Friday, 9 January 2015

the lone ranger

i was in a westerney mood after playing call of juarez so i decided to watch the lone ranger movie from like, last year? the year before? can't remember, but i missed it at the cinema and then promptly forgot it existed.

i didn't enjoy it all that much. i mean, the end is good, but it takes quite a while to get there with numerous problems along the way. i mentioned a while ago that if i came across anything i didn't like all that much i wasn't going to write a review at all. there's too much negativity online as it is as there's no point me adding to it. so like i did with chill i thought i'd talk a bit about me instead. the problem is i've been drinking so this may go horribly wrong.

the lone ranger is quite appropriate for what i want to talk about, in that it's about someone who wears a mask. my profile picture is not my face and my name is not paz. i hope most people would have assumed that already and this isn't a huge surprise. i have reasons.

in my last year at uni i wrote my dissertation on youtube, how it had evolved and where it could develop in the future. it had kind of a negative vibe because in all honesty i didn't get youtube back then. i was, and still am, really into films and couldn't see the attraction of the short form video diaries that youtube mostly seemed to exist for. i was interested in the portrayals of reality on youtube though, from an academic point of view - how by showing you five minutes of their life a vlogger can give you a totally false impression of who they are. then again, some videos i've seen have been entirely too honest, uncomfortably so. the thing is, i was watching so much youtube in my research that gradually i did start to get it. i went from curious observer to casual fan to obsessive fan and finally i started making my own videos.

no, i have not been entirely honest about my desire to start making youtube videos. it would actually be a return, not an initiation. i did, at one stage, have my own channel. i hadn't made many videos and they weren't great, mostly just film reviews and stuff, pretty much like i do here but on camera. i'll admit that i was overambitious, that i wanted to become zoella overnight and used to obsessively watch my view count and tweet endlessly for new subscribers, so maybe for all my analysis and research i didn't get youtube after all. but i was enjoying it. i was really happy that year. i was in love, i had a group of really great friends, i was really enjoying my studies. i had no fucking clue what i wanted to do afterwards but back then it didn't matter. i'm talking about this like it was decades ago, but it was like a year and a half, it just seems like a lifetime to me.

i started to get these weird comments on my videos. they weren't nasty or anything, just odd at first. this one person, no profile picture and a meaningless string of letters and numbers for a name, starting posting on every video i uploaded, sometimes more than once. then it became clear it was someone i knew.

they started to mention things in the comments; things about me and my friends. the comments didn't mention any names but they would be specific about physical characteristics, like 'the blond one' or whatever. this made me think it was someone watching me and my friends but then occasionally there would be a mention of something personal. not like a secret, but something you wouldn't know unless you knew me in real life. there wasn't anything malicious or threatening about the comments and a lot of them were still nonsense, but there was enough truth for them to be a bit fucking creepy, and there was clearly some agenda there. so i took a break from youtube, and then i went away.

it was a family holiday - me, my dad and my brother. we went to the states for two weeks. i'm not sure how dad could afford it but i think he was having some sort of crisis. he was insistent on us spending 'quality time' together, and that meant we couldn't take our phones or even check emails in internet cafes. he thought this would be good for us, but for me it was the worst thing that ever happened.

when i got back everything was fucked up. the random commentor (let's call him/her a troll because that's what they were and let's go with he because it seems most likely) had somehow hacked into my account. he didn't upload any videos, but he commented on others, leaving the same weird comments but in my name. he emailed my friends, sent them messages on twitter, using the same passive-aggressive tone where he wasn't being overtly malicious, just a bit weird. worse than that, he started flirting with one of my male friends, an ex boyfriend. i think this ex wanted to get back together (in fact, i know he did) because despite the odd tone he responded, although sometimes i think maybe he was hacked too. anyway, the troll sent the e-mail chain on to my boyfriend and that was that.

like i said, everything was fucked up. you think things like this will be easy to sort out, but even the friends who claimed to believe me never really acted the same way around me. my boyfriend didn't believe me at all, and that kind of hinted that maybe it wasn't meant to be anyway, although sometimes i wondered if there were other emails that he'd maybe deleted from my sent items, things that were worse than the ones i'd read.

the timing was fucked anyway. uni was over, most of my friends were moving away including my now ex boyfriend. i couldn't face moving back home and i loved brighton so much i decided to get a job and stick around.

i deleted the videos. i deleted all my tweets, set up a new e-mail account, deleted everything that the troll had touched. then i started again, with a stolen profile picture and a name i like more than my own.

that's why i haven't posted any videos yet. i don't really want him to find me again. i'm sure he's gone away or just doesn't care, the damage is done now. but it still feels too soon.

i'm not sure even posting this was a good idea. i don't know, i've had too much to drink and i'm in on my own on a friday night. i watched a movie i didn't like and i have no one to complain to except people on the internet, and i'm still a little bit scared of people on the internet.

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