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May 30, 2008

Your Life Online

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Kids: Where putting it all out there on Bebo and Facebook goes, maybe it would be wise to use a little caution. But when have teens ever understood the meaning of the word "caution"?

Hey, a Larger Thought: The new digital tools certainly make a lot possible and open up many fresh avenues. But maybe they also promote -- or encourage, or facilitate -- the irresponsible expression of immature impulsiveness. Why think before you act when blurting-it-out has become so easy and so fun?

Is the remaking of the world via digital media that's going on being done entirely for the benefit of teens? And how will people who have become addicted to the convenience and thrills of instant-expressive-gratification ever mature?



posted by Michael at May 30, 2008


Well by just about any measure impulsiveness has been on a 2000-year decline. This is worth emphasizing -- like how you hear about how violent the world became over the 20th C., when in reality it became less violent, continuing a centuries-long trend.

All that these new technologies do is spread information more quickly and widely than before. So, you can figure out more quickly that X is a binge-drinker because they upload lots of party pictures where they're passed out. You can more easily figure out that X is an exhibitionist by seeing how many of their pictures are mugging for the camera in front of a bathroom mirror.

So, blurting it out hasn't become any easier than thinking before you act -- it's just that outsiders learn of your blurts more quickly than before (when they may never have heard).

Indeed, the argument could go the other way -- that kids are going to start to think, "Oh shit, are they going to upload this to Facebook or YouTube?"

Either Steve Sailer or Inductivist posted on the downward swing in muggings or something over the past decade / decade and a half, and one of them suggested it was due to the ubiquity of cell phones.

Posted by: agnostic on May 30, 2008 12:46 PM

And how will people who have become addicted to the convenience and thrills of instant-expressive-gratification ever mature?

They won't Michael, They won't.

Posted by: Biff on May 30, 2008 12:58 PM

Does this mean you are ready to reconsider your immature and impulsive review of Mission to Mars? ;-)

Posted by: Fenster Moop on May 30, 2008 1:06 PM

"And how will people who have become addicted to the convenience and thrills of instant-expressive-gratification ever mature?"

Not to worry, Michael. As long as the actions that fall on the actor (eventually), there are ways that maturity can emerge (again, eventually). It's not instant gratification that interferes with maturity as much as lack of consequences.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on May 30, 2008 1:17 PM

Agnostic -- The New Restraint, alright. I wonder if it'll mean the end of Facebook ...

Biff -- Sigh, I suspect you're right.

Fenster -- Great to see you. As for rash and impulsive follies, I think I have a lot of them to atone for. But -- and what can I say? -- I enjoyed "Mission to Mars".

Lester -- "Consequences"? What's a "consequence"?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 30, 2008 2:11 PM

Pretty much agree with Agnostic. Behavior hasn't changed, it's just that a lot of it is broadcast now. To get perspective, think of the 50s dance shows and how the kids would crowd around the camera, mugging shamelessly. Well, now every kid has a camera that can broadcast to more people than Dick Clark ever dreamed of.

Posted by: JV on May 30, 2008 2:33 PM


It's gotten to the point where you can be tongue in cheek about the whole thing. On my facebook I post pics taken while completely sober that affect drunken stupor, as sort of an in-joke with my friends that got started a few years back. What looks impulsive is actually pretty calculated at times (and it's not like my boss is going to fire me for posing like I passed out awkwardly in a doghouse on my free time, even if somehow he did see it). Never underestimate the desire of youth to mess with older folk's heads, not that I'm *that* young anymore, it's just I haven't forgotten that phase.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on May 30, 2008 3:08 PM

The popularity of social networking sites has reinforced, to me at least, that we often have very little of substance to say.

Posted by: jonathanjones02 on May 30, 2008 10:30 PM

Facebook also lets authorities catch stupid kids doing stupid things.

See here.

Posted by: Rtother on May 31, 2008 8:00 PM

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