Monday, February 26, 2007

February 12, 2007

Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll -- New York Magazine an article by Emily Nussbaum was my most recent assigned reading for the purposes of this blog and the independent study I have begun it for.

To summarize, the article establishes that Generation Y and Z are growing up comfortable with their every thought and image as public domain. That is, the positives of sharing your status, relationship status, images of you at the last party (tagged by your friends), interests, conversations...outweigh the potential negatives of the situations. Yes, it's possible to be politically incorrect, to make social faux pas at the speed of information, but through MySpace, Facebook, Xanga, and Blogger, tens (hundreds?) of thousands of young people are becoming politicians--that is, they understand the power and consequences of words, but are also prepared to use them for their advantage. And most of the time, the social advantages are greater than the potential harm.

There are, of course, risks to this sort of open-ness. The idea that a future employer or college may be able to see every early-teenage blunder, immortalized in one's and zeroes. The risk that comes with sharing so much contact information freely-stalking, being called by the un-popular kids, whatever.

So, why does this freak our parents out? They just don't get it. They don't get that we were born writing bad adolescent poetry on a keyboard. Real journals don't hold the same interest to us as they did to generations before them. And, in crafting identity both in person and online, we are able, to some degree, to transcend youthful impulse and vacillation. We can be whomever we want to be online. To a certain degree. There are, of course, also costs to being a different person in-person (or "IRL," in real life) than online. But, social networking sites are here to stay, and as painful as it may be to look back on one's internet history/footprints that exist on Geocities or the Way Back Machine, in a few years a whole new generation will be able to gain insight to their forebears, sans the messy hand-writing. I can't say that I'm not looking forward to seeing what they think of us.

1 comment:

  1. I read that article, and thought that it was spot-on in identifying a true "generation gap."

    I think that this explosion of personal writing is very good for individuals and for our culture -- no more are only certain people privileged to write and be read.

    I'm guessing that with numbers will come a dilution of the downsides of self-exposure. In five years, every job candidate will have posted embarrassingly juvenile ideas on MySpace, so it won't make one candidate stand out.


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