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."
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.