Thursday, March 20, 2008


In Virilio’s article he claims that the Internet and webcams make visible the blind spots of traditional television, but is this necessarily true? Chances are, those people that have webcams are not the type of people that have anything particularly mind-blowing to hide. The willful choice to put oneself on a webcam implies that one is not particularly secretive to begin with. Does anyone really think that webcams will truly reveal anything particularly shocking or enlightening about people? There are probably a select few individuals who are committed at attempting to show the reality of their lives on camera, but, even in this case, there is a certain awareness of the camera being there causing hesitance in certain actions. This group also obviously represents a very small minority of people (i.e. people who can afford a webcam and computer, people who actually have the desire to show their lives to the world, people who are committed to doing this truthfully). The idea that someone on a webcam could be any sort of person is completely false. Those people who have and use webcams are a very particular group. People with big important secrets with the power to shake the very foundations of society aren’t going to be parading about on a webcam. A webcam can only truly represent reality when the person being filmed is unaware that they are under surveillance.

            Another problem with the idea that webcams can eliminate all blind spots of traditional television is the plethora of fake and staged webcam users. As Jenni from Jennicam mentioned in the interview that Gem posted, a number of webcam users are hired strippers, who create a false voyeuristic environment on their cameras. In fact, a majority of webcams that show particularly scandalous or unusual acts are probably fake. If anything, the webcam confuses reality. Traditional television programming does not claim to be real, webcams do, but in most cases what is seen on a webcam is no more real than what can be seen on television everyday. Whether or not some webcams do depict reality becomes irrelevant. It is almost impossible to tell what is real and what is merely a show on any particular webcam on the Internet. Every webcam must be viewed with some skepticism. In fact, before even considering this idea, one of my first thoughts when viewing the one-year performance video was, “is this real?” The ability of the Internet and technology to create realistic fantasies forces users to become skeptics of almost everything they see on the Internet. For example, the other day I saw a video in which an American soldier in Iraq throws a puppy off of a cliff. Many of the comments on the video discussed whether or not it was real (turns out it is and it is currently being investigated). Some people pointed out all of the reasons why it was fake, while others pointed out why these people were wrong and why it was most likely real. People were strongly convinced of both sides. The truth is, almost nothing on the internet can be taken at face value anymore, but, truthfully, could anything be taken this way to begin with?

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