There are 845 million active users on facebook.
There are 500 million twitter accounts.
There are 100 million users on Google+.
Of all those people only one is Swizec.
Three other profiles do show up when searching for "Swizec", but they don't have the account name registered. Nor the domain name.
In Slovenia, there are 2 million people. Out of them 4121 people share my real first name, my surname, 298. The combination happens to be unique ... for now.
There are 7 billion people in the world.
Less than half of those are currently online - the figure is rapidly changing in favor of the whole world being connected. When all those people come online, what do you think will provide better anonymity? Real names or nicknames?
Even today, if you want to be anonymous online, just use your real name.
A real name might not hide you from your friends, neither would a nickname, but you will be damn well hidden from a cursory inspection by a potential employer or whomever might want to find those drunken pictures from last night. Googling facebook fired throws out lots of interesting results ...
Nicknames are real
Me, I have nowhere to hide. My nickname is the same everywhere.
People have used nicknames since forever. It creates a friendly atmosphere, it's a sign of trust, of not being strangers. A police officer calls you by your name, a friend calls you by something personal. Perhaps a name that grows and evolves as you do - a concept native americans were very familiar with according to all those novels I read as a kid.
But the latest trend in online identities is Real Names (tm). Because nicknames are somehow ... bad. Even Twitter, the last bastion of proper nicknames, has bowed to pressure and started exposing Real Names as the primary identifier both on twitter.com and its mobile apps.
Perhaps a ploy to tie "real world" identities to their "online" counterparts in a desperate attempt to sell you ever more crap. Or maybe it's got something to do with the occult idea that there is power in real names, that calling someone by their real name compels them to do what you want.
Whatever it is, it's annoying ... sooner or later the online world will become as anonymous as its physical counterpart and it will no longer be possible to waltz into a social network and for someone to go "Heeey, you're Swizec! Oh man, I remember you from X, how are ya old bastard?"
I'm going to miss that.
- Who Will Win the Race to Build the Web's Best Real-Name Identity Service? (readwriteweb.com)
- Facebook Plugin a Fix for Anonymous Comments (sixestate.com)
- Two Months Removed From AddressGate, Path Starts Hashing, Anonymizing Data (techcrunch.com)
- Anonymous Comments: The Bane of Online News? (sixestate.com)
- New story commenting platform coming to The Record (troyrecord.com)
- Chinese govt threatens to ban microbloggers not using their real names by March 16 (buzzom.com)
- Google+ Relaxes 'Real Name' Policy, But Might Make You Provide Proof Of Your Nickname (forbes.com)
Learned something new?
Read more Software Engineering Lessons from Production
I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.
Subscribe below 👇
Software Engineering Lessons from Production
Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.
"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"
Senior Mindset Book
Get promoted, earn a bigger salary, work for top companiesLearn more
Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.
Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.
Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.
Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev
Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization
Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog
By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️