I’ve been studying Facebook comments lately.  Mostly of teens and young adults.  Often times over the top comments, or “way too much” thoughts.

I come from a generation that, when we published our thoughts, they came out in limited editions – in a journal that only a few friends saw, or print books that were accessible or available only in limited numbers.

Our kids seemed to have caught the ethos that whatever they say will only go as far as the friends they want to reach with their thoughts, much like we did with our journals or print books.  Except, the media has changed.  They write on Facebook, or Twitter, or blog.

When I began at library school in the mid 80’s the internet was just beginning.  Librarians were on the leading edge of information dissemination.  We saw this internet in its infancy.  Little did we fully realize what we were experiencing would become so widespread.  And interestingly, one of the greatest fuels for the spread was the desire to allow illicit material free rein (ask if the “Playboys” of the old days would have such wide coverage as they have in their many forms today, if they had not financed ways to make the illicit easily available and accessible — programming that has benefitted the disbursement of the good as well!).

One thing I realized early on — publishing would no longer be restricted to a few authors or readers.  My blog is available around the world, anytime, anywhere for all time (there are archives on the internet where you can find snippets of information that you hoped had disappeared — even Facebook has its archives of everything that is posted!).  And anything you write can be cut and pasted (by friends or enemies), and then emailed and forwarded around the world.

Youth and young adults will soon begin to rein in their enthusiasm for social networks.  They may like the world, but the world will not always like them.  And they will want to restrict who sees what, when and where.  Facebook recognized this early on, but not all subscribers take advantage of restricted access — they still figure “friendship” means total exposure.  But “friends” are deep and shallow.  If we comment and speak to the “deep”, the “shallow” are either stunned or use the information improperly.

And so, I predict that in the next few years this internet generation will become more rule bound than their older counterparts.  Just when the baby boomers are trying to reconnect through social networks, the younger generations will be working to make these social networks more restrictive.

What do you think?