August 15th, 2011

red panda eating bamboo

The real name artificial reality bubble

Kee Hinckley on Google+ (public, so visible to people who aren't members) discusses the real difference between social networks where real names are required and those where names are up to the individuals.

https://plus.google.com/117903011098040166012/posts/Ax8tyxVMa5w

Excerpt (emphasis mine):
When you create a social networking site that requires real names, you create an artificial bubble. What you see is just the nice things in people's lives, you don't see what's really happening. But when people have control over who knows their name, they still talk about cute cats and the latest iPhone and what kind of wine they drank last night, but they also talk about other things. They talk about dealing with their parent's Alzheimer's. They talk about how their daughter was missing for three days and got drugged and raped and the police refused to follow up. They talk about how they just lost their job and they're worried that they'll end up on the street. They talk about how their boss will fire them if he finds out they're gay. They talk about how they were sexually abused as a kid. They talk about what it's like to live in a country where bloggers get thrown in prison. People don't dare talk about those things with their birth names; not when Google is indexing everything they say.
...
The sad thing is, if you're dealing with something difficult in your life, that bubble also makes you think you're alone. You think you're the only one, because nobody else is talking about how they're going to pay for their parents nursing care, or how hard it is to juggle work and family.
This is quite true in my experience. I see a lot more of people's real lives on DW and LJ than on Facebook.

A commenter on the original post disagreed and said that it's fine for you to not use your real name on G+, you just have to use an ordinary sounding name, not what he called a "fantasy name." This isn't true as far as I can ascertain, but it makes me want to play a game with G+ where thousands of us all join under the same ordinary sounding name ("John Smith," if we use the typical ordinary sounding name of my culture).

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/737583.html, where there are comments.