Ill at ease

by TDJ

I have just recently watched an Anime feature film called “perfect blue“, which was a very entertaining psychological thriller that left a lasting impression on me. It was based around a young starlet who is being stalked by a man who runs a website about her, hence, he posts all her personal details, habits and movements each day. This lead me on to the thought of how absurd and unnerving it must be to have websites based on yourself, which are out of your control.

This hit home for me, in that I myself run a relatively large fan website about a sports person. I suddenly felt, after watching the film, very uncomfortable about the whole situation of knowing a lot of information about a particular person, yet without them knowing a shred of info about me. I have always been very conscious about what information is posted on the site, yet I can’t help but feel almost regretful about the whole situation.

I have been to many fansite’s where the detail about the particular person is so in depth I felt uneasy reading it. Which begs three questions: where did this webmaster get their info, why does anyone not personally associated with the sites subject need to know this, and how must this person feel about this information being published online. The first question can have many answers, second hand information, unscrupulous reporters trying to get more hits to their, or their associates website for example.

The second question I think is the most interesting. It brings up such topics as voyeurism, and even a need to feel close to someone more successful than them selves as a way for feeling better about your self, and perhaps being able to identify with a famous person. I have seen this in many newsgroups and Internet forums. One such example I remember is when the band “The Smashing Pumpkins” were breaking up, and people were posting about how they and Billy Corgan (the leader of the Pumpkins) were on a mission from God together and should meet at his house next week. This is a step up from running a fansite, to all out obsession with a person you’ve never met, which sadly the Internet seems to create.

The anime “perfect blue” is what brought the third question to mind originally. In the film the main character has to deal with paranoia and starts to have intense delusions as a result of seeing all these personal details about her self being posted daily on the website. I agree this is an extreme reaction, but to have personal details in a public arena such as the Internet would be a horrific ordeal. Weather or not the Webmaster is knowingly upsetting the person in question is neither here nor there; it just shouldn’t be posted in the first place. I have been asked to remove information from my website once and I have offered to remove anything else which is found to be inappropriate, which has been something which I am more than happy to do.

The Internet is a great place where people can discuss and share information on common interests, and have their opportunity to voice an opinion on any topic they wish and not be censored. But as the Internet is vastly an unregulated medium, there is almost a sense of anarchy in that people feel it’s their right to put forth unauthorised and inappropriate information into the public domain. Obviously it comes down to Webmaster, or newsgroup posters discretion as to what they feel is appropriate. Sadly I don’t think this will occur, due to the fact the almost all newsgroup posters and webmasters hide them selves with a high degree of anonymity, which is ironic almost to the extreme.

Essentially what I think it comes down to is the obscene growing obsession with celebrities, who more often than not are famous for achieving or contributing next to nothing for society (like actors and models for example). This ends up having a snowball effect in that it distorts reality in many ways. For example, the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on a boring film (Titanic) that is showered with praise and adulation, seems to overshadow real issues and problems (third world poverty, AIDS), which would benefit greatly if that kind of money was spent to find a solution for them. But as long as the USA is running the free world I doubt this will happen.

  • Ill at ease
  • by TDJ
  • Published on May 1st, 2002

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