This feature from New York magazine is excellent, and certainly worth a brief comment. It asserts there is a generational gap caused by young people using the Internet to disclose incredibly personal detail and find others through such openness. The generational gap is so severe, it is as if there is no such thing as “the private” anymore: people are wholly public, and it makes perfect sense why Paris Hilton would be a role model of sorts, since she knows how to deal with the problem of there being “too much information” about her: she uses it to her advantage and wears a very thick skin.
The only thing I would suggest is that one might want to consider that the private reigns supreme, contra to the article. We probably have not had any sense of what is truly “public” for quite some time. The idea that “having privacy” alone means there is a legitimate public/private distinction that can be drawn is very problematic, especially given that these young people profiled are only “public” in the sense they disclose all their private information. Also, the article does say that the young people it discusses have a sense of shame. I’m a bit skeptical about their evidence for that claim.
Another set of issues to consider is what happens when one’s online persona has negative things associated with it. I am well aware of my arrogance, and the fact that I’ve said things in forums and comment threads and especially on Instant Messenger that are downright cruel. The way I work with that is to say “what’s done is done,” and then write something or say something or do something that makes what is bad pale in comparison. I think that’s the most honest way to deal with such things, because to have a wholly positive image is an unreal expectation.
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