According to the Merriam Webster dictionary the word transparent is an adjective that means able to be seen through, easy to notice or understand, and honest and open. Transparency could be described as a behavior; it is performing the act of being transparent. In the novel the Circle, Mae goes transparent as a decision that is not entirely all her own. I could not stop thinking about how cool it would be to be in Mae’s shoes and experience going transparent. Unfortunately I did not have the type of technology that was readily available to Circle employees so I had to take a different route. I knew immediately that I wanted my videos to be live-streamed so my viewers could see what I was doing at that very moment. I felt as though prerecorded videos would take away from the essence of transparency. Would I be tempted to edit these videos, and what if I decide I do not want them up entirely, those are issues that I wanted to avoid.
The first step was to make sure I had the right device that is capable of live streaming. I decided to use my iPhone, iPad, and my iPod which are all apple products and are all capable of having front and rear facing cameras. I did some research online to find the best application to do my live streaming, this led me to Ustream application available for both android and apple products. I made the mistake of not testing it out before committing to the application; I Just relied on the reviews that other customers have written about the product. With the Ustream app you can record your live stream whenever you want. There is a chat box that is right beside your video where the viewers would be able to communicate with the individual who is doing the live streaming and the other viewers. My live-streaming would also be supplemented with YouTube videos. These videos would be of me doing my actives at a much earlier or later time that I believed would be an inconvenient time for my viewers. When it was time to do the actual filming, I went into the Ustream app to start a video. The video quality was horrible. There was no way that people tuning in would be able to see me and follow along with the video. It hurt my eyes every time I tried looking at the screen. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to film via live streaming but at least I had the YouTube option.
I started a Facebook group called Going Transparent where my viewers would be able to see my YouTube videos and get notifications about when I will be video streaming. Also I thought it would be a great place for the viewers to be able to comment on my videos with questions, comments, or concerns. When deciding on who I would add to the group I made an announcement on my personal Facebook page asking who would be interested in following me in an experiment of going transparent. I only got back 5 responses, this did not bother me since I normally only have a few people who comment and like my posts on my Facebook page and I didn’t really expect to see anyone different show interest. There are a total of eleven people, including myself who is a part of my Facebook group Going Transparent. I knew that if I wanted to increase my chances of viewer participation then I would have to be lees selective about who I added to the Facebook group. However it is not as easy as it sounds for me. The challenges that I faced allowed me to see the kind of person I really am.
When it was time for me to start filming I would find myself going to a quiet room and pointing the camera to my face. My family and friends would get quiet whenever I would take out the camera and they weren’t too happy about me wanting to film our conversations or their faces. The only person who did not have any problem with being recorded was my fiancé. To my surprise he was really excited about it and wanted to be in the camera as much as possible. I on the other hand was not comfortable filming with him in the room and capturing our interactions on camera because I thought that our relationship is private and under no circumstance should our at home life be a spectacle for strangers. Outside of the home was different; I didn’t mind getting us on camera once we were outside and in public. I became very self-conscious once the cameras were on. While filming all I thought about was what people were going to say when they see it. My main concern was how people were going to perceive me. I didn’t want to be judged and I couldn’t even stomach the thought of people saying rude comments to me. Even though these things were not likely to occur, because I knew all of my viewers personally, this did not stop my mind from thinking the absolute worst. As a result of my paranoia my phone was filled with videos that were not being uploaded. They would just sit in my phone and I would start to upload them feeling confident and excited but then this uneasy feeling would come over me and I would not publish the video.
I felt less apprehensive to film when I was outside in an area that wasn’t heavily populated, or where people were constantly moving. The only problems that I faced were trying not to get people’s faces directly in the camera and wondering what people are thinking about me talking into a camera. When I arrived at the bus stop I would put the camera away if other people were there. I did not want to bring attention to myself and be the object of stranger’s conversation. While in the train station I kept the camera front facing and when I was in a close proximity to strangers I lowered the camera to my chest so that I didn’t get their faces in the camera. The last thing I wanted was for someone to ask me if I was photographing them without their permission. I am not fond of confrontation and I try to avoid it at all costs.
The downside to using your everyday devices to record yourself is battery life. I usually try to keep my phone battery full so I can be able to film whenever I pleased. The times when I needed the camera the most my phone was dead. I attended the carnival that the university held on the great lawn and my iPhone had died and my iPad was on 4% battery life. I was only able to take a quick video showing where I was. I was upset that I wasn’t able to film because I thought that this was something that my viewers would appreciate seeing. Then I thought about how rigid I would be if I was recording my time at the carnival. I doubt that I would have as much fun as I did, and I’m sure my friend who I came to the carnival would not have appreciated it if I had the camera recording us. There was another occasion that I was looking forward to filming but could because of a dead iPhone. This was the day of the Carib fest, a concert held by the Caribbean Society group in St. Johns. That was also the day that the F train derailed and caused a fire. I was stranded in an area of queens that I was not familiar with and there were not busses that was going in the direction school. To make matters worse no taxis were willing to go that far. I spent almost two hours trying to hail a taxi and ended up missing my classes. I did share a taxi with a woman who was going to Jamaica Center and wanted to split the cost of a cab with me. We ended up exchanging phone numbers and have since made plans to hang out once the school semester is over. I don’t think I would have made her acquaintance if I had my iPhone out capturing everything that was happening. I am sure that other people may not have felt the same way. They may believe that filming something is a great conversation starter and you are sure to get attention if you have your camera out filming. I agree with those people but I am not one who likes attention.
Why would I volunteer to go transparent if I knew that I did not like to bring attention to myself? The simple answer is that i never knew this about myself until I started filming. While reading The Circle I thought that it was interesting how Mae went from a nobody to one of the most famous women on the internet. Unlike Mae I did not possess the spirit one needs when going transparent. I did not care much about my privacy and i even considered myself to be an open book, anything you wanted to know about me just ask and I will be more than happy to share it with you, this is certainly not the case anymore. I consider myself to be selective about what I put out into the open. I like the idea of speaking on a topic or making a how to video and uploading them onto my YouTube channel.
I did not get the viewer participation that I hoped for when I first thought about going transparent. I am aware that my lack of group members is the cause of the problem. As much as I wanted to raise the chances of getting more participation by adding more members to the group I could not bring myself to do it. I wanted the Facebook group to be a controlled environment and didn’t want someone who was up to no good getting their hands on my videos and misusing them. My imagination went wild with these thoughts and there was no stopping them. I had gotten so overwhelmed with transparency that I abandoned the group for as long as I could. I wanted to go back to not having to look for the perfect moment to take out my camera and start filming. I wanted to go back to my carefree ways of doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to do it.
Does this mean you I’m putting an end to transparency for good? No. I am all for transparency so long as it is on my terms, selective transparency. It may not be true to the real essence of transparency but since I am in no position of power and I do not an elected official, I don’t have to ever be completely transparent for anyone. I want to continue filming, make video blogs “vlogs” upload them to my YouTube channel.
Links to videos not posted on Facebook Group