Many years ago, when picking up my teenage daughter from an outdoor mall, I found myself surrounded by her friends. “You’re verified,” one of them said, gushing. At first I thought this was some new youth slang term for “cool” or even “uncool.” But alas, she was referring to Twitter. I had a blue check on the service. That kind of verified.
My kid’s friends would have found it impressive to be verified because actual famous people, such as Kim Kardashian and the fictional mascot of the Wendy’s burger chain, were verified. I was verified because I had an @theatlantic.com email address. On social media, as in reality television, accomplishment is less important than occupying the subject position of the accomplished. The verified badge signaled the second.