Steven Levy & Susan Sontag are my “friends”

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13 February 2009

An article in the January 19 issue of Wired magazine by Steven Levy captures my feelings about social networking — “Author’s Online Activities” — aptly. He writes about the inevitable cycles of under- and over-participation:

…driven by guilt, I try to pitch in. I post Facebook status reports, send iPhone snapshots to Flickr, link my Netflix queue with FriendFeed. But as my participation increases, I invariably suffer another psychic downside of social networking: remorse… It’s one thing to share intimacies person- to-person. But with a community? Creepy.

Creepy, indeed. 

And yet, here we are.  I’ve not yet read Susan Sontag’s recently published journals, but here’s a pull-quote I’m chewing on:  

In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person; I create myself.  

Is the blog the modern journal?  Sontag might say so: One of the main (social) functions of a journal is precisely to be read furtively by other people.

Do we think, then, that blogging can be generative in itself, and not just the chatter which comments on or points (links, etc) us to substance?   I wonder: do bloggers — in putting themselves to the virtual page almost daily, for others to behold and ingest — actually build a thinking and creating self?  

(Literary memoirist David Shields has been thinking and writing on this — the phenomenon of “reality” writing — for a long time and has much smarter things to say about it than I.   I’m not sure how much he’s explored (divulged) the effects/experience of self-revealing writing on the writer himself…  but check out his forthcoming book, Reality Hunger.)

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