Sunday, December 28, 2008

Anonymity and the Web

There's something about blogs and about personal websites that makes me feel almost like a voyeur. Here are people I have never met, I have never spoken to, I have never even exchanged an e-mail with. And somehow, I have stumbled across their website.

Bigger, more popular blogs/websites (like or are personal and their authors have something of a cult following. We know the authors' names (their full names) and they have book deals. They're something of Internet celebrities. It doesn't seem as weird to "spy" on them via their websites, any more than it feels weird to read about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in a magazine.

But the smaller websites (through blogspot or wordpress) seem like personal items, like little bulletin boards posted for friends and family. Because they have inside jokes, they have stories that can only be truly appreciated by those who know the writer well. Is that weird to think so? I assume that those who know Heather and Clotilde appreciate their websites more (dooce and chocolateandzucchini) and understand the stories better. Does that mean those of us who do not know them should just give up and go for websites of our nearest and dearest?

I have met a few people online, through this blog and through their blogs, via comments and quick e-mails and such. Those people have all been wonderful, but I find myself asking ... why I find them so wonderful if they lived close to me? They've all conveniently been people who live at least 300 miles away. I know that I find safety in such proximity (lack of proximity, really) and such distance is what enables us to be Internet friends (very different than real friends. For real friends, I will hold their hair back while they puke up the Jagermeister that they thought would be such a delicious aperitif. (Oh, my grammar ... my horrible, horrible grammar!) For Internet friends, I could perhaps be bothered to e-mail a picture of a bottle of Jagermeister with a "Happy New Year!" on it. Yes, I'm a mean Internet friend).

Does that make our "friendship" less significant? I think not. I think it's just a whole new type of friend. We have our best friends, we have our work friends, our school friends, our drinking buddies, our dinner dates ... and now Internet friends. I know that in my world, my best friends and my work friends do not mix well. I know that my school friends are sometimes my drinking buddies, but not all my drinking buddies are my school friends. There are several groups, cliques, that are in my head, and I know who can mix in with whom, and who should never meet. (Like a giant Venn diagram ... remember Venn diagrams?? I loved them. Dork.)

The Internet is a great equalizer, and also a scary thing. In the electronic age, I hope that we figure out how to handle it before madness occurs (such as Heather getting fired from her job ( because of her website. That's complete and utter moronicness).

My strange spiel is over. I guess in this last week of the year 2008, I've been summing up my thoughts in my head and some of it came spilling out, tripping over my keyboard to come up with this word vomit.

Back to watching "My Name is Kim SamSoon" (내 이름은 김삼순) ... despite my previous post about Korean dramas, this one is not only holding my interest, but making me root for it! Go SamSoon, go!