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January 14, 2004
Adolescence goes public
The New York Times Magazine has a good article on teenagers who keep online journals
. The author observes how the uptake of journaling among teens opens up new windows enabling everyone to peer into the experience of adolescence:
A result of all this self-chronicling is that the private experience of adolescence -- a period traditionally marked by seizures of self-consciousness and personal confessions wrapped in layers and hidden in a sock drawer -- has been made public. Peer into an online journal, and you find the operatic texture of teenage life with its fits of romantic misery, quick-change moods and sardonic inside jokes. Gossip spreads like poison. Diary writers compete for attention, then fret when they get it. And everything parents fear is true. (For one thing, their children view them as stupid and insane, with terrible musical taste.) But the linked journals also form a community, an intriguing, unchecked experiment in silent group therapy -- a hive mind in which everyone commiserates about how it feels to be an outsider, in perfect choral unison.
Rather than forming a single, interconnected network, journals form a multitude of relatively closed worlds
Blogging is a replication of real life: each pool of blogs is its own ecosystem, with only occasional links to other worlds. As I surfed from site to site, it became apparent that as much as journals can break stereotypes, some patterns are crushingly predictable: the cheerleaders post screen grabs of the Fox TV show ''The O.C.''; kids who identify with ''ghetto'' culture use hip-hop slang; the geeks gush over Japanese anime. And while there are exceptions, many journal writers exhibit a surprising lack of curiosity about the journals of true strangers. They're too busy writing posts to browse.
I wish I could learn more about those journal writers who are indeed curious towards strangers and the role that communities of interest
play in satisfying that curiosity.
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