LOS ANGELES, CA: Elisa Jordana’s Spreecast program Kermit and Friends has an innocent sounding title, but long time viewers and guests know that it is a hotseat as uncomfortable as any in radio or television. While many guests thrive on the attention and the semblance of a kind of “fame” that makes micro-celebrities out of anyone with a web cam, others find the experience very distressing. The chat room is harsh and unforgiving when it catches a whiff of phoniness; other guests (sometimes inebriated or stoned, sometimes not) can be exceedingly hostile and irrational; Jordana’s own line of questioning can take abrupt and sometimes very uncomfortable turns. Some people have come close to having mental breakdowns from the experience.
One startling realization that people often make is that on the internet in general, and in the webcam community specifically, nothing is ever secret. In exchange for the modicum of fame, or at least notoriety, that the webcammer gains from putting themselves on public display daily, there is a price to pay: the webcammer is also surrendering their privacy. Photoshop, screen capture programs, and copy-and-paste means that nothing ever dies and that everything, and everyone, is a meme in waiting.
Those who understand all this are the ones who seem to derive the most pleasure out of webcamming. They continue to do it, year in and year out, because they have developed mechanisms for dealing with the dangers of the internet.
So, as something of a community service, DNN is providing a list of tips that might make novice webcammers feel a little more secure in their interactions, and ought to frighten away some who shouldn’t be messing with this stuff in the first place.
- DNN is Watching. You bet we are, we love this stuff. However, DNN isn’t the only one. Your on-line enemies and on-line friends will be watching, complete strangers will be watching, obsessive-types will be watching. So follow the fundamental rule: don’t do anything that will get you in trouble with your friends, your boss, your husband or wife, your kids, your neighbors, or psychopaths.
- Don’t put your privacy on the front lawn with a sign that says “Free! Take one!” Guard your privacy. You don’t need your real name to become famous this way; you can get just as many kicks from a famous nickname. Use only that nickname for webcamming, and use different ones for your other business online. People will constantly Google you; make sure all they find is your nickname’s web cam stuff.
- Once you put it on the internet, it stays on the internet. Any Blab can be downloaded. Seederman recommends vGet Extension for those who use Chrome and wish to download Blabs, and Periscope_2.1 for those who use Windows and wish to download a Periscope. In the case that a Blab is not being recorded by the participants, it can be recorded live with any number of screen capture programs. (Seederman likes Debut Video Capture, and adds that the free version does all he needs it to do.) We provide these links because those who want to preserve your web cam sessions forever already know about them.
- Don’t play to the trolls. If you try to answer your trolls instead of just doing your thing, you will quickly find the road to madness, and you’ll look like a fool the whole way. Haters gonna hate, let them hate you. However, keep in mind that they might not be trolling you at all, and that you might indeed be making a fool of yourself.
- Don’t talk too long. Don’t forget, you are sharing the stage with three other people. Let them all get a word in edgewise. If you go on too long, you’ll look like a tool and you run the risk of saying things you’ll regret. Similarly, always remember a simple adage: there are no winners in an internet argument. However, the one who knows when to shut up first usually looks smarter.
- Twitter is your friend, usually. With Twitter, you can get the word out to your Blab, Periscope, and Spreecast friends immediately. You can also monitor the activities of your enemies, and discover little things that turn friends into enemies and enemies into friends. You can also use it to gauge the buzz you have generated, or to see if people think you’re cool or a nutjob.
- Real life cannot be neglected. Eat right, get your exercise, look for that job, interact with analog humans, play with a pet, learn a foreign language, clean your room and do the laundry. If you do so, there will be less to make fun of you about, and your own depression might lift. Never forget that there is nothing at the core of the web cam world but a black abyss. Real life is where it’s at.
- Don’t get naked! Even a one-to-one Skype or Yahoo Messenger webcam session is easily recordable. Pics are emailed and dm’d constantly. If you are an exhibitionist who wants the whole world to see, then fine. But if seeing yourself on display in Google images would upset you or your loved ones or coworkers, set a date in real life instead.
- Remember, the internet is “in public” Even if you never go on cam and only live the voyeuristic life of a lowly chatter, keep the other eight suggestions in mind. People will think they know you too, and will Google you and try to out you. Have sturdy privacy measures in place. For those who wish to expose a web cammer, understand their vulnerabilities and the tools you have available. And if you are a web cammer who just likes web camming; have fun!
DNN wants a fully informed public to be able to enjoy this new technology and make it something that one can use for pleasure, politics, performance, commerce, or other useful applications. We also want potential Kermit guests or first time Blabbers or Periscopers to understand what they might be getting into. And above all, we want to encourage anyone with a news tip to send any Periscope or Blab captures to DNN!