The follow was intended as a comment/reply elsewhere, but apparently, I broke the maximum length for such things. So, instead, I’m placing it here and thanking the one who triggered the thoughts as it has provided me with precisely the sense of closure I needed to relax and return my mind and interests to more fruitful things.
In a few, small things, there is no such concept as “middle ground”, I think, because the interests, by definition and nature, conflict at any point in which they meet.
Such a conflict is found where consumer choice/privacy meets corporate or government control/commerce/revenue.
My thoughts overall are remarkably simple, really; my assertions are that, as demonstrated over the course of our country (and to large degree, human history):
- The concept of “common” identity operates in a context that includes (and should continue to include) “deniability”; the ability to choose when and where one is identified as well as to choose NOT to be identified, whereas,
- The concept behind “legal” identity is “authentication” and the context of this is and always will be about the ability to control and expressly enable or vet association to a single, legal identity.
- Deniability is the core of both anonymous and pseudonymous communication, a cornerstone of our country’s charter of personal liberty, and a critical component that exists and should be retained in all cultural or social environments.
- Authentication is the core of contractual and governance communications, a cornerstone of authority and obligation within our country, and a critical component that exists and should be retained in all legal and governing environments.
- In any environment that is not legal or governing, deniability trumps authentication.
- In any environment that is not cultural or social, authentication trumps deniability.
- While corporations have the right to determine their practices and policies, they are acting unethically and deceptively to the use weight of popularity or market presence to coerce customers into authentication at the expense of deniability.
- While customers have the right to determine their choices and privacy, they do not have the right to use deniability to escape legitimate requests for authentication (as defined within this list at #2).
The issue at present is that there are large groups of people who genuinely wish to coerce people into authentication at the expense of deniability; this effort denies and seeks to ignore the validity of deniability via a campaign of derision, marginalization, and appeal to popularity.
As a result, I find the companies engaging in such effort to be insupportable. I find that deciding how/if to support them is (though many do not yet see it) a binary choice; I find as well that any support given to a distinctively aggressive, forceful infringement by any partisan majority only strengthens its ability and power to reach its goal.
Sociology demonstrates time and time again that the only means by which a minority (be they so by apathy, choice, ignorance, or disinformation) may successfully find pluralism within a culture/society is total rejection of encroachment in any form. There are many examples from which to choose to demonstrate the point that “fighting within the system” and “compromise within the majority’s arena” leads only to assimilation (context: weakening followed by absorption and conversion) or eradication (usually through deception and “bait/switch” engagements).
As I’ve said previously, I left Facebook and Google+ because I could see the direction and I discerned the narrowing that indicates both subtle and direct attacks upon choice and privacy. I left because my presence was a reason for my family, friends, and peers to remain. I left because I cannot in good conscience support offerings that I know for fact neither consider nor care for any interest of mine that intersects with their own.
Over many years of online activity, I have given significant time and energy to helping both of those companies build and grow. It is hurtful and sad to me to see how easily the commonality and trust is thrown over for mercenary bias and authoritarianism.
We made money together, these companies and I; there is no reason we could not and would not continue to do so. But the grasping fingers of these companies now seek to rid themselves of our agreement to be obliged positively toward one another and to act with respect, to provide and support choice, and to insist upon mutually agreeable benefit. Instead, they actively seek to subsume my choice as well as invade my privacy to sate their desire for growth. They wish to do so at my cost. They wish to do so at my expense.
To this, I say very simply, “No, this I will not conscience, endure, or support.”
There is no trick or toy of technology that would make such a thing attractive to me, not when I know my choice today affects not only me, but all those who come after me. Things like this affect the future; ours, our children’s, our economy’s, our technology’s, and our world’s.
Maybe there are those who sincerely do not feel obligated to such things, or who think the risk is not worth considering until it becomes real. Maybe I really am the one over-analyzing or over-reacting. Maybe the distrust of all history is misplaced. Maybe, indeed; but, all things in the balance, I prefer to keep my identity in my hands rather than gamble on the chance that conflicting interests can possibly be interested in, capable of, or willing to manage it as closely or as well as I strive to every day.
In closing, you’ll note that I use my legal identity in all my online interactions. I do not have to do so, but I choose to do so. It is my right to choose, just as it is yours or anyone else’s. I support that right even as I do not avail myself of it now. I have so availed myself in the past, I may or may not again do so; but this is neither here nor there.
The important thing? The important thing is this:
Supporting the right of others to make their own choices, regardless my agreement or disagreement with those choices, IS what it means to support liberty; it something that we (in this country at least) are obligated to both share and uphold.
Any who cannot say the same is not worthy of my support.
Any who cannot act in accord with this principle does not deserve my presence, my business, or my trust.
I may not have much, but I have my right to choose; both in how I identify myself and in who I support; I relinquish such rights to no one; if they are to be taken, let them them be taken by force and let all who witness it see and know that any who do so believe neither in choice, in liberty, or in rights.
Think well on things and act in accord with what you find to be most reasonable and best.
I am now out of words and, frankly, happy for it.