I graduated college and hurriedly spent one balmy summer month in a
shoebox apartment somewhere in the Lower East Side. This was where I
first heard of the website “myspace.com“. My closest companion’s
roommate and old childhood friend lie lazily on the couch, clicking
and smiling on her and to her iBook. I asked what she was so
interested in, she replied, “Oh I’m just on myspace. What is your
profile name, I’ll add you.” Add me to what? I had no idea what she
was talking about. “Oh my god. How do you not know what myspace is?”
Her reply struck me as odd. I was not yet familiar with the practice
of laptop addiction and dependency.
Computers are possibly the single most addictive habit the greater
populous of Metropolitian culture has in common. It can be the hardest
item to avoid interacting with on a daily basis. Somehow we feel
connected and can temporarily validate our lives in what these
machines offer us. Myspace.com did not peak my curiosity until I
found myself living with my parents temporarily between moving from
the east coast to the west. Bored and tired of a rural-suburban life,
crammed in rooms with my immediate family who continually attempted
to make sense of my future and what it’s outcome should be, I retired
to the computer for escape. I looked up everything I wanted to know
on wikipedia. I soon found myself lurking on myspace.com. I was
scared of creating a profile. The commitment and attention it seemed
to demand was over-whelming. I took a few pictures of myself in my
room, upstairs at my parents house, in suburban Pennsylvania. I
loaded them on the family desktop and uploaded them to the community
site. I felt nothing but complete foolishness. I felt vain and
almost embarrassed that I was climbing aboard a social community that
appeared as an easy way to sell yourself to strangers and old friends
we lose touch with.
I’m hooked. I can’t tear myself from checking my messages and
searching for more friends that are hip to this device. Wow. I found
my first roommate in college. I found my childhood best friend. I
found my intern from my first job in LA. Wow. I found my BOSS.
Everyone is on to this. 100 to 134 to 217 to 348 friends I find. It
makes me feel less guilty about failing to phone or text e-mail my
friends. I post bulletins, I create answers to profile questions that
make me seem hip and confident. I wonder what others with whom I am merely
an acquaintance with are thinking of when they look at my profile. I
start making judgements about strangers and long-lost friends.
Eventually it loses it’s appeal. I learn from my “hip” friends about
Flickr.com. A website that hosts personal still photo diaries one can
share with the world or with a few select people that are members of
it, too. I’ve made two accounts to date. Each horribly neglected and
not worth a damn. At least I can see my other friends stuff. It does
not catch on to the masses as well as some predicted. It’s doing well
but, not as well as myspace.
Along comes youtube.com . This site appeals to this connected
audience with such an aggressive popularity that I found myself still
curious as to how I went from being skeptical about it’s function to
daily glued to it’s immeasurable usefullness and often pleasantly
surprising it’s user with it’s content.
I worked at the headquarters of a web community site. I like to say I
“managed the product”. I offered a few minor suggestions and realized
two ideas I had to make the site more popular. My supervisors were
more then pleased and rewarded me for my selfless dedication to the
successes of their web community, their product. I soon lost all
enthusiasm in continuing to invent ideas that added to the appeal of
this sexually driven, pay site. My immeadiate supervisor seemed
pleased only when I did something which sold it’s product to a hungry,
lonely and despondant customer.
Outsiders called the site a “porn” site. Insiders did not dare to
call it such a name. We called it a pin-up site. Whatever that
meant, there were still naked women bending their bottoms, licking
lollipops, and draping their naked backs against cars, graffiti walls,
bathtubs, and kitchen tables. I’m selling sleezey photographs of 18,
19, 20, 25, 30 and even 36 year old women to sexually hungry
twenty-somethings, middle-aged, overweight lazy men, lesbians, child
molesters, and middle-class business men so bored with their own lives
they resort to secretly desiring the body of a 24 year old not exactly
sure why she decided to let her bare-body be permanently on display
for a shameful audience.
Most of these girls consort to the reasoning that they are
participating because they need money. The more frequent your profile
is visited the more money one makes. The sexy-factor became an idea
raked over by all the girls who committed themselves to allowing their
nudity to be displayed in a manner which was aimed at appealing to the
previously described audience.
A veil is thrown over this assumption. The creator proclaims the
females who comprise the site and are solely responsible for it’s
success are posing and getting undressed for themselves as an act of
an impulse to join a group of women who merely appreciate their
bodies. If this is the truth why can’t these young women do so
verbally and not have to take of their underware in order to prove
their commitment to such an idea.
Sell. Sell. Sell.
I was to find new girls around the globe that would strip for our
photographers—to them a stranger upon initial interaction, sign a
contract committing their images and likenesses to this oiled
machine—never to be removed, always available, even 20 years later,
even when the day comes and a girl wakes up and decides her decision
to turn her flesh into a product was a bad choice. It’s there.
Forever. It never can be erased. Even marriage or birth can breach
this agreement. Even death cannot breach this contract. I saw a girl
pour her heart into this community. I saw her decline in health. I
saw her and knew she was 20 years of age. I learned of her unexpected
over-dose on heroin. She was Italian. She made the news. She was
all over the community bulletins. Her nude photos were not removed
from the site. I believed this had to be the one exeception to the
rule. It was not. I wanted out. I wanted to no longer be a part of
this greedy mechanism.
TO BE CONTINUED. . .