I CONFESS

What is it about digital media that makes us so confessional? A revelatory San Francisco Chronicle piece by Vicki Haddock last weekend entitled "The Web's dirty little secrets" covers the massively trafficked Internet sites (DailyConfession or PostSecret), that encourage public confession while, of course, maintaining the confessor's anonymity. Haddock reveals the Internet as a huge confessional chamber, replete with millions of voyeurs, all eager to eavesdrop on other people's confessions.

Images_8 In granting anonymity for sinners, the Web is becoming a refuse tip for our moral indiscretions. Are priests and pyschoanalysts being "disintermediated"? How will the Freudians and the Roman Catholics responds to the Internet's democratization of their traditional roles?

In his essay The Protestant Ethic and the Origins of Capitalism, Max Weber, the  German sociologist, argued that the Reformation transformed society into a monastery of disciplined, hard working souls all seeking moral salvation in their earthly chores. In this Weberian spirit, today's Web has transformed the world into a ubiquitous Catholic church in which we are forced to be either priests or sinners.

In 2000, Neal Gabler wrote a provocative book called Life: The movie -- How Entertainment Conquered Reality. The contemporary Internet takes Gabler's argument one surreal step further. Today, moral reality has conquered entertainment. The online world is not like a movie -- movies have become a precondition of life itself. Going onto the confessional Internet is a remix of a voyeuristic Hitchcock movie. Today, we are all players in I Confess, Vertigo and Rear Window.

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If Hitchcock was around today, would he have anything left to film?