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Blogging & Voyeurism July 3, 2008

Posted by Sarah in reflections.
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I have a story I tell about how my dissertation developed.  Way back when in 2002 I was thinking about blogs as identity tools.  When I told people about the project, I noticed a HUGE generational split; people over the age of 40 thought that bloggers were exhibitionists and blog readers were voyeurs, while people under the age of about 25 were very nonchalant about the practice.  (Obviously I’m generalizing; I know bloggers who are over 40 and I know people who are part of the “internet generation” who adamantly will not blog and will not read personal blogs.)  It was this generational split that led me to begin looking at my actual topic, how bloggers are negotiating the public/private distinction.

I was recently reading Carolyn Miller & Dawn Shepherd’s 2004 article “Blogging as Social Action” and came across a very relevant quote addressing this question of voyeurism.

“…voyeurism more generally strikes us as an unseemly interest in others as curiosities, not as moral equals…”

This brought me back to that very early thinking and I started wondering about WHY bloggers and blog readers don’t generally seem to be exhibitionists/voyeurs.  I think the difference really lies in the “moral equals” angle – bloggers view each other more or less as equals, so there’s no possibility of their reading being a voyeuristic activity.  Obviously there may be exceptions to this, but fundamentally I think bloggers and blog readers view their relationships as one of equals rather than one of unequal power.

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Comments»

1. David Brake - July 12, 2008

IMHO it’s not that bloggers see each other as equals – it’s that they see the unknown reader as a) like themselves b) interested in them as people and c) benign (probably also as equals but that’s not the main characteristic).


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