Save the applause and point your finger. Blame Al Gore — the person who many credit for bringing us the Internet.
Whether or not Gore is actually the so-called “Father of the Internet” is questionable, but nonetheless the Internet’s takeover is quite evident.
Today there’s no way around it. You can’t destroy it; its fiber-optic backbone is so protected it is virtually indestructible. While we’re sleeping, its zipping networks move at lightning-fast speeds, connecting billions of people in a sensitive system of wireless, fault-tolerant networks.
During the day, it churns even faster, producing continuous output as celeb-obsessed visitors maniacally click their mouses for a hot, new gossip update.
To feed our ravenous demand to consume, the sensation of the 24-hour news cycle has become the Internet’s extraordinary result. The consequences, good and bad, have been life changing.
In the celebrity world, bloggers — Perez Hilton, Just Jared and Nikki Fink to name a few — help feed this global machine, not to mention the products of paparazzi-infested sites like Hollywood TV and TMZ, courtesy of Harvey Levin and his gang of tear-down reporters.
Even before a once trivial concept like “celebrity gossip” achieved the status among the upper echelon of societal obsessions, the possibilities of the Internet were still quite endless. Through the Internet, you do just about anything: connect with friends, buy a car, find your soul mate, watch a movie (illegally, of course) weeks before it was released in theaters and do research for a paper, saving you the dreadful trip to the library.
Also because of the Internet, books have been replaced with Wikipedia, talking has turned into Tweeting and the English language is no more understandable with the parading amount of Web acronyms peeking into our everyday conversation (OMG is a popular one).
Despite the myths and disbelief, last week the world learned that celebrities and their homes are actually prey to the big, bad, scary Internet.
In an appropriate use of the blame game, the cops had it out for cyberspace in the ongoing investigations of burglarized celebrity homes in the Hollywood Hills. With a not-so-average victim list including celebrities Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom as well as countless others, police arrested five teenagers, known as the “Burglar Bunch,” on suspicion of stealing millions of dollars worth of possessions from the homes of A-listers. Jewelry, designer goods, Rachel Bilson’s jeans — anything you can imagine but can’t afford — were taken by the young intruders, all of whom were just shy of their 20th birthdays.
If you’re wondering how could this have happened, say it with me: Blame the Internet.
During further investigation, the police discovered that celebrity websites, social media and online forums served as the main planning tools, that aided the teen thieves on their robberies of the rich and famous. With a few clicks here and there, the group searched online for specific valuables they were interested in, found the addresses of celebrity homes and began to carefully monitor where celebrities were and, more importantly, when they were away.
With gossip sites uploading new content almost the minute it happens, the Burglar Bunch’s planning strategies were not only resourceful but also brilliant — in a kleptomaniac, stalker kind of way. When houses were finally left unattended, the suspects broke in through unlocked doors and windows, and, when that didn’t work, they crept through the doggy door. Besides the fact that they were mostly successful, even more shocking was that the break-ins have been going on since October 2008.
All things considered, the public is left with two glaring points:
1. Celebrities need to invest in better home security, and;
2. Information is so abundant and public via the Internet that it has actually become dangerous. With hackers and privacy invasion running rampant, burglars have also found a way to log on to enhance their methods.
Despite this, entertainment news outlets are furiously tugging and pulling at celebrities’ daily lives to put out content. With the around-the-clock news cycle, the situation is no better. For all the good of the Internet’s role in society, the visitors with questionable intentions could very well misuse this incessant stream of information.
Moreover, if sensitive information is not properly protected, the same digging-and-finding technique across the Internet could be applied to areas far more serious than celebrities, such as issues dealing with the government. Still, we can’t forget that the inability to regulate everything that goes online has allowed for unparalleled creativity and vast technological development.
So while we point the finger at a computer, maybe it’s best to just lock up the culprits.
Christopher Agutos is a junior majoring in public relations. His column, “Pop Life,” runs Tuesdays.