The End of Trust

HRAG VARTANIAN IS an art blogger at Hyperallergic so dedicated to writing about his personal life that he had to warn his husband when they started dating that he couldn’t dictate what he did and didn’t blog about.

“I had to make it clear and say, ‘Look, just so you know, everything is fair game,'” Mr. Vartanian said. “It’s just the nature of what I do. You’re just gonna have to deal with it.”

Mr. Vartanian, 37, balks when acquaintances tell him not to tweet about something they’ve said, or declare a banal observation to be “off the record.”

“I don’t understand it at all, especially when it’s something as simple as ‘so-and-so dated so-and-so but don’t tell them I told you,'” Mr. Vartanian said. “I’m like, who cares? Something simple like that? We’re in New York City! I mean, everyone’s dated everyone, you know? It’s not a huge deal, but people do that all the time.”

As far as Mr. Vartanian is concerned, if something really happened, people shouldn’t be embarrassed to discuss it. “I’m like, either it’s a fact or it isn’t!” he explained.

But even evangelists of blanket transparency like Mr. Vartanian admit that they’re keeping more to themselves than ever before.

“I’m starting to think about it more and more-I love to joke around and be snarky, but I’m being much more conscientious about it than I used to be because you realize people can take that and transform it,” he said.

For Nathan Heller, a 26-year-old writer for Slate, there are rewards in resisting the pressure to be unobjectionable.

“A few weeks ago, I went to see an illustrious 60-something poet read his work at a jazz club-he’s done this for years; it’s his thing-and the poems he read carried him into this uncomfortable, sometimes confessional-type place,” Mr. Heller said in an email. “He seemed to come apart a little at the microphone. It was a sharp, immediate performance, and a moving one, because it was so candid. And I realized that I couldn’t imagine anyone our age doing this, ever-not something that raw and exposed. Which alarmed me.”

Mr. Heller cited a remark a colleague of his at Slate made to him not long ago: “Tweet that, coward! You make a career by getting on people’s shitlists, not by staying off them.”

Mr. Heller noted that he was paraphrasing, and declined to disclose the name of his colleague, just in case.

lneyfakh@observer.com

 

VIEW SIDEBAR > A HISTORY OF THE END OF TRUST

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