Monday, June 20, 2011

Blogging and Exhibitionism Revisited

My first article on Associated Content, talked about how blogging had become a form of exhibitionism and how reading blogs and online journals showed a touch of voyeurism in those of us who read these things.  This was back in 2006.
The other day I was updating my Twitter and my Facebook and reading blog posts on my Google Reader and realized that we’ve come even further with online exhibitionism. It’s no longer just about blogging…now it’s about letting it all hang loose.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing, at least not in all instances.  As much as I complain about Facebook, it’s let me keep in touch with friends and family. It’s also given me a chance to help out others. Recently I participated in a drive to help a friend and co-worker fund a project for her community through Pepsi Refresh Everything. I was also able to write an article and help the spread the word about the brewery my friends in Copper Harbor, MI are opening.  In both cases, by posting status messages, I was able to drum up interest and help the causes.
Twitter is used for much the same thing, but rather than staying in touch with old friends, it’s given me the chance to meet and follow cool new people. Terry Border is an artist who shows it work on his blog, Bent Objects. I found him on Twitter. His work is amazing, but I might never have heard of him if he wasn’t out there Tweeting his links.
Technically, these things are more about promotion, but isn’t promotion a form of exhibitionism? Every time I post a link to one of my articles, I’m saying “Please read this! Please make me feel important and comment and tell me how awesome I am!” I would never say this out loud, but it’s what’s implied when I put myself out there for the world to see.
Then there are the random Tweets and status updates that have nothing to do with anything, but for some reason, we feel like sharing them.  For whatever reason, I feel it’s important to let the world know what I’m eating, what I’m watching, and what I’m doing. Sites like and any site that allows you to automatically send updates to Twitter or Facebook make this easier than ever.  In fact, some days I realize that I’ve spammed my friends on both sites with the updates I’ve made elsewhere.
As an online exhibitionist, I have an overinflated sense of self that I think everyone has to an extent. We believe that someone out there cares what we do. We believe that maybe we’ll help someone or make someone laugh or just make someone happy because we decided to mention the hot dogs we had for dinner.  What makes the internet great is that I and others like me don’t have to deal with anyone calling shenanigans on our egos. Because it's so commonplace, few people are going to call us out, and even if they do, every site has a "Block" feature which may be used as liberally as needed. 

Or we just call them trolls. The internet is full of them.

If I've put this in a negative light, I don't mean to. I'm actually pretty happy with where we are with social networking and technology.  I like sharing and keeping up with others and using what they do as inspiration for finding new things to do and read and see. It feels exciting to me, not overwhelming.

Besides, we may be exhibitionists but we're also voyeurs, and technology has given us a safer outlet for both tendencies.

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