hal tweets ·11:28 AM

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Lifecasting update, 1st Weekend and 1st White Supremacist :comments

Posted by Hal
Tags: production, Video sharing, Voyeurism

Planned events for the rest of today: 3pm – an exciting phone dialogue with my older brother who lives in “the city above Toronto.” 4pm – cooking with Hal. 9pm – scrabble with Hal’s wife, W.  

Okay all seven cameras are up and running! You can watch me live right now or anytime you feel like from the Peep crypt (aka my basement), as well as the kitchen and the living room. If you really want you can watch me go to the bathroom. (I know, how puerile and immature. But it got director Sally excited, didn’t it…) Quality use of the emoticon right there, I have to say.

So it all went live Friday night. It was supposed to go live Friday morning, but it took way longer than anyone expected to get everything set up.

The weekend was pretty weird. I couldn’t really spend that much time on the cameras, as obviously the whole family was about. I am able to turn off the cameras as needed, but every time I turned them off I felt strangely guilty. After all, I’m supposed to be lifecasting 24 hours a day. Of course that’s not entirely feasible. W. will only appear on camera wearing a hat pulled halfway down her head, and three year old E won’t be appearing on camera for more than few seconds. However I did manage to sleep on camera, take a few pisses, do some cooking Sunday morning, and talk to some people in the various chat rooms connected to the cameras.

So far I’ve connected with a white supremacist who called me a Zionist pig (where did that come from?), a 17 year old from Scotland (who called me boring), a Japanese gamer (who I made a mod on my channel so he could help give time-outs to those who say evil), and a fellow from Halifax who listened to me play guitar and requested a Tom Waits song. I’ve also heard from various people whom I actually know or am cyber-attached to, ranging from my neighbor (who watched my nap) to a few Facebook friends I’ve never met. Plus a few people I never would have imagined would come online to watch me.

Initial reactions: *Stress – director Sally and producer Jeanette want me on camera all the time. I feel the pressure to perform and entertain. It’s more stressful than I thought it would be. *Self consciousness – I am talking to myself a lot, or rather, I am talking to my invisible audience a lot. I catch myself talking to myself and it sounds kinda crazy. Which it is. *Showmanship — I’ve occasionally found myself liking the idea of having an audience and I’ve been playing to the camera a bit during those moments. *Obsession — I break off what I’m doing constantly to check and see if anyone wants to chat with me.

So the lifecast continues to develop. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Comments: -8-, Add yours…

It sounds funny to think people want to watch you pee, but just think of how many of them are masturbating at the same time.

I haven’t been watching you at all. The little I’ve seen of “lifecasting” tells me it’s less entertaining than watching paint dry.

Good luck with it going better.

By Nancymarie on 2009 07 20

I am on page 253 of your book, “The Peep Diaries”. Out of respect for your work - and I do respect your work - I wanted to offer you a humble, but perhaps not humbly written opinion.

Your book is very moralizing and very reactionary, so much so that in the end what I enjoy most is the catalogue of narratives of “Peep-gone-wrong”, without agreeing with your obvious disdain for Peep. I am not a huge fan of Peep, overshare or any of the “newly emerging socialities”, but I certainly do not see these things as a THREAT in the way you do.

Which brings me to this: I am shocked by the way in which you continually deploy the trope of “lost community”. I didn’t think it was possible to take such cultural nostalgia seriously anymore. I do believe that the hegemony of Progress has done great damage to the social fabric and daily life, but your use of the figure of community is pure rhetorical pathos. For example, it sounds ridiculous to a gay person (like me) to speak of speak of the old community as a victim rather than a terror. Call me a “special interest”, but the old community blows. I am much more interested in building a totally new community beyond the superficiality of Peep, yet also beyond the horrific gaze of pre-industrial community.

Thanks for your book Hal.

By Mike Honie on 2009 07 20

Okay, so I found the blog link at the very bottom of the page… finally. I wish people would put the most important part front and centre on a page.

For the July 20/09 blog: You connected with a white supermicist that called you a zionist pig, and a 17 year old who called you boring. And this surprises you? (I know kinda harsh, I’ll try to be nicer.)

