so this has been on my mind recently and i thought i would put it out there for those who still occasionally wander through the fish. the jan-ai scholarship fund has been going strong now for more than a year and we are constantly regaled with tales of how much the web-community (blog-community, photo-community, myspace-community, etc) has shown an outpouring of love for the jenn see. so much so that there is a reporter in philly who is doing an article on jenn and how her death affected her "web friends".
it got me thinking.
she kept saying that jenn's passing affected people who had "never met her" or "didn't know her". this is a misconception. those of you who interacted with jenn through the fish or through comments on your blog or through any of the myriad of places that she left large footprints of insight, wit and veracity, you met her in cyberspace and knew her well, somewhat or just in passing. just like anywhere else. jenn was jenn. she put everything she was in her posts and rarely held anything back when carrying on conversations, even if there were the delayed conversations of commentary or email. where i have cultivated mystery by refusing pictures or through my handle "mysfit", and others create whole new personalities for themselves, jenn see ('see' being the verbal pronunciation of her last initial) never went in for that kind of thing. she was her writings, her photography, her posts and they were her. your interactions were as real as you made them because hers were as real as she could make them.
we live in a world that is suffering from separation anxiety and doesn't even know it. where i don't know my neighbors, can stay in my house connecting to you in your house and never see your face, never know your name and never know you. yet you are the christophers of cyberspace. you can change your name, your avatar-face, your personality from site to site, from post to post and it is only what you send out that i can read. but how much you can really hide in this virtual world is intertwined with how much i refuse to see. how different is this than in the mundane, non-digital world?
things have certainly changed over the last 15 years but the internet got a bad wrap in its infant stage with all those sexual predators and became a perceived tool of deception. in a lot of ways this perception hasn't changed. as william gibson said in a recent interview, current technology makes it both harder and easier to keep secrets. (see article: here
) identity theft, credit card fraud, email monitoring, ip tracking. the perceived stability of the internet is only a imagined security blanket and we all know it. data can be lost, corrupted, erased.
in this world, is it any more surprising that people are astounded by the love and grief you, my fair fishies, have shown for the passing of a friend. perhaps our rioting call should be "a virtual friend but not a virtual friendship! not a virtual love!" jenn see was ever a being so full of creative and connective energy that her close friends (some she met on the web) couldn't help but feed on it and energy like that cannot be diminished except through nonuse. so when she felt trapped in a location where she wasn't comfortable, she spread her energy out into the blog community, into the internet, reminding us that this medium is not about information or about stealing from each other but about communication. she put her writing on the wall and though it is not forever, it is a really big fucking wall. over the miles and the years, you who connected to jenn see were reminded that there are other people sitting behind their computers and many of them, regardless of age, space or experience, are just like you.