Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Perspective on "Following".

There is more following going on in the world than I care to acknowledge. And I refuse to knowingly and deliberately add to that. I avoided following. Fact. In my opinion, so did many other people who attempted to try it, or maybe we just all had conflicting definitions of the term. Regardless, I feel like I was warranted to make the choice I did, even though I "covered" it up with the so-called documenting of Phil. The reason that I hate even being asked to follow someone is because I feel like I am being followed all the time. In the dining hall. On the bus. At my apartment. And it is a very unsettling feeling that I would never want to put on some stranger for the sake of a grade. There are so many issues of this world of Big Brother that we're living in and I don't necessarily think it's fair to add paranoia to some one's life because it was an assignment. Since I know that there is someone out there can tap into my life and physically see me and what I'm doing, even at this very moment, and I will never know who they are or what they're doing gives me every single right to be paranoid, because obviously I am. And who is to say that this unknown someone isn't watching me every single day? Who's to say they don't have a master plan that I'll never know about until it smacks me in the face? You may think I'm over exaggerating or that I am just out of my mind but with the technology available
in this day and age and the mental state of so many people around the globe, we all should be scared.
I see following as stalking and stalking is scary. In my mind, stalking is associated with tragedy. Rape. Murder. Obsession. I am not that person who thinks about any of these things so why would I want to be associated with such? So much of my implicitly dodging this assignment has to do with who I am and the boundaries that I set for myself. I cannot identify with following a random somebody for a check in the box that says I did it. In order for me to even fathom the idea of literally following someone without any of their consent, there would have to be deep and damn near desperate motivation to do so. Like if I felt my husband was cheating on me and I had to have hard, factual evidence to believe it. Or if I suspected my daughter was doing fatal drugs and I wanted to know her whereabouts. And even in those life changing, life threatening circumstances, these are still people I would love and care for unconditionally. Not some random Joe on the street. The risk of that stranger's reaction is too big. We never know what people are carrying with them until something triggers it. Use my confession in class as an example.
My fear of the world today and what people are capable of is something that I have not yet learned how to overcome. But what I have learned is how to keep myself out of potential dangerous situations, which means if I don't have to follow someone, I won't. There are so many terrifying visions that my mind comes up with of possible fates for myself or my loved ones and that is where these feelings come from. That someday some crazy person could do something tragic and I will never be able to come back from that. People are capable to do so many things and that can either be completely amazing or utterly devastating, but I am not brave enough to take that "risk" or even a much lesser risk.
I am guilty of staying in my comfort zone and since the assignment was just to follow, I turned it into something I was able to do without feeling like a creep. This way of handling the task was not exclusive to me. I could have followed a familiar stranger because I have seen them enough times to gather that they are sane and won't do anything ridiculous if they realize what I'm doing. But taking back shots of a girl who lives in my building or my boyfriend in the same type of "documenting" I partook in. So I assume most of us are pretty nervous with leaving our comfort zones, whether it be the people that surround us or our campus. And maybe nobody really discovered anything significant or amazing in this assignment except the fact that most, if not all, of us are scaredy cats. There was serious potential to step outside of the box and find something a little deeper than what we had already discovered, and I know the fact that we didn't really do that is a disappointment. Maybe I just discovered that this fear of mine is greater than I could have ever imagined and I never would have if I wasn't asked to analyze it and I don't know nor am I concerned with if that is impressive to anyone.
As far as what David said about following a person who knows you're following them but it's an agreement and they aren't going to acknowledge you...well, I told Phil to act as natural as possible. But is that even realistic? We cannot control the actions of the people we follow, stranger or companion. They are going to go about their day regardless. So the question of following only boils down to another, maybe more complex question:
Who is the judge of what following is or is not? And will we all ever be able to come to a consensus about the definition?
Because if that question cannot be answered, than there is no right nor is there a wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. THAT was the Following exercise. Of course, there are HUGE issues with Following. Is it even ethical for me to assign such a thing? But if the assignment ilicited this kind of real response, this sense of fear, this awareness of invasion, then it was a huge success. These are the issues of our lives. This is the world we live in.