Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:August 17th, 2010 20:41 EST
Journalist Hypocrisy and the News

Journalist Hypocrisy and the News

By Meghan Gargan

I am by nature, a curious person. I will sit and google people, events, and news for hours. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I love to learn. Raised by a family of teachers (all on my mom`s side), education and knowledge were always important aspects of my life.

I`m positive that this need-to-know attitude is what led me into journalism. Finding a story, digging and investigating, and reporting my results has always fascinated me. It`s like playing Nancy Drew, and who doesn`t love a good mystery?

People are intrinsically interesting, even the more boring and mundane person has a dirty little secret or untold story. I enjoy finding those little tidbits and exploring them.

Yet, I find myself a hypocrite. While I continuously search and learn about other people, I myself, hate to be googled. Granted, if you do google me some of my stories from this website will come up, along with some other stories that I`ve been interviewed in by other journalists. I am not as invisible as I thought, or as I wish.

Being a journalist I realize I am going to be in some kind of spotlight. I am, in my own way, a public figure. Now I`m not saying I`m Tom Cruise or Kirsten Dunst, but I am out there for people to see, to watch, and to wonder.

And I hate it.

I am an intensely private person. Any kind of online participation through myspace or facebook has little to no information, or is blocked so that it can only be viewed by those I deem worthy, and those I trust.

We are in an internet information society where search engines and online dating has taken precedent over actual conversation and real people. I once talked to a sex-columnist for an article I was writing and she herself had taken part in online dating and internet adventures. Talking with her made it seem easy and fun, and nothing to worry about, only to turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper, or switch the dial on the radio to find out that the internet is not as safe as we suppose.

My generation has grown up with the internet. I remember being 13 years old and logging on AIM. I remember surfing through chat rooms because I didn`t know what they were, and I remember googling certain subjects that I was too shy to ask my mother about. It`s not a secret that today`s society learns everything they need to know about the world, sex, politics, and about each other from online.

Add to all of this my some-what-paranoid nature. I am so sure that some stalker or freak is going to find me and track me down. There are millions of people on the web, and millions of people chatting and meeting up "what are the chances that someone is going to target me? 

I have no idea. And that, is what is scary.

Recently I decided to do a story on people who advertise for sex online, mostly through craigslist. I looked up tons of posts for women seeking men to meet up for sex. Some of them were incredibly kinky and some were just about experimentation. I sent out an email explaining my pitch, both hoping and praying that someone and no one would respond.

When I told others about the emails I had sent, some freaked out. They pointed out that I didn`t know if these people were legit, I didn`t know if they were crazy or normal, I didn`t know anything about them, but now they have my email address, my name, and where I go to school.

I justified my deed by saying most of them that I had emailed were women who either had boyfriends or were married and were looking for sexual satisfaction outside of their relationship, yet the comments have stuck with me.

Do I really think these people are going to track me down?

Probably not.

Was it worth it?

I don`t know.

Am I worried?

You bet.

But the stories I am interested in covering are controversial and sometimes risky. I could play it safe and report on things that have already been written about or keep inside the lines, but I feel that I would be lying to myself.

As an internet society, shouldn`t we be able to use this resource in a careful and real " way? Shouldn`t I be able to send off emails without worrying about someone coming after me? I guess only in an ideal world.

I haven`t gotten any responses from the women I sent emails too, and who knows if I will, or if they`ll even think to google me. I`ll be paranoid for a couple days, and then probably relax and let my guard down. Don`t we all? I think the point I`m trying to make here is, we can`t let our guard down. By using the internet and making ourselves available to the world wide web, one can never be too careful. I don`t have body guards like Tom Cruise and Kirsten Dunst, and the thing to remember is that while being Nancy Drew is cool, she is also fictional "and I, I am not.