I turn my laptop away from my husband, mute the volume, and let the horror make my head go dizzy and my stomach turn upside-down. Sometimes he catches me.
Last night he said, “What is wrong with your face? Why do you look like that?”
Journalist Brianna Snyder appeared on the podcast, speaking very frankly about how she used to be compelled to watch violent, extreme content on the internet after a crisis of her own mortality.
Personally I was very moved reading her article, as it’s a rare thing to have someone speak to honestly about viewing such material, and the psychological toll it can have on people who have seen it. It’s well worth a read, but be warned it does deal with very dark subject matter.
Hey guys, all episodes of series 17 are available to download both from BBC Sounds and on iTunes. So if you’re the binging type when it comes to audio check it out. Especially check out our 100th episode special, the Analogue Human – we loved cutting that on tape.
A survey of Italian mothers who engage in ‘sharenting’ suggests they are motivated by both a desire for external validation, as well as more communitarian goals such as sharing moments with distant relatives and seeking support. But while many mothers see it as their right to engage in sharenting, what implications does this have for children’s rights and privacy?
Lunchtime listen for you guys, Dr Anna Derrig was on our show this week, but she goes in depth into the ethics of life writing in this episode of Four Thought. Well worth a listen if you’re going to write your life story.
A woman secretly photographed on a flight to Dallas has released a statement about how she has been shamed and harassed since a fictional romance about her went viral on social media.
Parts of a conversation she had with a fellow passenger on 3 July was overheard by actress and comedian Rosey Blair and her boyfriend, who documented their interpretation of it as an unfolding romance which became known online as #PlaneBae.
But the woman says she has been hounded and doxxed – internet terminology for revealing someone’s personal information without their consent.
I grew up on (500) Days of Summer, Love Actually, and all those romantic comedies that beat us over the head with the “love is persistent” trope. Usually it’s a guy who decides he’s going to go all out to win the girl of his dreams, even if she doesn’t seem at all interested or is already in a relationship. The main thing is that he never gives up.
I loved these movies and their handwritten letters, expensive chocolates, and gifts—a romcom hero could have called anything a grand gesture and I would have lapped it up. My hopelessly romantic adolescent brain thought that I would find The One when they dedicated their life to getting me like Noah in The Notebook and the 365 letters he sent his ex.
So that’s what I ended up with—and it’s exactly what I didn’t want.
I would spend most of my day looking for articles on relationship issues, taking online quizzes, and ruminating on what I read online,” says Victoria, 23, from Spain. “It was a very tiring process. The relief would only last for a short while – and then the doubts would creep back in.”
Victoria has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). When she was younger, this meant that she was plagued with religious obsessions, and felt compelled to beg for forgiveness a specific number of times every time she did something ‘wrong.’ But over the years, her fixations have shifted toward love and sexual attraction.
Now, Victoria constantly questions whether she is in the right relationship, and regularly doubts her sexual orientation. She spends hours online looking for information to determine whether she is heterosexual and if she really loves her boyfriend. “Google is the worst enemy for people with OCD,” she says, with exasperation. “It’s the perfect vessel for reassurance-seeking compulsions. Googling allowed me to endlessly feed my obsession without anyone telling me to ‘shut up about it already’.”
Nosing in on what people are up to isn’t new. The only thing that has changed is that our subjects used to be acquaintances from school, clubs, and down the road. Then, face-to-face conversation was within the realm of possibility even if fear got in the way. But keeping up-to-date with people you’ve never met from continents you’ve never visited isn’t weird to us. I’ve repeatedly found myself so entwined in the lives of unremarkable strangers that I feel the need to see how they’re doing (because actually following their account would be going ‘too far’).
Weird? Maybe a little, but the old saying that it’s not what you know but whom you know has taken on new meaning. Because lurking has become a part of our daily life, it’s not unacceptable to use it to benefit you. Creeping is currency.
As a child of the digital age and a person with pure obsessional obsessive-compulsive disorder (“Pure O” OCD), I have observed abundant overlap between these two identities. Social media feeds are dictated by algorithms. Take Instagram, for example: a search tab so generously populates your feed with images and videos that might be of interest to you based on your behavior online. This is exactly how intrusive thoughts work. I have a thought that is ego dystonic, scares me and sets me off down the rabbit hole of mental compulsions in a futile attempt to disprove that thought. By seeking to avoid said intrusive thoughts, you guessed it, we affirm them. “What we resist, persists,” a counselor once told me. And what would have been diluted by simple acceptance is amplified by the friction our brains set into motion.
The same thing happens on Facebook and Instagram. I compare my relationship to the ever-repetitive rhetoric of #CoupleGoals, tapping and reading, tapping and linking to yet another related piece of content. My Search tab is then inundated with images of perfectly tanned, toned couples. The same goes for body image, professional success, activism, pie making abilities — you name it. Their (insert insecurity) must be more valid than mine, as they receive more engagement. It seems as if they are more worthy. I too portray aspirational parts of my life and work, but I am troubled by the unrealistic expectation perpetuated. When I fixate on perfection, then my need for it continues. The sense of urgency remains because I keep sounding the alarm and affirming that it is important. Conundrums scream, “pay attention to me,” and although it negatively impacts my life, I pay attention.
Such was the prescription from indie musicians Amanda Palmer and Damon Krukowski ’85 during an animated discussion about digital creativity Tuesday night at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts.
Krukowski, who came to the Consumer Research Center/store to kick off the tour for his new book, “The New Analog: Listening and Reconnecting in a Digital World,” used “noise” to describe the ambient sounds such as air conditioning or breathing that found their way onto analog audio recordings, but he was also speaking of life in the pre-digital world before social media giants’ content streams.
Krukowski, who was the founder and drummer for Galaxie 500 in the late ’80s, worked on the idea of analog versus digital as a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society in 2015-16. By eliminating noise, he argued, digital technology has isolated authentic sound, though he hoped the debate would not be seen as old versus new, or good versus bad.
But Palmer, a rock ’n’ roll performer who has cultivated an intimate relationship with fans on and off social media, wasted no time lamenting the loss. Instead, she commiserated with Krukowski over a shared displeasure with Facebook. She quoted from Krukowski’s book: “Social media have no content to offer other than what their users provide. Yet that information, too, is limited to isolated signal as defined by the platform — a neat trick.” Then she made her own supporting argument.
“I also hate Facebook, and I hate Facebook more and more every day,” she said, bemoaning the algorithms it uses to determine what is signal and what is noise for its 2 billion users.
“Noise is necessary. If we’re going to stay human, visual, audio, emotional noise, it’s what makes life. If you don’t have it, you don’t really even have the conditions for living. If things are signal only, that literally means there is no room for coincidence, synchronicity, kismet, randomness — the things that make life feel realistic,” she said.