The internet can be a scary place. Scratch that. The internet is a scary place. I have a zillion different passwords, all of them odd combinations of letters and numbers and symbols that none but the most skilled hacker should be able to crack. Still, I worry someone will somehow gain access to all my personal information. What if someone breaks into my account with Clearly Contacts and publishes the extent of my blindness for the whole world to know? What if my bank account is compromised and, after draining my meager resources, the technological burglar makes public the amount of money I spend each month on dog treats and lip gloss? Shudder.
I’m very careful about what I do online, but it seems there are many people, far more powerful and popular than me, who don’t seem to understand that the internet is full of creeps, weirdoes, and opportunists. I feel like every time I log in, some starlet has been literally exposed online because she snapped photos of herself in her underpants or less and the photos were “leaked.”
Newsflash: taps sometimes leak, and so do tires. On very bad days, so do feminine hygiene products and infants’ diapers. Naked photographs don’t “leak.” “Leak” is internet code for “people are stoo-pid.”
Things that exist on the internet go far beyond the level of permanent Sharpie marker. Whatever a person publishes, whether it’s a rant about an ex-parter or former employer, or a picture of that individual in a compromised position, has officially been made indelible in a way that people thirty years ago could never have imagined. It’s like a tattoo on the universe that no amount of laser zapping can eradicate.
I can see the appeal, though, of—oops—providing the vultures with a photo that leaves little or nothing to the imagination. A regular pattern has been established in online media whereby a person (almost always female) allows a photograph or (far worse) a video of herself to enter the fray of the internet, and very soon after, her career takes off. It seems we have become so obsessed with other folks’ bits that we grant people all kinds of fame and fortune to those stoo-pid enough to make the private stuff public. It makes sense that young women think the best way to become a household name is to bare all their, um, secrets, because we continue to reward such poor behavior. Sometimes, it seems a woman can only be a success if she’s willing to engage in public nudity.
Considering that I’m thirty now, and feeling rather old, it seems my days of opportunity are dwindling. When I was a kid, I imagined myself famous for something by this point of my life. Perhaps I should just surrender to the trend of appearing topless on the internet, pretending I had nothing to do with it, and waiting for Oprah to call me for an interview. I realize the woman is semi-retired, but if ever there was something to create a television special event, maybe me “leaking” a photo could do it.
To heck with it. Here comes the leak. If anyone asks, remember that I knew nothing about this, and my publicist is outraged at this invasion of my privacy.
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