I guess one of the benefits of beginning my blogging “career”* while I was still living with my parents was treating every semi-public piece of content I placed on the Internet like something my mom, who I love but who has very rigid ideas of what personal details are “nice” for people to publicly broadcast about themselves anywhere, might see. (Hi Mom, if you’re reading this.) Plus I don’t really trust the privacy controls of any online endeavors that I’m not paying for, because I’ve seen them change on a dime thanks to new corporate priorities, system glitches, money running out, etc. So unlike the people posting detailed rundowns of how to delete themselves from their friends’ right-side news feeds I don’t really have a problem with my (pretty sprawling) Facebook circle knowing that I, for example, commented on my friend Terri’s status about my low opinion of the tech blogosphere an hour or so ago. I understand why people who thought the Internet was a lot more closed off to snooping eyes than it actually is might be freaked out, although I also think that people at this point need to be a lot less naïve about the information they’re handing over to so-called “free” services. There’s always a price somewhere.
That said, I think there’s something to be said about the idea of personality development over time that makes me quite uneasy about Facebook’s exuberance over being able to chronicle one’s whole life on the service. What does that do to the notion of memory, the fuzziness of which can have helpful functions at times? There are people who have been on Facebook since their teens—how is their development into adulthood affected by their past being so present? Shouldn’t people have the option to escape their pasts, or at least aspects of their pasts, if they’re hindering their personal development? Obviously there are degrees of the latter ideal—I’m not saying, hey, get away with murder and then expunge that fact from your record with a control-X—but I feel like the idea of having your whole life at your fingertips can be a bit of a trap, and can cause old patterns to persist for longer than they should. Refashioning oneself, and embarking on changes that sometimes require you to cut loose parts of your past (either temporarily or permanently), is a form of growth. And I feel like so many of the innovations involving technology and persona being put forth right now are being fashioned by people with myopic “everything is great right now and will be that way forever” outlooks, and that they don’t really have any sense of what life beyond their VC-funded Silicon Valley privileged existences might be like.
* Oh you know.