Saturday, March 10, 2007

QotW6: Don't Get Caught In The Act


At “Hollywood’s most hated website” perezhilton.com, privacy is the last thing on everyone’s mind. With paparazzi lurking at every corner hoping to get the latest and juiciest gossip, celebrities have to be on their toes all the time- even if it means having to wear underwear and not shaving your own head bald in the middle of the night. The popularity of celebrity gossip sites like Perez Hilton are fueled by the common-folk who yearn to catch a glimpse of how the stars wine, dine, party and self-destruct. Unfortunately, privacy is one privilege that the celebrities can never buy. The paparazzi will always be their shadows. Although we the mere mortals of this world do not have “stalkers” watching our every move, yet we do have our own little grudges about people invading our personal space.

The ironic thing about some bloggers is that they are exhibitionists but at the same time they want to preserve some form of privacy. They want the world to know about their existence therefore every snippet of their life is documented- what they ate (crunchy fried grasshoppers), what they did (tried a bomb experiment in the backyard), what happened (got kidnapped by a psycho), etc. They post pictures of everything- family and friends, their homes, and perhaps even naked torsos. But when they become more prolific, more bloggers find themselves having to deal with issues of privacy and liability. That’s when they start limiting access to readership to their entries. This does not apply though to the A-list bloggers who encourage voyeurism- blog-hopping to read about the happenings in the daily lives of complete strangers. They seem to encourage this by being so open with the intimate details of their lives.

Xiaxue a prominent blogger in Singapore admits regretting some of the things she’s written but she’s fine with being so transparent. “[I regret] things that affect my friend’s privacy that I didn’t really consider and then I just put it online.” But she’s never felt any invasion of privacy with so many pair of eyes reading her blog every day. “I’m ok with it. I never had issues with privacy even when I was younger. I always tell my friends everything.” (Yuen, 2005) In The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera examines the phenomenon of graphomania - the pathological desire to express yourself in writing before a public of unknown readers. People are always experiencing the constant din of intimate typing; the information that they give is endless personal disclosure. (Rosen, 2004)

While I do blog, I’m neither catering to a worldwide audience nor hoping to get thousands of hits in a day. My purpose is more intimate- sharing the occurrences in my life with people I know. That said, it means people that I’ve seen and talked to face to face before and not just some complete stranger whom I know by a pseudonym. My entries are locked for friend’s eyes only. I want to keep things safely under personal boundaries; I don’t want to end up having an archive of content that can be used against me. Only when I know the audience I’m writing for I can be comfortable. I certainly don’t want my parents reading my gripes about them or having anonymous comments describing you were sighted where, when, and with whom. The thing is, voyeurism only thrives at the expense of privacy. The more people are willing to sacrifice their privacy, the more voyeurism grows. Back in 2004, Robert Steinbuch, former legal counsel for now-displaced Republican senator Mike DeWine, started an affair with a young woman in his office. The woman was intern-cum-celebrity blogger Jessica Cutler who had been detailing their sexual encounters including tidbits like Steinbuch's spanking habits and dislike of condoms, in her blog, Washingtonienne. (Lafsky, 2006) Steinbuch had to leave D.C in disgrace and he accepted a teaching job in Arkansas, leaving Washington and Jessica behind. Now that the Internet is allowing strangers to observe us even as we observe them, even ordinary citizens like us have to worry more about being caught off guard. (Rosen, 2004) At Perez Hilton, the celebrities don’t even think about escaping.


References:

Lafsky, M. (2006). Sex, Bloggers & Privacy: Let The Lawsuits Begin. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith/Identity/IdentityDeception.html

Rosen, J. (2004). The Naked Crowd. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith/Identity/IdentityDeception.html

Yuen, Y. Y. (2005). People. Retrieved March 10, 2007, from http://www.theurbanwire.com/stories/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=316&Itemid=57

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Jessica Cutler got a good book deal out of it. It's not all bad. :)

Good thoughts = full grades.