Saturday, June 7, 2008

Emily Gould And Us

I recently read the article penned by Emily Gould, blogger of Emily Magazine and previously of Gawker, on the New York Times website. And her article was chilling and slightly nausea-inducing. Many have said that Gould was an idiot for placing that much of herself on the internet, for detailing every aspect of her life -from the cosmic to the mundane- in different spots and blogs. I can't disagree. I've also heard that not doing that kind of thing is just common sense. And that is true.

But the terrifying thing about Emily Gould is that however we as a public may scoff at and mock someone for exposing so much of themselves on the internet, so many of us do it. Not to the same extent as Gould, but we alert the world -though the world often takes little to no interest- to our every mood through multiple mediums. Facebook has a function whose sole purpose is to help us express that happiness, angst, or just what we are physically doing at that moment. So-and-so "saw her crush talking to another girl". Another person "hates his job". These updates disappear within 7 days and very rarely state anything as juicy as "cheated on her boyfriend with his best friend", but I don't doubt that someone in the world has or will post something in all seriousness to that effect. We like to imagine that we are only exposing ourselves to our friends, but the internet age has radically altered the definition of "friend". Now, "friend" seems to signify anyone who you said "hi" to, ever. That generally means that you are friends with your crush -and possibly the floozy he was talking to seventh period. Nowadays, you can be "friends" with your boss, or co-workers, or even family members. Older family members, younger family members, family members you see once a year for Christmas dinner. How many of us want those people possibly reading, "getting fucked up this weekend"? But we put that kind of thing in our "status" without even thinking about the many different people who have friended or who have friended us.

Even when we have innocuous information on our page, it is sometimes jolting to find out that someone else has access to that information. My uncle, who I am not friends with on Facebook -mostly because he doesn't have his own account-, looks at my profile with apparent frequency. The last time we saw him, he asked my sisters and I if we write on each other's Facebook walls while we are in the same room. We do. He saw that through his daughter's account, who trusts him with her password. That is all very Little House on the Prairie and sweet in today's culture, but it surprised the hell out of me. It was an ugly surprise that he had access to that knowledge when I didn't grant it to him.

But it shouldn't have. Why? Because I "cyberstalk" people on Facebook I'm not friends with. I read their livejournals; I look at their pictures. And I do the same thing to some of the people whose blogs I read. Sara M. doesn't know I read her blog, nor does she have any idea who I am. But I know all about her Ex-Evil Roommate. And that makes blogging, Facebook, livejournal, and the like more than a little thought provoking. Because we send our thoughts out into the atmosphere with the hope that someone will be interested in them; but they don't always garner attention from the people we expect. And because of that, I think we all should take a harder look at Emily Gould. She isn't as separate from us as we might imagine, as we might wish her to be.


jjfs85 said...

I generally think I'm pretty good with protecting my information online. I genreally don't post anything that I'm not ok with the whole world knowing about.

But there is one thing that I'm afraid could happen to me, but I don't want to post it here for fear of it happening. If you wanna know send me a message on facebook.

MediaMaven said...

I'm pretty open that I read other people's comments, but it's still unnerving to them when they find out that I "know" something that was published in an away message/on Facebook somehow. But I also realized it's also kind of creepy to hear a friend talk about a conversation you and another friend had just between the two of you, even if a hundred people can track the conversation.

Anyway, good point!