Monday, March 24, 2008

This Isn't Me

So Newsweek has an article up about the impact of social-networking sites and blogs and whatever additional Web 2.0 buzzwords their editors thought they could safely cram in there.

Depending on what generational cut-off points you use (my parents were definitely Boomers, and I was born in '79, but in the summer, which led to being one of the oldest in my thanks to multiple major changes and a love of Athens in general I spent from Fall of '98 until Spring 2003 in college) I either fit into this group or not, I figure I'd share my own take on blogs and whatnot with the random # of folks reading this (even you, Google image search person looking at my "sexy" Halloween contest pics from years ago!)

My own pet pop psychology theory on this: many people are so open online because at this point, after COINTELPRO, Operation Mockingbird, The Patriot Act, and who knows what level of call listening and email reading that's been going on for decades, coupled with a push for transparency in general (see everything from the Obama campaign releasing his Congressional earmark requests to the WIRED magazine cover story from a few months back) people just figured "well, if they want to know, why don't I just tell them."

For example, if I say here "I'm like most Americans, I don't have perfect credit--in fact I'm roughly $8,000 in debt...and I'm not exactly jumping for joy about this fact," I have a least the illusion of control. I'm telling this to the world, as opposed to someone or some government-run automated PC network digging through my credit report.

The darker potential angle to this, and one Jean Baudrillard would have a field day with: they view the whole Web 2.0 experience as their fifteen minutes of fame, or worse. They're doing good impressions of themselves, or who they want people to think they are. Quoth one tyke: "The whole MySpace thing is a good warm-up for when I'm really famous." But guess what? Odds are, being used for a quote in a Newsweek article is probably as famous as he gets. How does that get dealt with years from now?

More and more kids are being raised to think they're great (and worse, some are bringing parents along to post-college job interviews) and here's all these internet tools that let them think "give me one brilliant blog post, or one video 'hit' on YouTube, and I can get a development deal too" (and idiot studio execs giving a deal to the "Leave Britney alone" kid aren't helping a damn thing.) Meanwhile, Boomers get older, but damn do they not want to retire. The article in the Decemeber (or possibly Novemember) Atlantic Monthly called "No Country For Young Men" painted a rather depressing picture of what the Nationwide Boomer aging, coupled with the relatively lower birthrate for us 30- and 20-somethings it ain't fun (but it does explain John McCain's oddly high likability rankings.)

So for me, what's the point of blogging and throwing out the occasional picture or stupid quip on Facebook? Well, for one thing, I'm an only child and a yeah, I'm a bit of an attention whore. Plus, putting things like "I'm going to celebrate the holiday in the traditional fashion: getting drunk and trying to bang Lindsay Lohan" in my Facebook status is just good fun (note: this is only true provided you don't go out and try to have sex with Lindsay Lohan, as if you're aren't actually in LA, odds are you're going to have a case of mistaken identity, or worse, a nasty surprise the next morning.)

Facebook I look at primarily as a better way to stay in touch with people than juggling a ton of emails, or talking constantly on the phone. (Note: I've never been a big phone conversation person. Talking in person is best, but if we can't, I'd prefer to write. Also, my voicemails are legendarily bad/awkward.) sort of like Facebook, but mainly I use to find out when bands I like have new albums coming out or a tour coming close to me.

And as for the blogging...well it's cheaper than therapy. Particularly given that for most of this blog's existence, I didn't have health insurance.

And, oddly enough, I find it easier to say some things here, to an unknown audience, than I would telling it to someone in person. Even when things were going great with The Girl and I was being Mr. Open Communication, I didn't mention "oh by the way, the reason I got you a One Month Anniversary gift? It's because I don't celebrate a lot of anniversaries. I've never even made it to the 6 month mark before." I figured then that it was the type of thing that'd scare her off. (Given the relatively low number of dates since I first mentioned my whole "Bad Boyfriend Material" status, I may have been right about volunteering such info.)

I try to not use names at all here, and avoid talking about where I work, or even some of my old jobs (though you can now guess how much some of them paid me) or about family or friend-related stuff.

In short: this is part of me, but it's not me. It's a place where I rant about politics, attempt to talk myself through my various dating blunders, and list actresses with whom I would like to engage in mind-blowingly good sexual congress. It's a place where I talk college football, bitch about traffic, and fondly reminisce about The OC.

But it's not me.

It's more like therapy. But cheaper.

That's my take anyway: what does your blog mean to you?

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