Back in the 1980′s, when I attended high school, reading someone’s diary would have been the ultimate intrusion. But communication was rudimentary back then. There were no cellphones, or answering machines; there was no ”texting,” no MP3′s or JPEG’s, no digital cameras or file-sharing software; there was no World Wide Web — none of the private-ish, public-ish, superimmediate forums kids today take for granted. If this new technology has provided a million ways to stay in touch, it has also acted as both an amplifier and a distortion device for human intimacy. The new forms of communication are madly contradictory: anonymous, but traceable; instantaneous, then saved forever (unless deleted in a snit). In such an unstable environment, it’s no wonder that distinctions between healthy candor and ”too much information” are in flux and that so many find themselves helplessly confessing, as if a generation were given a massive technological truth serum.
The general degree of anonymity varies: some bloggers post their full names, others give quirky, quasi-revelatory handles. No wonder everyone is up till 5 a.m. tweaking their font size and Photoshopping a new icon. At heart, an online journal is like a hyperflexible adolescent body — but better, because in real life, it takes money and physical effort to add a piercing, or to switch from zip-jacketed mod to Abercrombie prepster. A LiveJournal or Blurty offers a creative outlet with a hundred moving parts. And unlike a real journal, with a blog, your friends are all around, invisible voyeurs — at least until they chime in with a comment. –Emily Nussbaum –My So-Called Blog (New York Times)
Intersting how the author contrasts the online diary with “a real journal.” I think she meant something like “unlike a paper diary.” The digital versions are real.
This article, from 2004, comes just before the big MySpace/Facebook surge.