where the writers are
Privacy is an Art -- Part 3

Why is telling total strangers everything we think, feel, or do viewed as a positive act?  Why isn’t it simply undisciplined and needy?  Maybe I’m asking, why Facebook? Why do we want the complete and raw goods on anybody—famous, infamous, or obscure?

I suspect that at some level we all intuit the answer, since readers make the same demands over and over again.  When reading the tell-it-all blog, if we don’t get the answer this person is pretty much like me, after all, we turn against the author, right?  That’s the answer we have to have.  If we don’t get it, we feel justified in nurturing a sense of injury.  The reader sniffs, the whole thing is so false, just putting on airs, trying to be so hot.  The populist notion that you as an individual set the norm, the standard, the way things should be, seems to be a default position in the 21st century western culture brain.

But if you’re going to go public with private things on a blog, the writer has to find a high degree of individuality and skill.  That takes energetic application.  It’s pressure that turns coal to a diamond.  Otherwise, those Internet bloggers who pride themselves on candor and full disclosure merely generate a peculiar form of self-referenced rant.  It’s less lovely than first grade refrigerator art, but about as important to the art world.  Your bff will care, your mother might, but foisting it on the rest of the world takes monumental audacity.

I sometimes long for a vanished world where private things were sent in private letters for the private perusal of one very private person.  That was an art form.