The number of places where young people go to bare their souls, to vent, to gossip is increasing. These places are the blogs – where people post their innermost thoughts for any number of Web surfers to see.
“My philosophy is to be totally honest – whether it’s about my neighbor’s dog or my opinions about Iraq war, since the people who read my blog are friends or acquaintances of mine.” said Sarah, who lives in suburban Illinois and has been blogging for three years.
But some people find that a price can be paid for putting one’s life online. Maya Marcel-Keyes, daughter of conservative politician Alan Keyes, had some discussions on her blog about being a lesbian, and this became an issue during her father’s recent campaign for U.S. Senate because he made anti-gay statements.
Such incidents can cause personal and public dramas, often taking on a life they wouldn’t have if the Web had not come along and turned individuals into publishers.
Other people think that some blog entries about partying and dating exploits will have ramifications down the road.
“I would bet that in the 2016 election, somebody’s Facebook entry will come back to bite them,”, says Steve Jones, head of the communications department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, referring to a networking site for college students and alumni, that is something of a cross between a yearbook and a blog.
Some traditional blog sites, like Xanga, LiveJournal or MySpace, which allow easy creation of a Web site with text, photos and often music, have gotten more popular in recent years, especially among the younger set.
Pew Internet & American Life Project made some surveys completed in recent months and found that nearly a fifth of teens who have access to the Web have their own blogs. And 38 percent of teens say they read other people’s blogs.
I’m increasingly hearing stories about the risk of posting a blog, says Amanda Lenhart, a researcher at Pew. For example, a man whose daughter was a college student looking for a job. He typed his daughter’s name into a search engine and found her blog, with a title that began “The Drunken Musings of ….”
“And they surely have some discussions” said Lenhart, chuckling.