Living: Generation Narration

I dyed my hair and posted a photo of it on my Facebook page. While talking to my mother the next day I asked if she had seen it. She replied "Oh, I never get on there. I don't really think anyone cares what my status us." This got me thinking.

Before I fill in the little white box and answer "What's on your mind?" I never stop to ask myself "Does anyone care what I am doing?" I just say what I am doing, or more often than not I post a witty refrence to music/tv/movies. I fill in that little white box and send my thoughts out into the universe with no regard to where they go. Then I realized: for most of my thought-generating life, I have always had an outlet for those random quips, quotes and updates.

It all began with AOL and AIM. Dial-up was so slow and a successful internet connection was so precious that once you were on-line you wouldn't dream of logging off. However, sometimes you needed to take a shower / go to class / make a sandwich / etc. You needed a way to tell the world "Hey, my computer is on but I'm not here." Behold the birth of the away message. Intended as simply an answering machine of sorts, meant to receive missed messages, it became a new creative platform. You could reflect your mood and comment on your activities. Even if friends had nothing to say to you, they could read your away message and get a sense of what was going on in your life. Some might call this mild stalking, I prefer to think of it as keeping in touch. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

The real beauty of the system is that AIM would save past away messages for you. At any given moment you could have an arsenal of witty messages to whip out when appropriate. For example: I could always tell when my friend was showering because his away message was "gettin so fresh and so clean, clean." Creepy that I knew he was showering? Yes. But it let me know not to involve him in any immediate plans - a must when college students are constantly doing things in the spur of the moment.

Eventually AIM died out and was replaced by Facebook. At its core you had a place to upload photos, videos and personal information, but at the top of the screen was a place for your "status." Then came Twitter which was nothing but status messages. Even Gmail, as part of its chat feature, had "available" "busy" and "away" options that include a personalized message.

Even blogging is just a more sophisticated version of the status message - you write and you publish not knowing what will come of it. It is true self-expression. When you have the freedom to say whatever you feel, without worrying who will read it or if they will like it, it is easy to unload what's on your mind.

Is it time consuming? Sometimes. Self indulgent? Probably. Does it define my generation? Absolutely.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'm just updating you that I'm sitting in the HITW ticket office reading your blog.

I would have been in costume to sing had I know that I would be singing!! I was only supposed to watch the baseball game!!! Being famous is not so easy ;)

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