But his obsessive online habits are hardly exceptional; he is one of a generation of compulsive self-chroniclers, a fleet of juvenile Marcel Prousts gone wild. When he meets new friends in real life, M. offers them access to his online world. ”That’s how you introduce yourself,” he said. ”It’s like, here’s my cellphone number, my e-mail, my screen name, oh, and — here’s my LiveJournal. Personally, I’d go to that person’s LJ before I’d call them or e-mail them or contact them on AIM” — AOL Instant Messenger — ”because I would know them better that way.” …But for a significant number, they become a way of life, a daily record of a community’s private thoughts — a kind of invisible high school that floats above the daily life of teenagers.
The article, which focuses on the community journals like Xanga and Live Journal and Blurty, was actually pretty eye-opening for me as I really haven’t delved into that “world” very much. Here’s a bit of her description:
Blogging is a replication of real life: each pool of blogs is its own ecosystem, with only occasional links to other worlds. As I surfed from site to site, it became apparent that as much as journals can break stereotypes, some patterns are crushingly predictable: the cheerleaders post screen grabs of the Fox TV show ”The O.C.”; kids who identify with ”ghetto” culture use hip-hop slang; the geeks gush over Japanese anime. And while there are exceptions, many journal writers exhibit a surprising lack of curiosity about the journals of true strangers. They’re too busy writing posts to browse.
Ok, now I know there are a lot of kids out there who are blogging. But a genereation of Prousts? Either I’m really missing the boat, or the kids at my school are all blogging under the radar. I only know of a couple of kids who are keeping Live Journal sites, and for all of the blogs I’ve created for students, I rarely hear of anyone with their own personal sites. Guess I need to do a little more investigating, ’cause I would really, really like to talk to them in depth about their blogging experiences and feelings. And I’d be interested to hear what other teachers out there are experiencing in terms of students keeping personal journals.