“kristen ‘kiki” ostenga was just another tween nobody living her so-called life in coral springs, florida. then she got a myspace account, & everything changed. “kiki kannibal”, her new & improved online self swiftly became an internet celebrity. but fame had come with a backlash she could never have anticipated.
kiki was hurtling into a twisted online realm, populated not just with trash-talking teens but also with stalkers, hackers, predators & profiteers. she didn’t realise the web can be a portal for people’s cruelest impulses, or that it allows those forces to assemble into a mob. she didn’t know that her life was about to become an extreme parable about connection & celebrity in the digital age - that the next four years would be fraught with danger, threats to her family & a violet death. she had yet to understand what a lot of us don’t comprehend: that our virtual lives can take their own momentum, rippling outward with real life consequences we can neither predict nor control.
while kirsten ostenga’s life was falling apart, kiki kannibal continued posting as though nothing had happened. her parents life is in tatters. they have filed for bankruptcy - a chain of financial events they said never would have happened if they hadn’t had to hastily abandon their home. danny cespedes’ mother is suing them for causing her son’s death. & after three years of living at grandma’s - where everyone is paranoid about leaving the house or letting outsiders get too close - the ostengas are chafing against each other.
kiki wishes she could do so much over. but there’s one thing she refuses to change. she can’t go offline. one reason is practical: kiki has a business to run. but the other reason is more existential: if she were to go offline, her link to the world would disappear. this is a girl with 12,000 twitter followers whose actual life is empty of real relationships. she’s trapped in suburban isolation; outside the bubble of her family, her most meaningful interactions are electronic. in real life, she’s lost.
her online life has become an endless, soul-sucking performance. & yet, seeing no other option, she continues marching onward, a child of the digital age, programmed to look only towards the future, still optimistic, somehow, about what she’ll find there.”
they seem to either attempt to re-create this stage of their life using new websites, or be stuck in a perpetual stage of mourning. having spent so many of their teenage years glued to a computer screen, eroding away social skills & not doing much else with their lives they don’t seem to quite know what to do with themselves now. i think it’s sad that, for the majority, social networking became - & has become - anything but social.