Ah, those little stamped metal keys that were supposed to keep your sister's diary safe from prying eyes (a screwdriver worked as well. Sorry, sis!). Today, that diary has become a MySpace page and the secret crush is the guy draped over the keg on her Facebook gallery.
Something big changed over the past decade as a long trend of diminished privacy suddenly flipped to radical transparency. I suspect that most people who put their innermost thoughts online don't really expect them to be read by anyone other than their friends (a strategy known as "security through obscurity"), and sometimes not even them. Still, Michael Kinsley has an amusing take on the new era of living in public:
"But anonymity does not actually seem to interest many of the Web's most devoted users. They are the ones who start their own sites, or sign up for MySpace, or submit videos to YouTube. Quite the opposite: The most successful Web sites seem to be those where people can abandon anonymity and use the Internet to stake their claims as unique individuals. Here is a list of my friends. Here are all the CDs in my collection. Here is a picture of my dog. On the Internet, not only does everybody know that you're a dog. Everybody knows what kind of dog, how old, your taste in collars, your favorite dog food recipe, and so on."