Ideas and Issues: Online Privacy

 This piece was originally a part of an ideas and issues unit for my English Writing course, written in blog post format. 

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Over recent years, with the advent of social media, privacy online has become a major concern. It’s something we try to protect in our everyday lives, yet over the past few years it has begun to diminish. Things we used to keep behind closed doors we now put out for public display. Much of this can be attributed to the rise of the social websites and more technology driven culture. Every day, we share our lives across the endless wire that is the internet, putting up our thoughts, feelings, pictures, videos, and anything else under the sun.

 

What sharing your information looked like in the 1990's.

 

But is sharing everything such a wise idea? Whilst this amazing revolution in communication has brought many advantages, there are also downsides becoming more prominent. These include crimes such as identity theft and defamation becoming more commonplace and easier to commit. Even when taking precautions against such things, it’s sometimes not enough to stop personal information being collected and used. What is surprising is that it isn’t just hackers and thieves collecting your information, but websites and corporations we put out trust in every day. Websites often use cookies to help keep track of what you do, and gather the data so they can target advertising and services toward you. This in most cases conforms to different countries’ privacy protection laws, but not always. In an example, it was recently found that the popular social networking site ‘Facebook’ stored a cookie on your computer which tracked your movements around the web even after you had logged out, which is against many countries’ laws on privacy.

 

Like Sauron and the One Ring, their thirst for private information knows no law...

 

Sometimes however, giving away your information via social networking and web browsing isn’t the only way to lose your privacy. Anonymous cultures around the internet abound. Gone is the worry of someone you know finding out about what you post and look at, but it can also bring out the worst in people. Due to being anonymous, some people feel they can get away with anything whilst online, and it shows. Keeping a tight control on information is also more important, due to not knowing the intentions of someone else who’s anonymous. Anonymous cultures have become more a stomping ground for grassroots activism in recent years, but stigmas and precautions still abound when posting anonymously, and personal information can soon be used against someone if obtained. Also in most cases, despite being anonymous, you can still be traced if you don’t take precautions.

 

The magic of snatching passwords from the data streams...

 

The debate between those who wish to remove the barrier of online privacy, and those who wish it would remain is a long and difficult one. Both sides have arguments worth listening to, but unless a balance can be struck, then the future of online privacy is a strange one, and perhaps one that need to be looked at more closely.

A Faceless Prince: More Slender Man

Seeing as my first Slender Man article did so well stats wise, I figured I’d do another one. The ‘Slenderverse’ is a rapidly growing thing, and even though I’ve been a part of it for less than a year, it has changed so much. Instead of laying out a guide to everything Slender Man, instead I’ve decided to look at a few of the other notable blogs and vlogs out there.

MLAndersenO 

The vlog series MLAndersenO follows Michael Anderson, who has recently returned home for a prolonged stay at a mental health clinic. Since his return however, nothing seems quite right. Something seems terribly wrong. His brother Shaun waves it off as nothing more than Michael forgetting to take his medication. That is, until a tall, slender man begins stalking him as well…

MLAndersenO has to be one of the best acted of the vlog series. From the way Michael is portrayed as a character trying to hold on, to his other side Patrick, who fills the screen with his grandiose and villainous nature. The plot is fairly interesting as well, and whilst it does use some things outside of the vlog to convey the story, these are not needed to understand and enjoy the plot.

CaughtNotSleeping

Meet Caught. He’s a regular, no bullshit sort of guy. When he can’t sleep, he turns to Youtube in a jest of an attempt to find answers. As he posts more videos, he gains the attention of a mysterious person by the name of Roivas Sevil (backwards as Savior Lives), and viewers begin to warn him of the Slender Man. Caught laughs all of this off, believing that someone is just fucking about with him. That is until he sees the creature himself…

CaughtNotSleeping is a rather interesting series, breaking normal conventions by having a character that is aware of the Slender Man from the beginning, and believing it to be just an internet thing and a prank being pulled on him. The audience participation in the series is also very good, making those watching along become a part of the story in small ways. It is also quite expansive with its side channels, RoivasSevil and The Help3r, giving a greater sense of immersion.

Blogs

There are quite a few Slender Man blogs out there, so I’ll just do a bucket list of what I believe are a few best ones.

The first is A Really Bad Joke, which follows Maduin (also known as the Jester). Maduin takes a different route to others, and instead of trying to fight Slender Man, plays pranks on him. Whilst the premise may seem quite light-hearted, at its core it is quite macabre and dark. The use of audio logs makes this more evident, with a weary sounding Maduin struggling to keep going.

Another is Observe and Terminate, which follows the Slender Man devision of the Paranormal Termination Consortium (PTC for short). Throughout the course of the blog, it changes hands and various conflicts in and outside of the organisation come to light. Less of a horror blog, and more like an action movie, Observe and Terminate is an interesting take on the mythos. Be warned though that at 180 posts, it is quite a long read.

One of the older blogs deserving a mention is A hint of Serendipity. It follows Zerombr (or simply Zero), who finds himself drawn into the myth of the Slender Man, and begins to try and help others in their fight against it. This doesn’t last long however before Zero himself becomes a target, and has to meet his fate. Zero is an interesting character, and formed an important point in the blog mythos of Slender Man with the Winter Solstice event. The character later returned in Last Refuge of a Dangerous Man, in which his story was concluded.

Other honourable mentions go to The Tutorial, Smiting the Gods and What You Are in the Dark. There are plenty of other blogs out there, with quite a few being fairly good, and even brilliant in some cases. My own contributions to the mythos, The Readers Resort and The Things You Shall See, are not quite as good as the ones I’ve mentioned. There are bits in them I’m quite fond of, but I feel they could’ve been so much better.

Hopefully that’s enough Slender Man to keep people satisfied for quite a long time.