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May 26, 2005

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Braidwood

If you click on the link to my site, you can see my anonymous blog. It actually has turned out to be more self-revealing than I intended and I've told friends and family about it, hoping they would drop by. It is interesting to notice the pull to share, and the pull to keep things to myself. I tend to the private side.

Steve

Your point about stuff being archived online is a salient one - thanks to The Way Back Machine - http://www.archive.org/ - you can look at old versions of websites, even if they've been deleted long ago. I'm embarrassed enough by the huge design faux pas I made on the early incarnations of my website - God forbid I'd started blogging my inmost thoughts before I realised I couldn't get rid of it and my perspective would change!

On a geek-note, there may be some kind of HTML header you can add to a page to stop it from being archived, in the way that you can block search engines from archiving your page... Anyone?

Caitriona

Did a search. Seems the Way Back Machine doesn't have my old websites archived. What a shame. I had some good recipes on my geocities site.

Jeff

By documenting so many details of their intimate lives, many are losing the opportunity to start over, to change, to redefine themselves in the eyes of their peers, parents, and everyone else.

I don't think blogging keeps anyone from being able to redefine themselves. If anything, it makes it easier.

I've been blogging off and on (mostly off, these days) since 1999 or so. I'm certainly not the person I was six years ago; looking back at some of those entries makes me wince. But I've never felt constrained to keep myself consistent with something I uploaded six years ago, and I think people can recognize

When I went off to school, I was looking to "start over" - I went across the country to escape what I saw as the "Southern California mentality" and to attend school with people who hadn't formed their opinions of me in kindergarten. However, I don't think that being able to make a fresh start would have been prevented if I had known what blogging was back in 1995. Rather, the need would have been lessened because I would have had another outlet to challenge what people thought of me.

Their desire to have others read about and respond to their lives seems to trump the need to keep certain things personal and private and protected.

This, I suspect, is the more common point of concern, and it comes across as half paternalism and half culture clash. We look at these people as children who need to be protected (cf. all the scare sites about "online predators"), and recognize the need to keep information private, but we don't acknowledge the benefits of teenagers being able to express themselves. (It's similar, I think, to adults' attitudes about teenage sexuality; we acknowledge the potential risks but not the potential benefits, because the latter are too personal to observe.)

I think it's also a culture clash, because having this avenue for expression changes our ideas about privacy. There's a lot of talk about the "need to keep things personal and private and protected," but little talk about why.

Hugo

Jeff, the "why" here isn't that complicated: not all teenagers recognize what the long-term consequences of making their private behavior public will be. I'm all for teenagers expressing their feelings, hopes, beliefs, etc. But from what I've seen, they're expressing much more than that, often providing intimate details of their sexual/chemical lives that could have real consequences down the road. Sometimes

Caitriona

Looks like you didn't finish what you were saying, Hugo.

In th interest of giving kids a place to voice their feelings, hopes, and beliefs, I have implemented Yahoo!Groups sites for my exchange students, host-families, host-siblings, and staff.

Emily H.

I have seen awful, awful livejournal behavior among college students--including a secondhand report of an attempted suicide resulting from some bitchy livejournal posts. Honestly, I'm not so much worried about the long-term consequences of putting your bad life choices on the internet as I am worried about the meanness and drama and flaming.

I think the only thing that would get some people to stop being way too mean and self-revelatory is a shift in LiveJournal culture so that these things aren't accepted as normal; and that won't happen as long as the demographics of LiveJournal are as young as they are.

(LJ's features--friends lists, friend locking, filters, threaded commenting--don't help. My worst online behavior* has been abetted by LJ).

*Not that it's all that bad. I have Very Strict Rules after all the angst I've seen.

cmc

I foresee at least one political scandal in say 20-25 years when our current young adult bloggers start running for political office and the press digs up their old blogs.

yami

Steve: you can remove your site from the Wayback Machine by adding a note to your robots.txt file. Not sure if there's a way for those with hosted blogs at Typepad, etc., to do this, as many such hosts don't allow you to upload extra files.

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