People are rude and evil, you haven’t discovered this yet?

I wouldn’t do what your doing precisely because you would get people like that. And who needs it? I talk to people all the time who are living in their own world, hung up on their own dysfunctions, which you don’t know about until you run right smack into those dysfunctions. I’ve come across people who for example, believe Elvis Presley is still alive, and believe for sure, we never really made it to the moon. People who swear by some “fact” that they have no way of proving.

People are nuts in otherwords. When I share anything on the internet, I do it in such a way as to curb or be rid of the nuts before they strike, and it works most of the time. But you are right out there, in the complete open, so you can expect some nuts. I hope that your strong enough to realize they’re just nuts, forget about them.

By AFlows on 2009 07 20

That you feel a lot of pressure to perform doesn’t surprise me. I would imagine that being on camera all the time “re-invents” the way you see yourself. I would imagine it might be akin to being a model and constantly being aware that very soon people will be seeing you walk down that runway, and you better be skinny and beautiful.

I’m an introvert. I’ve never cared for any kind of social pressure, so I avoid it. But I would imagine you must be somewhat extroverted to have even attempted this experiment.

You said sometimes you play to the camera a bit. This makes sense. Do people get bored watching someone else on camera? Yes they do. If nothing in particular is going on, or nothing interesting is going on, they’ll get bored. It’s the same with watching a TV show.

I watch a soap opera on a regular basis. That TV show is constantly writing drama and suspense into it’s script, because when they don’t, people stop watching. We like to be entertained. We also like to watch people or shows that provide something to us… that have something to do with our interests.

I find what your doing interesting because I find human nature endlessly fascinating. That’s why I studied psychology and sociology in university. That’s what you provide me. I find what your doing and why just as interesting as what your actually doing here.

Considering that you mentioned in chat that you don’t like to watch people on webcams, it beehoves the question, why are you attracted to doing this project then?

I’ve done webcam chat with a few people, not very often. But I’ve never had a desire to do more of it. A webcam is just a camera that shows a picture, like any other camera, no reason to want to live on there, for money, or for a hobby, or even for an experiment.

I’ve always found it interesting why men want to watch women strip for them on webcam and do other sexual things, as I hear go on, on these pay sites. I’ve never watched a woman or man do that on one of those pay sites. What the man could be getting from it, as opposed to other forms of porn of sex, is beyond me.

But I’ve talked to a lot of people on the internet over the 17 years I’ve been on here (I started talking on the internet in 1992, gosh how times flies), and I’ve observed all kinds of activities all kinds of ways. Individuals have many differences in the way they think and behave.

By AFlows on 2009 07 20

Just dropped in on one of the basement cams this morning to see what sort of chat was going on. Some was was typing “die, die die!” over and over. You see this sort of thing all the time. People being over-the-top aggressive and almost cartoonish in their apparent anger.

I’ve always wondered, are these people just messing around, pretending to be crazy, or are they really mentally ill people? Are they kids just being jerks or are they adults with serious troubles? I suppose all of the above, but at any one moment you don’t know what you are dealing with. The only way I can deal with those sorts (in the rare times when I am actually in an open chart room) is to try to completely ignore them and try to have a conversation with someone more reasonable. Ignore them in so much as I don’t respond to to them. It’s impossible to completely ignore someone typing “die die die” over and over. More often then not I give up and log off.

By eebee on 2009 07 21

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your thoughts on the book, and, of course, for reading it. not surprising that i don’t agree with your point about my book being “reactionary” and a product of “cultural nostalgia.”

I think we’re facing a situation where there is tons of commentary and cheerleading about new media, web 2.0 and social networking. I think writing about how this is effecting or could effect people’s lives and society in general isn’t reactionary, it’s being realistic, something the wider media and even a lot of people who are heavy users of these kinds of networks don’t often want to be. I’m thinking about further down the road - how will peep change our lives and societies?

