The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors

Hal Niedzviecki, Author . City Lights $17.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-87286-499-3

Ubiquitous video technology and the Internet have ushered in a “peep culture” that makes us all either—or simultaneously—exhibitionists or voyeurs, according to this eye-opening study. In good participant-observer fashion, Niedzviecki (Hello, I’m Special ) dives into our mania for observing and revealing pseudo-secret personal information: he starts a blog, applies to reality television shows, does video surveillance around his house and slips a GPS tracking device into his wife’s car. He’s content to merely interview, rather than join, the middle-aged couples who post their amateur porn online. He argues instead that peep culture reprises an ancient impulse to bond through the sharing of intimacies, but worries that our digital version of village gossip and primate grooming is a weak and fraudulent foundation for community (out of his 700-odd Facebook friends and blog readers, only one showed up for his offline party). Niedzviecki’s smart mixture of reportage and reflection avoids alarmism and hype while capturing the strange power of our urge to see and be seen. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/06/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-87286-522-8
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