Friday, December 22, 2006

When the Laughter Dies: Blogging the loss of privacy in the age of the internet mob.

I don't care if the Terrorists win.

I don't have anything to lose anyway.

Like most other bloggers I am an unemployed sexual deviant who lives in his mother's basement. The closest I get to screwing a girl is fist fucking Rosie Palm after decorating her in my cousin's dirtiest Barbie doll outfits.

A number of those deviant basement bottom dwellers survive and prosper because they have developed a relationship with their readers. They call it a community in the blogger world. Even this tiny blog has a culture and small readership community.

And I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I've always encouraged participation here and will continue to do so in the future.

And I have no problem with how most other blogging communities handle themselves either. I consider myself an admirer of Podcasts such as KATG and Ze Frank. They have an economic model they can pursue because of fan loyalty and community support.

I am just not too sure if bloggers understand their power yet. None of them had time to learn to deal with the ferocity of allegiance they can command, like say a Howard Stern has.

Recently on The Show with Ze Frank he suggested that members of his community adopt a myspace friend. All of his fans would bombard the "deserving" but nearly friendless victim. A prank. Funny and harmless really. I am sure the "victim" would be flattered by all the attention and revel in the amusement of being pranked by so many people at once.

But Ze does admonish his followers to beware of "looking like spam, whatever that is." So even a relatively harmless joke has the danger of misperception. And apparently some of Ze Frank's followers are in danger of changing into a tin can of salted meat.

I am astutely aware of how this weblog can appear to some people. I was recently tipped to an "inappropriate" posting I made on this blog which many people in a particular community felt went too far.

Maybe it did. I tend to cross the line to find out where I can next draw it.

I decided to review the post and I removed it. While I corrected the problem and that could have been the end of it, I think not. Why not take this oppurtunity to lecture others? It could be instructive if some of the "A" list bloggers and podcasters out there took the time to consider the direction and intent of their communities. They need to understand the responsibility that comes with reaching large audiences in the age of the internet.

Old school and mainstream media were founded on the ideal of the public good. They served the public interest and their existence was predicated on the belief that they actually served something more than the private interests that financed the publication.

Today's mass media serve only private tastes. It is formed in the uncensored unconscious mind. Private thoughts are no longer constrained within the minds or journals of their creators. Instead they are vomited on the anonymous Internet. Releasing the private unconscious over the the false anonymity of the internet only reinforces our unconscious impulses. We feel safe to create. But that privacy is an illusion.

My illusion of privacy was broken a long time ago. I have a past that makes me sensitive to those efforts. It should have made me more careful about what I post, and made me sensitive to the potential ways I might break the privacy of others.

All I can say is that it has not been enough. I've been fired for posting on this blog. I guess it takes a long time for me to learn lessons. Probably has something to do with my frontal lobes malfunctioning. I am working on it. May I suggest humbly that other communities do so as well?

One might consider a community broken after communities stop being gathering places for the like-minded and descend into a state of mobbery. For instance, after an anonymous poster recently suggested his community had begun to secretly orchestrate against me. Efforts were "put into tracking you down was no doubt to reassure her that we knew who you were and where you were. " This little fact finding mission KATG members started could have been just an attempt to put their minds at ease. It just as easily could have spiraled into something dangerous for yours truly.

Privacy may be gone. Somebody famous said that. So it must be true. And there is no going back. But there are ways to handle situations before they spiral out of control.

First I would suggest that communication is important. Many times people are unaware of their wrong doing. Pointing out a problem quickly and directly is a requirement for citizenship in the blogging communities.

Often the problem ends there. Encouraging a bloggers courtesy will typically resolve any problems that a lawsuit doesn't cover. Removing the "citizenship" of the offender can act as a powerful punishment to the guilty.

If common sense can guide us in our efforts to deal with individual offenders, what guides the community at large? The first step is to examine critically a communities policing. At a certain point the mob mentality can reach critical mass.

How to know if your community has reached the Crisis of Mob Mentality:
  • The creator of leader of the blogging community losses control of the direction or intention of the blogging citizens.

  • Threats of violence

  • Cyberstalking i.e. abusing or flaming individuals, harassment at work or in the non-digital world.

  • Releasing of private information onto the internet.

Act before it takes place to encourage responsible behavior by setting a good example yourself. And take responsibility. It's the creator's job to make sure the community is policing itself through courtesy, not torches.


Evil Spock said...

Romius, I thought you were a card-carrying member of The Few!

Evil Spock plans on dominating the internet through any means necessary. My fanbase is rabid, so you're either with us or against us.

Romius T. said...

I could never be against the collective, or an army as powerful as the community of Evil Spock.

Jezebelsriot said...

Some days it's good to live in total obscurity. I would like the story of how you got fired for your blog. I'm waiting for that at my job, even though I'm going to deny that it's me. "Sure this chick lives in St. Louis, has a husband named Mike, works at a bank and looks remarkably like me... but it's just not me!!!"

Romius T. said...

If you click on the self help center tab that was my blog that got me fired. I will edit this post to indicate the paticular post if I can find one where I got fired.