onlyyyWed Jan 16,
Posted by Hal
We’ve just passed Belleville, Ontario and I’m listening to the woman one row up shuffle through papers and talk loudly on her cell about how she needs help figuring out how to reboot her suddenly inoperative Blackberry. I don’t know who she’s talking to since it’s only 8:00 am. Anyway, it’s a fitting start to this blog. Am I peeping her or is she happily exposing herself to anyone who cares enough to listen? I’m not really peeping, because what else can I do but listen? On the other hand, I am doing more than listen – I’m paying attention and writing down what she’s saying.
This blog is about the rise of peep culture. Definition: a culture of mass voyeurism in which we get more and more of our kicks from peeping in on the entertaining foibles of the real lives of others; at the same time, we become more and more amenable to others peeping in on our lives.
So a bit of a peep into my morning: The train left at 7 am. I woke up at 6:10, five minutes or so before my cab was supposed to show up. Actually I didn’t wake up, W woke me up. Who knows when I would have gotten up if left to my own devices. I was counting on the kid to wake us both up at 6 am exactly, like she does every morning. Today, the little bugger decided to sleep in. So much to W’s annoyance I ended up waking them both up as I fumbled for something to wear and stumbled into the bathroom to brush my teeth.
Anyway, I grabbed my carefully packed bag, kissed everyone goodbye and jumped into the waiting cab. Five minutes later I realized I had forgotten my laptop, so we turned around. I ran back into the house past W and kid, and bounded up the stairs. W, who is the kind of person who has to get everywhere at least an hour early, shook her head in horror as I waved yet another frantic goodbye.
At this time in the morning it takes less than 10 minute to get from my house to the train station so I got there with fifteen minutes to spare – time to hit the bank machine and grab a coffee before the train pulled out. Stepping onto the train a few minutes before it left the station reminded me how annoying flying is and how great train travel is. High speed rail please!
I haven’t told you why I’m going to Kingston yet: On Monday, while compiling peep related links for this blog I dropped in on a site I’d been meaning to visit but hadn’t gotten around to yet. It was the website of the Surveillance Project , founded by sociologist David Lyon and located at Queen’s University in Kingston. I noticed that they had a talk scheduled on Thursday. A criminology prof from University of Montreal was coming to talk about public perception of CCTV surveillance cameras. Perfect material for an article I’m writing for The Walrus magazine and for the peep culture book I’m researching. So I called them up and asked if I could come visit the Surveillance Project and talk to David Lyon and the University of Montreal Prof. They set me up with 3 interviews – Lyon, the Prof and a grad student doing research on Facebook. That plus the talk seemed to make it more than worthwhile to spend a day in Kingston. I’ll be arriving in about ten minutes, so we’ll soon see if I’m right. (By the way, 2 more audible cell phone conversations took place on the train while I wrote this: One woman trying to coordinate a meeting and one woman just chatting about her life.)
Hey, I’m Hal Niedzviecki. I’m a writer/thinker who lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with my wife and daughter. Up till now I’ve always considered myself a private person. But at the same time I’m fascinated by people who effortlessly open themselves up to the whole world. So I’ve… more...
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