"I didn't have a sense of style," says the 22-year-old IT manager from Hoboken, N.J.
So, on Sept. 1, 2005, he posted pictures of his wardrobe on DressKevin.com, and asked 15 friends to vote on outfits and give suggestions for new duds. Less than a year later, his Web site attracts up to 15,000 visitors daily.
The attention has astounded Kevin, who says he believes his guests take the time to give advice because they genuinely want to help him.
Kevin's site is far from being the only interactive hot spot on the Web. Cyber networking spaces host millions of (mostly young) people: MySpace has 65 million users, Xanga 45 million, and Facebook 7.5 million. In these sites, average Joes and Janes are able to share news, ideas, and photos in their Web logs, which are online journals nicknamed "blogs."
Who's Boss of the Blogosphere?
There are nearly 36 million blogs on the Internet, and a new blog is created every second of every day, according to the blog search engine Technorati.
The mushrooming outlet for online self-expression has spawned numerous questions, including:
WebMD has some answers for these questions, provided by experts in psychology, psychiatry, and sociology. Of course, their opinions are only part of the picture. You, as a member of today's "netizens," are used to having much more say about the state of things, and may want to post your own ideas about the subject.
"We all want to be on the red carpet like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie," says Michael Brody, M.D., chair of the TV & Media Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He says today's Internet users are accustomed to being the celebrities and content of cyberspace. It's an attitude fueled by the popularization of average people in reality TV shows.
The Need to Blog
Ordinary people at the helm of blogs are one of the main reasons why they are so attractive to netizens.
"It's easy to latch on to certain characters if they're more like us," says Brody. He says identification is a particular draw for teenagers — a large population of bloggers — because they are still trying to establish their own personalities.
Many teens check out what their peers are saying online to figure out their own voice. They also try out various personas with different screen names and sites. It's all just part of the role-playing and risk-taking that is normally part of adolescence.