Threading the needle between the two can be difficult, painful, and, if you get it wrong, even disastrous. Nowhere does this ring more true than in the world of online discourse.
By now, we are all well-acquainted with the dangers: the polarization, the bad faith arguments, the social media echo chambers. This is to say nothing of the worst cases: bullying, doxing, careers ruined. Civil discussion is a thing of the past, it may seem.
Enter The Doe: Founded by Milan Kordestani, it is intended as a platform that can bring sanity back to the world of online discussion. Here’s how it will work: The Doe will publish one story a week, anonymously written, but having been thoroughly vetted using proprietary methods to ensure that the author is who they say they are, including social media verification and background searches. Special attention will be paid to marginalized voices: those in recovery, people of color, queer folk.
Through anonymity and an editorial mandate that encourages bare-your-soul writing, it aims to put honesty back at the forefront.
“For our contributors, verified anonymity provides both protection and the freedom to share fully,” reads the platform’s manifesto. “For our readers and society as a whole, we hope the rich, complex, and sometimes confronting stories that appear on The Doe will help restore open conversation and tough but productive dialogue to our cultural fabric.”
According to the same manifesto, the dominant names in social media aren’t equipped to take this kind of project on; they are algorithmically designed to encourage the kind of groupthink The Doe hopes to push against.
Whether the site can do so effectively is an open question, of course. Still, in the midst of a media landscape overflowing with the heated and overblown, it is worth considering whether The Doe’s patient and honest approach might just succeed. Follow The Doe on Instagram @wearethedoe