Anonymity and Social Growth: Blockchain's New Proposal

in socialmedia •  last year 

Me Me Me


Social-media isn’t healthy, and we’ve all come to understand this over the last decade as apps including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more have established a monopoly over our attention and relationships. For all that it offers us, there is an underlying degradation that we have all come to understand when it comes to human interaction. The very nature of these platforms has rewritten the rules of engagement.

One major ethos is the idea that everyone is a personal brand. Every user is expected to uphold a mirage of happiness and success through their photos, posts, articles, events, etc. and the mere whiff of off-brand living (i.e. attending a conservative event as a former Hillary supporter or going fly-fishing when your social circles are mostly vegan) can be devastating to one’s support structure. This has quite the resounding effect on our actions and quietly but viciously dictates what we do or do not do, say or do not say on an everyday basis.

That tethering of thought and action with personal identity causes supreme anxiety. We live in a world where even the closest friends are unlikely to share unpopular views with one another since a potentially distasteful thought is so intrinsically tied to one’s personhood. Every tweet, post, snap, or upload becomes ‘your’ tweet, post, snap, or upload. As such, ideas and discussion can never be divorced from the mouthpieces that communicate them. And now, we label those who offer disagreeable thoughts as disagreeable people, bad ideas come from bad people, virtuous talk is synonymous as virtuous character, and debating with someone is to debate with their sense of identity. These are all false premises that emerge from the ‘brand’ concept.

So how does blockchain step in? Most people who read this are probably doing so at this moment through Steemit.com, a forum that requires personal accounts. However, unlike Facebook, there is no requisite public information. One does not need to upload a personal image, describe anything personal unless willing, and can even operate on the social-media site without disclosing a real name or face. No data can be extracted other than the actions and content performed by that account’s owner.

At first, this seems to be antithetical to the tenet of transparency that so many crypto-lovers laud. It seems veiled and suspicious, like a damp dark cavern meant to breed trolls. But this structure and allowance of anonymity is actually much clearer than what we’re used to. On traditional social-media, any given idea is heavily clouded by the clout of personal information. A person’s nationality, education, religion, appearance, ethnicity, sexuality, level of gregariousness, and so much more color said thoughts and muck up any intention for a pure reception. While Facebook might make it seem as if everything is out in the open, it is actually muddied by that openness. For example, few people can enact an objective conversation about gun control or abortion or any of extremely partisan topics. The same idea given by a gay black liberal from Seattle or a conservative family-business owner in Annapolis will have very different consequences. This is not a healthy environment.

To circle back to blockchain, we are finally operating with a technology that allows the pure judgement of ideas and actions, untethered from circumstance and characteristics. A ledger which logs every choice of a given account affords us a new opportunity to do away with prejudice and preconception. Now, a bad person can be judged only if they do objectively bad things and a productive contributing member can be valued if they offer objectively productive work.

So as you explore the new landscape of blockchain-powered social-media, keep an eye out for these more nuanced but nevertheless impactful qualities of site like Steemit, Narrative, and others built on diverse blockchains. We’ll likely experience a new emergence of social thought and activity based on a foundation of transparent anonymity.


This post was authored by @hansikhouse.

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[...] However, unlike Facebook, there is no requisite public information. One does not need to upload a personal image, describe anything personal unless willing, and can even operate on the social-media site without disclosing a real name or face. No data can be extracted other than the actions and content performed by that account’s owner.

Absolutely, that's how I operate here 😎 I feel that the facts of personal identity are a distraction from debate, the work and actions one does on a platform and lead to inevitable ad homs.

Is there a limit though? As an anonymous user I've spent some time thinking about this. What if I was a truly monstrous person, would anyone know? I guess I conclude that if I was it would come out eventually, I don't think anyone can be so careful. And then, what if I was never monstrous here, doesn't that make me effective not a monster, at least here? Is behavior the sum total? I'm inclined to agree, but there is a still plenty of doubt for me around it.

What I do agree with is judging people on their actions and words, not on facts about them.

Excellent points, but this seems like a potentially slippery slope.

Anonymity certainly has its place, especially in the realm of sharing sensitive information that could put the sharer "in harm's way," but for the most part, isn't the whole point of "social" that we are striving to be seen?

I suppose what you're suggesting here (if I understand correctly) is that the blockchain allows for more focus on the message as opposed to the messenger.

Bright Blessings!

I do have to say, thinking and discussing is far more liberating than much of what I've experienced in my several years of university and my life in New York. I'm very excited for a new structure of discourse.

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