Emily Gould’s “Exposed”

If you’re interested in the social media and privacy issue you might like reading Emily Gould’s “Exposed” article, which ran in the New York Times Magazine last weekend. You might also like perusing some of the 1200 comments that the article has spawned.

While many of the commenters are highly-critical of Ms. Gould’s self-centred article about her career as a self-centred blogger, only a few I read acknowledged the irony of entering the public forum themselves in publishing a comment. This may very well demonstrate irresistibility of online expression and the power and relevance of the social media phenomenon. Yes it will shape the law of information and privacy, but it has even greater socio-cultural significance.

I am an obvious fan of Web 2.0 and its potential, but in reading this article it struck me that the extent to which we are relying on online experiences to supplant real world experiences is troubling. Take Ms. Gould’s use of instant messenger technology:

But because we were so busy, we continued to I.M. most of the time, even when we were sitting right next to each other. Soon it stopped seeming weird to me when one of us would type a joke and the other one would type “Hahahahaha” in lieu of actually laughing.

And then, “Depending on how you looked at it, I either had no life and I barely talked to anyone, or I spoke to thousands of people constantly.”

The very best comment I read was from “Flynn” from Los Angeles, who reminds us about what is real in our increasingly virtual world. He tells Ms. Gould, “Turn off the computer, drive to Coney Island and jump in the ocean. Cleanse yourself and start all over again. You won’t be missing a thing.” Must be a surfer.

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