Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How will I stalk people while I'm abroad?

Okay so here is one of my biggest challenges about going to Ghana for a while is going to be dealing with my addiction(s) to social networking sites, blogs, personal webpages and instant messenger application. I'm a gadget fiend. I have two ipods, have owned more than 7 or 8 cell phones, and have had two laptops in the past 4 years. You can chat with me on Gchat (two gchat accounts), AIM, Facebook and Skype. ( I USED to have Yahoo chat and ICQ) I have a blog, a Myspace and a Facebook account. And this is barring my old LiveJournal and Xanga.

So this information could mean several things. 1) Maybe I waste my money on too much stuff. 2) Maybe I have too much free time on my hands 3) I'm just so damn cute and popular, I must make a way to communicate with all of my fans and adoring subjects! 4) I am using these online interfaces to span my thoughts and ideas through what Arjun Appadurai calls the "technoscape" no longer needing to mind the limits of time and space, which are undergoing compression in this age of accelerated global flows and disjuctures.

Or maybe its a mix of all those sauces.

Anyway, I like feeling connected. I like knowing whats going on in the lives of my friends, family, friends of friends, siblings of friends, classmates, professors, co-workers, family friends, acquantainces, old schoolmates, one time hookups, the-person-you-liked-but-never-had-the-balls-to-act-on-it, exes, ex-flings, ex-flings of my ex-flings, the library janitor, the bus driver, as well as the friendly neighborhood SharPei named Chan Chan (He has 552 friends on Facebook) Point is: I'm a stalker.

I like to know what people are up to, what they are spending their time doing, or thinking about. I like to know their favorite things, bands, movies, their zodiac sign, and maybe "What Type of Sex and the City Character??" they score on those quizzes. Yea, with internet, I dont even need to talk to you to know these things about your life! Sweet and easy access to information. Or maybe it works the other way around. Maybe if I put up my interests, and you get a basic glimpse into who I am (at least at school) as a person and what I like, maybe its advertising to make people want to get to know you. Facebook/Myspace and the like act like "preview". You can see my profile and get a preview of me, like a movie trailer. If you like what you see, you can invest more (read: like, actually engaging me in conversation) and then, you shall receive more. Simple.

But on the other hand, maybe my dad is right. He posits that people who post online in blogs and journals and such are only in it for the ego. ( Ouch Daddy) Could be true. But I argue that perhaps the explosion in online networking, blogging, facebooking and myspacing is in contrast to what I would call the Cult(ure) of Privacy. Lets face it, in America, we are OBSESSED WITH PRIVACY.

Or at least we were.America is obsessed with privacy when it comes to mental health, phyisical health, disclosure of my school grades, gender orientation, STD testing, political affiliation, survey and questionnaire responses, telephone conversations, my activities online, boxers vs briefs, and female weight. We lamented at how certain government initiatives began to monitor ordinary citizens as an invasion of our Cult(ure) of Privacy. The first order of the CoP is that Americans, who prize individualism as a cornerstone of progress and democracy, are entitled to live their lives completely free of prying eyes and ensuing public judgment.

But are we starting to see the light and convert from this Cult(ure)? People now do not hesistate about posting their addresses, cell phone numbers, class schedules, gender orientations, political affliations, or their employment history. I can see whether youre in a relationship, or when you're single. I can also browse through your pictures and see that clearly while drunk last weekend, you Kissed a girl at the Keg and you liked it, and because of that your life must be so much cooler than mine. Even though we moan and whine about how the government is encroaching on our privacy, we live in a world where we ( me included) are obssessed with celebrity weight, eating disorders, pregancies, drug abuses. The fact that we have paparazzi willing to buy high powered lenses to get pictures of celebs flashing NSFW body parts exiting cars, sunbathing, picking their noses, and stuffing their faces, and furthermore get paid millions for some of these shots leads me to believe that we don't buy into the doctrines of our own Cult(ure) of Privacy.

Where is this coming from, this eagerness to share (read: overshare) about ourselves and our lives and stalk other peoples? Perhaps has this Cul(ture) of Privacy has eroded away our simple notions of community and connectedness and as a result, maybe we are trying to get it back? Or are we just self-obsessed narcissists?

Yup, the parents are looking for you too. Thought Mommy was computer illiterate eh?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is totally reason #3. And yes... this is a prime example of me doing exactly this: stalking. lol, can't help it