What does it mean to blog? American Princess takes up this topic with a discussion of a Wall Street Journal article which brings up some of the things that we have talked about here for some time. The Internet has become a medium of great communication, but has also created a medium where people believe they have some form of anonymity, but they, in fact, do not.
Not surprisingly, a new vocabulary has emerged from clinical psychology to describe generalized patterns of behavior on the virtual continent. As described by psychologist John Suler, there’s dissociative anonymity (You don’t know me); solipsistic introjection (It’s all in my head); and dissociative imagination (It’s just a game). This is all known as digital identity, and it sounds perfectly plausible to me.
A libertarian would say, quite correctly, that most of this is their problem, so who cares? But there is one more personality trait common to the blogosphere that, like crabgrass, may be spreading to touch and cover everything. It’s called disinhibition. Briefly, disinhibition is what the world would look like if everyone behaved like Jerry Lewis or Paris Hilton or we all lived in South Park.
Example: The Web site currently famous for enabling and aggregating millions of personal blogs is called MySpace.com. If you opened its “blogs” page this week, the first thing you saw was a blogger’s video of a guy swilling beer and sticking his middle finger through a car window. Right below that were two blogs by women in their underwear.
The Princess goes onto talk about how blogging can also be a form of expression of political ideas, which is what that blog is about. But there is something to this concept of being willing to show everyone everything– to not have a concept of what is too much information, what is to be kept private.
It’s funny, because even I am tempted to judge just how worthwhile this whole blogging thing is by how many comments I get or the amount of visits I get to the site. It’s easy to get into that mode where you judge who you are by what others think. I could easily get a lot of traffic by having a “babe of the day” or whatever else would get traffic in. But we need to remember that we are here for a purpose greater than ourselves.