I've been on the internet for longer than most people. In the late 1980s I entered Georgia State University as a Computer Science major. I was issued an account on a server connected to the internet due to my student membership in the Association for Computing Machinery in either 1989 or 1990. I already had experience with computers at that time, but they were standalone mainframe computers. My new account was on a Unix machine, with access to a variety of text based internet tools, including document retrieval programs archie and veronica, an early hypertext system known as gopher, and, more to the point of this post, the usenet newsgroups.
Usenet was a network of discussion groups, not a whole lot different from the various social media forums which exist on the current internet. There were the same noisy disputes, the same spamming and flame wars, and the same incivility. The differences were that there weren't a lot of graphics, the participants were, for the most part, professionally involved in technology, and the use of pseudonyms was pretty minimal.
I've recently decided to retire every pseudonymous userid I have, and to only participate in discussions under my own name. The reason for this is that I'm fed up with the crazy partisan noise and the lack of civility which becomes easier to do with anonymity. Open identities don't necessarily eliminate rude behavior. Some of the political banter on Facebook is just as obnoxious as the ranting on political forums where identities are hidden. But I know that I'm much likelier to post something insulting if my identity is hidden than if I'm posting under my own name. It's a natural human characteristic.
What this will mean is that I'll have to be a lot more careful about what I say. It doesn't mean I'll hide my political or philosophical views. It just means I won't likely post them as the sort of sputtering rants which occur online all too often.
One of the things which led me to this decision was observing the difference in tone and content between the reader comment section of the website Politico and that of the New York Times. Politico's forum mostly consists of anonymous posters, while on the NYT comments have to be approved and posted under an actual name. The Politico comments often seem to be written by mentally deranged ten year olds. The Times comments tend to be intelligent and measured.
There are, of course, downsides to open identities, and I'm not suggesting that everyone adopt this approach. People working for companies where their social or political views might endanger their job security have more to lose than I do. I work for myself, and I'm unlikely to fire me. There are a number of other legitimate reasons for maintaining anonymity, but none of them apply to me.
Whether or not you participate in discussions openly, under your own name, I think it is a good policy to look over a communication before you send it, and ask yourself, "Would I say this to that person in a face to face discussion?" If the answer is no, you might want to delete the comment, and do something more productive.