Do you have to be anonymous to be free?

Just read “The Internet, the White House, and You (and Me)” by Jason Goldman (#socialcivics). He’s taken a new job at the White House and asks, “How can we — our government and you and your communities — better connect online to make America better?”

Believing as I do that every human life is important, I was surprised to learn during the Ferguson shooting aftermath that, on average, five people are killed by police every day in the U.S. Nearly all of the deaths are under-reported and certainly not prosecuted, so it’s hard to know for sure.

Juxtapose that information with the recent admission by the Social Security Administration that 6.5 million active SS numbers belong to people over the age of 112 years (which, of course, is impossible). Their deaths simply were not reported to SSA, so the numbers may be used to commit fraud.

If lives are important, should not the marking of life with birth and death records be something that we can do better? Without advocating a “big brother” system or federal vs. state’s rights issues, certainly the knowledge that a human being “was here” and mattered should be the province of the federal government and not subject to the haphazard way the counties and states do it now.

There is a balance between the freedom of anonymity and the benefits of being part of a community. I’m reminded of the classic 1990's New Yorker cartoon of two dogs at a computer where one says to the other, “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” That anonymity may have characterized the emerging internet, but the technology has delivered on Marshall McLuhan’s concept of a “global village” and, as in a tribal village, every villager matters.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Robert Maxwell Case’s story.