Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mutual Accountability

I had an interaction with a quick-witted 10 year-old yesterday.

We are getting infusions of young families out here in the hinter-boonies. While the family in question is not a close neighbor, it is a family that I interact with a few times a year.

Non-playing characters don't have names because you wouldn't remember them anyway

I make a point of learning names. I do that by testing myself.

I pointed at the quick-witted kid and asked, "Your name is Fred, right?"

He squinted at me and asked "Why do you want to know?"

I made some pompous remark about knowing each other's names keeps us both accountable.

He smiled, satisfied with the answer and replied "My name is George."

Mutual Accountability

Much of the lack-of-civility on the internet is due to anonymity and the resulting lack of mutual accountability.

While it is slightly hypocritical that I shield my identity as a blogger, I do so because revealing my identity would causes an asymmetry of information. You would know far, far more about me than I would know about any of my readers.

In meat-space I at least know what you look like and have a pretty good chance of catching your name. Meat-space comes with identity and the possibility of immediate feedback and both of those characteristics are guard-rails nudging folks away from bad behaviors.

Remembering somebody's name does two things. First, if I remember your name I send the "I think you are important" message.

The other message it sends is that I just opened a character bank-account in your name. It has both credits and debits.

You get credit for every promise kept, especially the ones where the promise was costly. You get credit for when you show up on-time. You get credit for bringing work-gloves even if the job does not require them.

Your account gets debited every time you say "Not my job" especially when it IS your job. You get debited when you gossip and spread hurtful things or tell lies to avoid being held accountable. You get debited when you steal or do something lazy or spiteful when you think nobody is watching.

Accountability is not a bad thing. Accountability is an ADULT thing.

It is like looking in the mirror. If you do bad things what you see in the mirror will reflect that. AND IF YOU DO GOOD THINGS THEN WHAT YOU SEE IN THE MIRROR WILL PLEASE YOU.  


  1. "Much of the lack-of-civility on the internet is due to anonymity and the resulting lack of mutual accountability."
    I've never said anything online that I wouldn't say to someone in person.

    You are correct about accountability.
    I however, am horrible and remembering names, faces I never forget, but names not so much.

  2. I am also horrible at remembering names, not to mention other things. My shortterm memory is not so good anymore.
    Lack of accountability is how our government toadies have lasted as long as they have.

  3. As I age I have trouble remembering my own name, let alone anybody less.....

  4. What you describe is what makes a "community". I used to live in one here as was normal in rural areas. Unfortunately with in invasion of outlanders that is rapidly disappearing. Along with any social accountability. ---ken

  5. I ALWAYS remember everyone's names. I just can't remember who goes with what name.

  6. Anonymity is the curse of the Intarwebz... People don't have to take responsibility for what they say if nobody knows who they actually are... dammit...

  7. And yet,
    Most of the people with similar interests as me are not in my area.
    I know them and interact only in digital space. Yes I miss out on their faults and only know their interests.

  8. Yup, and keeping the account full is especially important with those closest to you . . .


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