Wednesday, December 1, 2010

If Mark Twain were on facebook what would his status be?


This morning as I was listening to NPR, I was struck by the similarities between two apparently unrelated stories.

In the first story, a class on Social Media at Stanford gave students pause as they discovered just how much of their lives they've hung out there via Facebook. From unfortunate wall posts to mom seeing the party the night before to grad schools looking up years of status updates, students connected their nearly limitless public exposure via Facebook to a level of vulnerability they didn't want.

The prediction is that the new wave in social media will make it easier to dramatically limit who has access to your info. You will give more detail to fewer people.

In the second story, the editors of Mark Twain's autobiography talked about why he required publishers to wait a full 100 years after his death before making his autobiography public. Apparently, he didn't want to damage his reputation, influence readers of his books, or make his family open to attack.

Just imagine what he would think of Facebook, (much less reality TV). I'm guessing he would use it, but very judiciously. He would keep a clear line between his writing for the public and his personal life. After all, the man loved his privacy so much he had a pen name.

Twain's 100 year wait is an extreme, but so is the approximately five seconds it takes to make the running autobiography that is a Facebook status. Bottom line, none of us actually wants all our laundry - dirty or clean - aired all the time to everyone.

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