Friday, June 22, 2012

Blackmail Yourself (or let us do it for you)

I saw on MediaBistro yesterday that a new free service called Aherk is offering to blackmail you into finishing your novel, or painting your dining room, or whatever. All you do is state your goal and its deadline and send them a compromising picture of yourself. If your Facebook friends (you see, Facebook has to be involved here) all agree that you have achieved your goal by the deadline, then Aherk won't post the picture on Facebook. Otherwise your reputation is toast.

The concept raises a few questions.

First: Free? What are you getting out of it, Aherk? Oh, yes, my blackmail pictures. After I achieve my goal, perhaps I'll get monthly emails from you demanding fifty dollars.

Second: What sort of pictures do we consider compromising in 2012? In my case, something would have to be Photoshopped. Me wearing Republican campaign materials on my head. Me in bed with the paperboy. (Actually we have no paperboy.) Me using the wrong fork. In point of fact, I haven't done anything in years that couldn't be shown on Facebook with perfect aplomb. At least, I don't think I have. It's true that my memory isn't what it was.

Third: What happens if your Facebook friends all want to see your embarrassing picture so badly that they are willing to lie to Aherk about your achievements? We all know about Facebook friends. Some of them are actual friends, but some of them are just these people who once asked you to friend them, and when you couldn't remember whether you'd ever met them or who they were you said, fine, we're friends. Maybe yes, maybe no.

And finally: What sort of moron gives blackmail pictures to perfect strangers? What sort of society are we living in where people would even expect each other to do that? Who are all these vultures hanging around waiting for me to embarrass myself? Why is the twenty-first century such a total cesspit? (snort… drool…)