The Peep Diaries: An eye opening look into how much we share online
December 27, 2011 5 Comments
Have you ever wondered why you bother to share things online? People complain about privacy issues all the time, yet willingly post every facet of their lives on sites that are designed to have that content shared.
The Peep Diaries by Hal Niedzviecki was sitting on my bookshelf for quite a while after I’d won it in a contest run by the CBC show The Passionate Eye. I originally watched the documentary Peep Culture, which is a great example of looking into why we do what we do online. The book, while covering many of the examples in the documentary, delves deeper into the subject.
“Peep culture is reality TV, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, MySpace and Facebook. It’s blogs, chat rooms, amateur porn sites, virally spread digital movies of a fat kid pretending to be to be a Jedi Knight, cell phone photos – posted online – of your drunk friend making out with her ex-boyfriend, and citizen surveillance. Peep is the backbone as Web 2.0 and the engine of corporate and government data mining. It’s like the famous line about pornography: you know it when you see it. And you do see it. Al the time, every day, everywhere.”
As you can tell by the MySpace reference, the book is a tad dated. It can be distracting in some cases where he discusses numbers or tools like MySpace which are no longer popular. Regardless of the tools, the examples he uses still make sense.
Throughout the book Niedzviecki looks at many different ways in which “peep” is invading our lives. From online voyeurs creating a separate identity, to reality TV and how surveillance has evolved from taboo to downtown streets to fodder for YouTube viewers.
He paints an interesting picture to show that through these different outlets we’re looking to build that sense of community that was lost in the age of “me”. When communities were closer knit, privacy didn’t exist nearly as much as it does today, if at all. We always had someone to share with, or protect us from bad seeds, but now that’s all changed.
He brings up a great point in that we’re putting out all this content in the context of connecting with like-minded individuals, but in reality the info we post is used by larger companies to make money. Why must we share everything online? What did you do before blogs, Facebook and Twitter started invading your life? Could you stop today if you had to?
The more I read, the more I thought about why I like to participate in online communities. While I do keep a lot offline, I’m open about who I am and the issues I believe in. I like to share that with others online who are willing to have a conversation about any of those topics. I’m not about having a double identity or someone that posts daily videos of themselves; it’s just simply connecting with others and learning from them, or sharing my own knowledge/experiences.
The Peep Diaries does a great job of starting the conversation about privacy and how much we’re willing to give up for a sense of community. It would seem that society is moving toward that Big Brother scenario, except we’re all watching each other, and more and more people are willing to go along with the ride without questioning it. I give it a 4/5.