Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

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In praise and damnation of Too Much Information

One of my favorite LJ expressions is "too much information". I love that as we constantly redefine the constraints and community of communication, we all wrestle a bit with the issue of how much to reveal. Some of us reveal stark truths and startling lies, without even the modest comfort of a "friends" filter. A few of us speak in riddles, although frankly I have found some riddles rather obvious in their would-be abstruseness, while certain riddles disguised as real life pass by my inner "from Missouri" altogether, only to be revealed to me as metaphor when I least expected it.

It's refreshing, really, that people want to liberate themselves from the cake molds of "propriety" and "reticence" and place in their weblogs things they would not tell family or bosom friend.

It's shocking, really, that people want to liberate themselves from the sensible gifts such as propriety and reticence and place in their weblogs things they would have sense enough not to tell family or bosom friend.

Today has been a "dozens of tasks" day for me, when, prior to a brief road trip, I had to tie up more loose ends than a pre-K soccer coach passing out the new long-laced cleats. I met with clients old and new, learned arcane mysteries and embarassing home truths. It's interesting working in a field in which people tell one things in confidence; frankly, though, it's not exciting at all. Once one has learned the things that people don't want to tell anyone, one realizes that secrets are not the "secret" to some form of higher knowledge.

In the weblog world, journals can tell us so many different things.
One journal can alternate between meditations on the importance of altruism and detachment from passions on the one hand and rather vivid descriptions of hedonistic weekends filled with the proverbial sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll on the other. Another journal can seem almost outrageously outre in the sheer down to earth-ness and normalcy of the journalist. Even the polls are curious things--how many goth and sex polls can be written?

I had a fantasy tonight of writing a different type of poll. "What kind of Accountant are You?". Based on the usual inane answers to the usual inane questions, the poll would pronounce people to be "Enron Accountants", "WorldCom Accountants", or, worst of all, "Government Procurements Accountants". The point of the poll, other than allowing me to make fun of financial scandals, would be to allow people to find their inner boring selves, and to answer questions which do not require Too Much Information. Sample question--would you rather (a) inflate assets by disguising expenses as investments; (b) make projections that won't ever come true; (c) create circular transactions so complicated that nobody will see you're broke? or (d) write financials that pretend that selling Sunbeams solves all problems?
I doubt, though, that anyone would take this poll. It's just not intimate enough, unless I change the title to "What Accounting Sex Toy are you?".

But that paragraph seriously digresses. I come not to bury "TMI", but to both praise and damn it. On the one hand, I love the way in which journalists let me "into their lives", even with details that might otherwise be considered transgressions into one's private space. On the other hand, once in a long while, I wonder if I don't learn more than I really need to know. I wonder this in particular when I believe that I infer more than the journalist means to tell me.

This is not a rant for the premise that people should "tell less". People should tell what they want to tell, as much or as little. I believe a sort of novelistic integrity should apply, but that integrity does not quota "how much secret stuff" must be told. Instead, this is just to note that I am both deeply impressed and sometimes mildly jarred by things I read on LiveJournal. This is a good thing. This is a terrible thing. Most of all, this is a very different thing. What do I think of it? I'll decide, after I hit "update journal". But I will note, as I depart this topic, that everytime the cut-tag appears over something really intriguingly "private", I'm the first to hit that hyperlink, and yet I'm probably also the first to wonder "shouldn't this post be 'friends-only', my friend" when I see a really private post. Parenthetically, I've still not used "friends only" in my journal, although someday I'm sure I will. I wish that I could say that it's because I'm a daring coveter of my deepest soul secrets, but I think it's because I'm really not that intensely fascinating, and there's so little to hide. But maybe I'm just constrained, and don't realize it.

I'm still thinking on all this--thank goodness there's not a pop quiz.

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