Arts & Culture
O’BRIEN | The Internet’s Appetite for Confessional Writing
By KATIE O’BRIEN
When browsing through my favorite online publications, I often end up reading stories told in the first person. The Internet is a hotbed for first person writing, be it on social media or through personal essays. This type of writing is often confessional in nature, discussing traumatic experiences or social taboos. I didn’t think much about the implications of this phenomenon, until a Slate article about confessional writing recently went viral, starting a discussion among publications and on social media about whether the nature of confessional writing on the Internet is a positive thing, and about the effect of making these confessions can have on the confessor. In the article, entitled “The First Person Industrial Complex,” Laura Bennett argues that in a digital media landscape where a claim to originality is hard to come by, “first person essays have become the easiest way for editors to stake out some small corner of a news story and assert and on-the-ground primacy … and [they] have also become the easiest way to jolt an increasingly jaded Internet to attention, as the bar for provocation has risen higher and higher.” So while confessional writing has become an important part of Internet culture, Bennett argues that their publication is often reckless and self-serving.