See Me, Click Me
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Google Dave Feinman.
Go ahead. Really. He wants you to.
Type his name as one word and you will soon know a lot about him -- through his home page and blog on MySpace.com and the Web site that bears his name. He's 27, engaged, Jewish, a Gemini and graduate student at the University of Central Florida who likes Beavis and Butt-head. In a few days, he will be moving to Washington to intern in the office of Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.). Coincidentally, Wexler's office is the subject of a TV documentary series that premieres in August.
"I don't put anything on MySpace that I wouldn't say to the face of anyone I meet," says Feinman. He says the Internet is "a very good way to express my feelings about politics or personal things."
Feinman is a primo example of an emerging archetype: the very public citizen. A publizen.
Though publizens are all ages and both sexes, they are predominantly young -- members of Generation Xtrovert. The recently released Pew Internet & American Life Project survey points out that more than half of the Internet's 12 million bloggers are under the age of 30.
In varying degrees, publizens grow up, fall in love, choose a college, drink too much, do good deeds, experiment with drugs and sex and kinky hairstyles, sit for tattoos, create art, enter 12-step programs, get hitched, give birth, go to work, file for divorce, die and do just about everything else in public. They build Web sites, produce blogs and star in reality television shows. They use new technologies to live in plain sight and newer technologies -- fancier phones, Web cams, digital video programs -- are being created so they can do just that.
Publizens welcome the klieg lights -- the glare, the heat, the exposure. British papers reported recently that Marie Osmond's teenage daughter Jessica put up a MySpace page revealing her sexual proclivities and listing Adolf Hitler as a hero. Young people have been kicked out of college for exhibiting pictures of themselves carousing.
People have given up on discretion. How else can you explain the unabashed Metro rider yakking about the most intimate details of her life on her cell phone? The endless erectile dysfunction advertisements on television? Why else would there be very personal videotapes online for all the world to see?
Tens of thousands of applicants have applied to live on camera in reality shows.
"This generation wants to be known, they want to be famous," Chris DeWolfe, a cofounder of MySpace.com recently told Vanity Fair. "This generation is self-involved, but they're also self-aware."
Don't these people understand the value of privacy?