Limit yourself to practicing honorable action
One of the claims of my nametag manifesto is the end of incivility.
If everybody wears nametags, we are instantly and consistently accountable. We lack constant invitations for selfish behavior. There’s less incentive to get away with bad behavior, because there are always people watching to positively modify our behavior through healthy doses of social pressure.
It’s actually one of the reasons lying is so hard for me. Not that it was my default behavior before wearing a nametag, but the sticker certainly keeps me honest.
But my experiment is not the first to make this claim.
Zimbardo was the first scholar to explore the effects of anonymity on individuals instructed to engage in antisocial behavior. His famous study from the late sixties involved participants who were asked to wear either identifying name tags or lab coats and hoods to conceal their identity.
All participants were then given a sanctioned opportunity to administer electrical shocks to another individual.
Not surprisingly, the subjects wearing lab coats and hoods administered longer shocks than the subjects wearing name tags.
Never underestimate the power of human nature, right? Zimbardo used the word deindividuation, which meant, the state of decreased evaluation due to anonymity. That’s what led to increased antisocial and antinormative behaviors.
Because back in the day, people could be anonymous, free to walk about in relative uncertainty, and could be anyone they chose, or no one if they chose.
But thanks to the internet, it seems like everyone is wearing a nametag. It might not be a sticker, but it sure sticks.
Dilbert, the great arbiter of moral rectitude, writes:
In the old days, evil people did evil things whenever they thought they wouldn’t get caught. However, today, social media takes away the opportunity for most types of anonymous evil. If you’re evil these days, you’d better own it, because social media is coming for you.
In my opinion, this is ultimately a good thing for society. The more nametags the better. The internet may invite tons of trolling, but overall, people’s newfound inability to get away with bad behavior is a net gain for our culture.
As long as we don’t start administering electric shocks to each other, we can paint ourselves into an accountable corner.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What microstructure could you put into place to limit yourself to practicing honorable action?