Recently Blizzard released a new feature on WOW which will exist across all new Blizzard games that are released - RealID. This is a feature that allows players to link up their accounts so that they can see and talk to their friends across all Blizzard games. It requires knowing the other person's real email address to link up and displays their real name to both their friends and the friends of their friends. I think this is a great service to add in since it allows me to easily keep track of my friends who are on other servers or playing other games. I can chat with people within WOW itself without having to disrupt my play. Of course, the internet is not convinced that RealID is a good thing.
As soon as this feature went live people began going on about how scary it was for them to be connected to their real name. The standard scenario goes something like this: I cause InternetThug in game a lot of grief. They find out who my friends are and who their friends are. By asking a friend of a friend using trickery, bribery or whatever they find out what my real name is. Then InternetThug hunts me down in real life and kills me for griefing him in the game.
It makes me wonder how stupid the people making these sorts of complaints really are. Firstly, if you don't like the service, don't use it. Secondly, a first and last name and the knowledge that you live somewhere in the world *is not useful*. Finding a single person in the whole of the world by those two names is nigh impossible even for an organization with the resources of a government, let alone a some random dude in the midst of a nerd rage. Thirdly, if this was a real risk you would see internet celebrities that make controversial statements being regularly murdered and we would know about it! You could take me as an example since just by perusing my blog you can find my name and photos that almost perfectly pinpoint my home. I say things and have opinions and yet the idea that I am in any danger is ludicrous. Of course I am a tiny fish in a big ocean... you could consider dooce who is something like 4 orders of magnitude more widely read than I am and has plenty of opinions to share and who has not yet been killed.
It simply boggles me that people are so ignorant of what will actually kill them and so aware of the things that should simply be ignored. Your chance of being kidnapped or randomly murdered is so close to zero it is incredible - people murder their spouses, lovers, opposing gang members and longtime rivals but murders of people that hardly know each other are nearly nonexistent. When they do happen they make the news of course, but to worry about them is an exercise is foolishness. Worry about the high fructose corn syrup in pop, worry about drunk drivers, worry about not exercising enough. Consider that you are more likely to die on a long trip from driving to and from the airport than you are on the plane.
Shocking scenarios with no probability attached are and always have been a huge problem for people. We aren't too bad at understanding the difference between a 50% probability and a 20% probability but we are unbelievably wretched at the difference between 1% and .00001% and this sort of alarmism reflects that rather cleanly.