Written by David Vogel Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:09
As I write this, I have my word processor software displaying on only half of my laptop monitor. Usually I maximize the window to fit the whole screen when I’m writing because I tend to get distracted easily if I don’t.
Case in point: In just the last five minutes alone I have “liked” several random things that my Facebook friends have posted.
“Liking” is an activity on this social networking site that basically allows users to show support for something his or her friend has posted on their “wall.”
A wall, mind you, is a lot like an actual wall in your house, assuming you hang pictures on it, scribble poorly structured, random and irrelevant comments on it (“yum! just drank a latte”) and endlessly stare at it blankly waiting for more content to appear.
This is a chronic affliction for me. So when I’m doing important, focus-oriented work (which I loosely use to categorize writing this column) I usually get rid of any irrelevant material.
But not right now.
While typing on the right side of my screen, the left side is currently displaying a live video feed from somewhere in Iowa. Joining me is a host of more than 6,500 other people who are also watching this live video feed.
Are you ready for this? I’m watching a sleeping bald eagle.
I’m not kidding: It’s almost 9 p.m. and several thousand people are currently tuned in to watch a dark video feed of a bald eagle that has barely moved in the last half hour.
To be fair, it does get more entertaining. The purpose of this broadcast is to show live action events of a bald eagle sitting on her eggs. In fact, more than 4.2 million people have tuned in to date.
Somehow they got a video camera strung up into the tree without the eagle’s knowledge, which drastically alters my former image of our national bird from being intellectual and vigilant.
When I was introduced to this last week, a bunch of us guys were watching the streaming video (with more than 8,000 other viewers at that time) and we actually saw the male and female eagles exchange posts.
Because there is also a microphone, we could hear the two birds communicating with each other. The event was actually—and I’m not being flippant—quite awe-inspiring.
Since then, I’ve been checking on the eagles and their eggs, which is how I got this thought: Wouldn’t it be entertaining if we did this to people?
Now, I don’t mean reality TV. I have serious doubts about the spontaneity of those shows, not to mention the fact that they know they’re being filmed.
I’m talking about extended, secret filming of a person throughout his or her entire day with uninterrupted broadcast, much like a real-life “Truman Show.”
Now, this could be defined as voyeurism, which is probably viewed as illegal, unless of course you wanted to turn “illegal” into an “ill-eagle” wordplay joke, in which case this sentence not only lacks clarity, but also a main point, subsequently meaning that we must overlook it and conclude that secretly filming a person in private is not wrong or immoral in any way.
(Eagle update: She just tucked her head under her wing.)
Now that we’ve got that settled, I will continue with my idea for this new TV show.
The hard part, I think, would be finding a person who is actually interesting enough to keep thousands of people glued to the broadcast all day long.
It certainly wouldn’t be me. If someone were to track me with a secret camera, the most exciting part of their day would be watching me decide which magazine to take into the little columnist’s room.
So I feel fairly certain I’m safe from being spied on. But then again, this eagle is probably under the impression that she isn’t that exciting either, completely oblivious to the fact that people from around the world are currently watching her from a camera that is only a few feet away from her nest.
Maybe my idea will catch on. At some point, maybe one of us will someday feel the invisible stare of an audience of thousands. But in case you aren’t chosen for this project, I hope you’ll still have a good afternoon, good evening and good night.
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If you’re wondering—and I know you are—you can watch the eagles at ustream.tv/channel/decorah-eagles.