Friday, May 23, 2008

Blogs, and Privacy, and Young Literati, Oh My

To comment on Emily Gould is to collude in the gratuitousness of the blogosphere, except that I actually have something to say (I will also admit that I glanced at both blogs and chased down the Josh Stein Page Six Magazine story, but that says something about my own narrative compulsions, not the blogosphere).

One moment that struck me was her comment about Julia Allison:

But in the midst of this artifice she was disarmingly straightforward about how badly she craved the attention that Internet exposure gave her — even though it came at the expense of constant, intensely vitriolic mockery.

What I don't get about current celebrity, whether made up (Julia Allison) or real (Angelina Jolie) (I know, it's a specious distinction, but somehow it seems to matter: Heidi and Spencer, whoever they are: made up; Amy Winehouse: real--the difference, of course, is that real celebrities have done something to become celebrities, while made up celebrities are simply celebrities, not singers or actresses or politicians or baseball players), anyway, what I do not get is the desire for attention and publicity of any kind. I saw a quote like this from Spencer (whoever he is) recently to the effect that any attention, negative or positive, is good for the brand. I mean, I'm a total attention whore. I love public speaking. I love people knowing about me. I want the world to think I'm the greatest--and that's the key: I only want the attention if it is positive, adulating adoration. I can't bear people to think ill of me, especially people I don't know or who don't know me. This, I think, is the most profound generational difference, not the desire to live one's life in public--which obviously I do to some extent, here with the anonymity schtick, but elsewhere (LinkedIn, website, etc.) fully visibly, albeit professionally rather than personally--but the disregard for the nature of attention, so long as it is attention.

The other quote that struck me, this time in identification rather than disidentification, was this one:

The will to blog is a complicated thing, somewhere between inspiration and compulsion. It can feel almost like a biological impulse. You see something, or an idea occurs to you, and you have to share it with the Internet as soon as possible. What I didn’t realize was that those ideas and that urgency — and the sense of self-importance that made me think anyone would be interested in hearing what went on in my head — could just disappear.

That seems very right, though Emily Gould does not seem to have lost that sense of self-importance, whereas I think I am very much losing it (I started a post earlier today about which of the 1001 books I have read--a much smaller number than the ones I recognize, which seems to say something about the nature of cultural literacy--and then decided that it didn't really matter, and deleted).

As for Emily Gould and the article overall, I'd say Kottke nails it, so no need for me to say anything more.

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