from Justin Tadlock over at WP Tavern:

“We handed over our names. And, once we handed over our names, it was a slippery slope to handing over everything else about ourselves. If you dig deep enough you can find the names of all my cats and when they were all born.”

The Evolution of Anonymity in the Internet Age

I’m a fairly open person on the web, but sometimes I miss the anonymity of the 90’s and early 00’s. It was a unique mix of trust and distrust.

We could be more open with strangers, because we had a veil of anonymity to shield ourselves; but we also had a healthy dose of suspicion about everything we saw and read, because you don’t trust everything you see on the internet.

The mainstream social media platforms that brought more people online asked for us to share our real identities, and treated moderation as an afterthought. A total reverse of what older online communities preached: don’t disclose personal information, and respect the rules.

Where will we be ten, twenty years from now? My expectation (and hope) is that the pendulum will swing back to smaller, more niche communities and platforms; “dark social” with varying degrees of real identity versus anonymity, depending on the place. I guess we just have to wait and see.

The journey is the point.

“I’d submit that this emotional journey is one that transcends goodness or greatness or even a so-called mediocre project; I’ve experienced this lifecycle for projects that ended up entirely sucking from end-to-end! But the point is clearly the journey.”

john saddington

I’ve followed John’s work off and on for years, starting with 8BIT and the Standard theme, one of the greatest ever WordPress themes for indie publishers (IMO).

John is now off and running with a new project, YEN.IO, and once again our universes overlap: He’s sharing his journey of building a business around the community space through YouTube and his newsletter (the latter running through Substack).