December 16, 2007

Generation YouTube

Have you ever looked up old friends on the Internet and found nude photos of them? Now I have. Every now and then I do an Internet search for friends and acquaintances who I haven't contacted in a while, to see if I can find what they have been up to publicly or professionally. This time, I looked for a friend who I have not spoken to in a couple of years. She's in her mid-twenties, and I don't really know her that well (we may be considered more as acquaintances), both of which are relevant here.

This friend has an unusual first and last name, so when I typed her name in the search box, very few hits came up. The third and fourth hits were pretty innocuous-sounding social networking sites, but not the big ones with which everyone is familiar. So I clicked on the first one, and it is a social networking site. Her profile appeared, with a photo of herself nude. She had a bunch of other nude photos posted as well, and I'm not talking R-rated silhouetted glamour shots. The second site was more raunchy. It also followed the social networking model, but it appeared to be for people who want to hook up either personally or for professional "gigs." Some of her photos there were even more revealing, full frontal shots. I guess I found out what my friend has been up to. I was pretty surprised that she had put herself out there so publicly for her family, friends, prospective employers and the world to stumble across simply by searching for her by name.

My friend may be an older member of what I call Generation YouTube, those people, mostly in their late teens and early twenties, who are combining youthful stupidity, which has been around forever, with cheap, small video cameras (including phone cameras), which never existed before, to chronicle their lives and post the highlights on the Internet. Naturally, they want to post the most interesting parts of their lives. Naturally, that includes bad behavior, which often involves alcohol and the shedding of clothes. So now there are sites and groups such as the "30 Reasons Girls Should Call it a Night" group on Facebook, which features photos of girls who are so drunk, so throwing up, so making fools of themselves, that everyone agrees they are past the point where they Should Have Called it a Night.

I was trying to think through what this all means. In ten years, will everyone under thirty-five have nude photos and sex tapes of themselves on the Internet? As everyone posts their innermost thoughts and feelings on their MySpace and Facebook pages, will the idea of a written diary kept under lock and key to keep Mom, Dad and Little Brother away become a quaint thing of the past? By the time "Girls Gone Wild" number 157 is released, will every young woman have been filmed in a compromising position?
Will no one then care? Will we become like the French, nonchalant about our bodies and matters of sex? While now it might seem horrifying that one night of filmed drunken, semi-nude revelry can be forever available for employers and job interviewers, what happens in ten years when the next generation of job interviewers themselves have incriminating photos and videos on the Internet? If everyone does it, will the photos and videos no longer be incriminating? Will Miss America finally get to keep her crown?

When I discussed this with a friend the other night, she told me that maybe Generation YouTube won't even care about their Constitutional privacy and liberty rights that many of us are trying so hard to protect against a brutal assault by the Bush Administration. She may be correct. I can hear the thought process: So the government is listening to my phone calls? What-everr. I record all my calls and post them on YouTube anyway.

Now that thought is even more disturbing than all of us turning into the French.


At 7:25 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

I seriously doubt I know anyone who appears on the Internet sans clothes. I do find it sad that young people today often resort to binge drinking and have whole evenings when they can't remember whom they were with or what happened. That's actually pretty scary. The fact that they think it's film-worthy behavior is even more curious.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

But stupid behavior has existed forever. I'm not aware of any more drinking taking place now than at other times during the past 40 years or so, and drug use may even be less than in other decades. What's different is the Internet and the cameras, and the resulting apparent lack of self-consciousness and desire for personal privacy.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Isadelmar said...

What makes you think that French are "nonchalant about our bodies and matters of sex"??
Just curious...

At 12:48 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Isadelmar: My opinion about the French is not based on a scientific study. This is, after all, a blog. It is, however, based on my own observations (for example, the beaches on the French Riviera, where topless women of all ages, including the elderly, are quite nonchalant about showing parts of their bodies that prudish American do not). French films also further this reputation. I have also read articles explaining that, in France, the people are adamant about maintaining privacy from government intrusion on their Internet use, primarily for sexual communications and pornography, and that, before the rise of the Internet, there was an extremely popular telephone service called Minitel that served this purpose. The idea that the French have a more relaxed attitude about their bodies and sex did not originate with me. The French are famous for their nude postcards and their French kissing. French married men having mistresses is supposedly an accepted practice, and President Mitterand's mistress reportedly showed up at his funeral. And perhaps some of these French attitudes and practices, if accurate, are much healthier (other than adultery). As Anthony Gly is quoted as saying: "The French are perhaps the only nation to identify sex with l'amour, to see it as an act of love." You are of course free to disagree, and I appreciate your comments nevertheless.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Isadelmar said...

Actually what you say is all the most interesting since, as you quote, this is your opinion and not a “scientific study”.
(I am French and I live in California.)
Now, I don’t agree with your comparison between the Generation YouTube and the French attitudes. But I won’t neither contradict the examples you gave me.
True, women are often topless on the beaches…and it is not always pleasing to the eye…but I believe that they are truly looking for the perfect tan.
Yes, we had a “Minitel Rose” but Minitel was mainly used as a phone book. It was a great tool. Now, you could call expensive numbers and have a naughty conversation (written). Why not?
Ok, you will see more flesh in a French movie than in an American one. (But do you ever watch French movies?) More nudity but less violence and slang.
French kiss? What’s the American kiss then?
All French married men don’t have mistress (well I hope so!) but yes, our Presidents (and not only Mitterrand…) enjoyed their private life. With Mitterrand, what was the most shocking was that he raised his daughter with the tax money. Everyone knows that the first Lady is needed for the “gallery”…well this was true before the Sarkosy era! I don’t know if the latest news came to your ears (or your eyes): he is dating a very famous former model (n°2, his ex-wife was also a former model…)
I thank you for the opportunity of this exchange. Congratulations for your blog. I will read your posts with pleasure.

At 9:33 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Thanks for your views. I love French movies! Some of my favorites are Diva, Jean de Florette, Manon of the Spring, La Grande Illusion, La Regle du Jeu, Les Aventures du Rabbi Jacob (I devoted an entire blog post to that one), and I could go on and on.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Isadelmar said...

These are not exactly the latest releases! Well, if you like comedies, they have a good choice on Netflix : The dinner game, The closet, l'Auberge Espagnol followed by the Russian dolls, The valet...

At 11:18 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Isa, are you a new blogger? I'd love to read your blog, but I can't find it. When I click on your name, I get your Blogger profile but no blog is listed.

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Isadelmar said...

I don't have a blog on Blogger. I subcribed because I wanted to react to your post! I do have a blog though but it is written in French and mainly family-friends orientated. I try to talk about some experiences or observations that I can make here. I try not to judge but to observe. There are things done here that are inconceivable in France. But you can't say it's right or wrong before you understand why it's done. Unfortunately,I don't often have the opportunity to debate on those thanks!


Post a Comment

<< Home