In terms of the question of cultural nostalgia, you make a very valid point about repressive cultures that don’t allow people to express their individuality. I’m not advocating we go back to those kinds of societies and I don’t think the book can be read that way. What I’m advocating is that the collapse of pre industrial community is something we continue to grapple with - what social entity will now give us our sense of self worth, direction and meaning? Without community, even repressive community, we have very little to bond individuals together into collectives. We have very little reason to care about each other. We turn each other into contacts, amusements and products. The phenomenon of Peep culture reflects this, even as it attempts to find new ways to express community. So it’s a conundrum, and a complicated one.

Thanks again for your thoughts, happy to keep the discussion going!


Your book is very moralizing and very reactionary, so much so that in the end what I enjoy most is the catalogue of narratives of “Peep-gone-wrong”, without agreeing with your obvious disdain for Peep. I am not a huge fan of Peep, overshare or any of the “newly emerging socialities”, but I certainly do not see these things as a THREAT in the way you do.

Which brings me to this: I am shocked by the way in which you continually deploy the trope of “lost community”. I didn’t think it was possible to take such cultural nostalgia seriously anymore. I do believe that the hegemony of Progress has done great damage to the social fabric and daily life, but your use of the figure of community is pure rhetorical pathos. For example, it sounds ridiculous to a gay person (like me) to speak of speak of the old community as a victim rather than a terror. Call me a “special interest”, but the old community blows. I am much more interested in building a totally new community beyond the superficiality of Peep, yet also beyond the horrific gaze of pre-industrial community.

Thanks for your book Hal.

By Hal Niedzviecki on 2009 07 21

Hal,

Thanks for taking the time to read my comments and respond to them.

On the one hand, there is the degradation of pre-industrial community and the ensuing cultural atmosphere of alienation, isolation, etc. Fair enough. On the other hand, there has been somewhat of an overblown and misdirected search for “self-worth, direction and meaning” that springs not so much from the dissolution of previously existing bonds as from a profound, yet historically contingent culturo-philosophical shift.

Essentially, the individualist/anti-conformist philosophy of icons like Jean-Jacques Rousseau was adopted during the 1960s by those who came to mistrust the “old community”, which promised such things as “self-worth, direction and meaning”, but provided only the insipid, materialistic life we see in depictions of the 1950s. Per se. Unfortunately, this rebellious generation’s quest to rejuvenate identity did not alleviate social alienation, but led directly to our washed-out commodified counter-culture. My point is that you may be advocating the structures of “community” due to the values of its counter-culture. More importantly, it is highly problematic to seek out what is immanent (matters of selfhood). In fact, other cultures around the world find it absurd that we are constantly trying to find out who we “really” are. The search for self-worth, direction and meaning can be just as much of a wild goose chase as your apparent claim that is human.

I suppose that in the end, my disagreement with the rhetorical buttressing of your otherwise interesting book lies in way you appear not to be disillusioned with this search. I do not intend to completely devalue pre-industrial community, which I suppose worked adequately enough despite its repression. I do not intend to devalue the liberation movements of the 1960s (to which I owe much) that failed in their search for new “self”. I’m just saying that, with a little reflection, the question “what … will now give us our sense of self-worth, direction and meaning?” un-asks itself. Is the “self” that one searches for not simply a reified self?

Thanks again.

By Mike Honie on 2009 07 21

mike, you make fascinating points. i’m particularly taken by your thoughts on our obsession with self actualization/conformist individuality vs. pre-industrial community’s tendency to provide meaning for the individual, but only within the context of often repressive group morality: ergo from peep:

“At the same time, we have no interest in returning to societies where people were put in stocks and branded because they didn’t believe in the right god in the right way or slept with someone they weren’t supposed to. We want the unstated rules that govern traditional community, but we don’t necessarily want those rules to apply to us.
This, in many ways, is the conundrum of modern society and emerging problem of Peep: we yearn for community without the willingness to be hampered by the structures of community.” from Chapter 2.

i approach our current never ending and probably hopeless search for meaning set within the confines of post-1960s capitalism freed from the moral confines of any semblance community “standards” with skepticism, but in the end you are right: i’m a bit of a cynical optimist. i still think we need some form of community/social structure that can provide us with the intrinsic recognition of our self hood that we so desperately crave.

By Hal Niedzviecki on 2009 07 24

 

  

The Bloggist

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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