Sinners in cyberspace
Go on, spill your guts. Admit ... that you have something to admit. Maybe you're fat, dull, depressed or some lousy combination of all these curses. Log on and unburden your conscience at the new breed of Oprahesque websites, equipped with quirky hard-to-transcribe names such as PostSecret.com, NotProud.com, GroupHug.us, DailyConfession.com and e-admit.com. At these places, holding back is taboo. Indeed, some of the confessions showcased are unbearably frank, suggesting the hand-wringers are vying to see who can disclose the goriest tale. Just look at these heinous disclosures culled from the swarm of speak-your-heart websites.
Unrepentant and entertaining, Sinner A says: 'I work in a tattoo parlour whilst working my way through college. It's near a seedy area of town and we have many drunken frat boys and drug users coming in. Often they cuss me out, try and feel me up, make sexist and racist comments or speak e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y slowly - assuming I'm stupid because I'm Asian. Then they have the nerve to ask me how to get a certain word done in Japanese ... I confess, it gives me supreme satisfaction from seeing these racist idiots going around with tattoos in Japanese saying, 'flower power', 's*** eater' and 'tiny d**k' proudly displayed on their muscular arms.'
Sinner B has no plans to get back at anybody - except maybe herself. In a masochistically frank expose of her inner feelings, she writes: 'When I read all the nasty mean things people say about 'fat chicks' or 'ugly chicks' it makes me really sad because I fall into both categories and can't afford plastic surgery and everyday is a struggle to diet ...' You hope Sinner B does not wind up paying a visit to a suicide chatroom. Sinner C looks more likely to head for a homicide chatroom, if such a thing exists. Either way, he gets ugly and explicit, banging on in more detail than I've allowed: 'I hate my wife so much I sometimes imagine an entire life without her, or what my life would have been like if I'd never met her. I've been flirting with several female co-workers, and when I have sex with my wife I imagine I'm doing them instead ...'
Still other no-goods own up to sunbathing nude in public, hating everyone, being hung up over a significant other who vanished a decade ago and generally being callous, manipulative and/or messed up to a spectacular degree. You hope they get some kind of kick from their disclosures. Maybe confessing is cathartic (purification though pain). Or maybe it gives an exhibitionistic shiver of pleasure at the thought of reaching a potentially limitless voyeur army. Whatever the true reason, soul searchers everywhere are indebted to the libertarian expanses of cyberspace, which mean they no longer need bottle up or share neuroses with friends and shrinks.
I, personally, have nothing to disclose here or anywhere online. Sure, there was the time I unleashed a virus that almost brought the stock exchange to its knees. And my hard drive has the odd MP3 file of dubious legality along with some movie clips in which sex is not exactly portrayed romantically. And right now I'm fantasising about blowing away a dog whose wail distracts me from my keyboard labour. But that's between you, me and my electronic cookies. Keep it secret because your hard drive and head space aren't free from contamination either, I bet. Come clean - or dirty.