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There is an internet phenomena that rather typifies the age in which you find yourself. This phenomenon is called LonelyGirl15. You know it isn't a very exciting name and that is the point. LonelyGirl15 was supposed to seem like any other vlogger (someone who posts video diary entries on the internet, in this case a service called YouTube. In a couple years, you will watch "Doogie Howser, MD" and this will make more sense). The existence of a LonelyGirl15 implies at least 14 before her. You are certain there are hundreds now trying to feed off the fame of the original.

LonelyGirl15 is an affable and attractive 16 year old named Bree. She doesn't give her surname or location, since she doesn't wish to be found. A precocious homeschooler, she makes videos jokingly trying to prove science wrong and lampoon music videos. Her costars are an older friend named Daniel, a purple monkey puppet named Purple Monkey, and various other stuffed animals.

Bree quickly developed a fan following. Actually, more like a cult following. Sites and forums formed from the ether to gush over her and scrutinize her life. Was there more than a friendship between Daniel and her? (Yes, a later video featured Bree confused because Daniel kissed her at a party.) Was that a picture of Aliester Crowley above her bookcase and what does that mean about our cherished naf? (Yes, that's Uncle Al and Bree has been given the honor of being the center of a "really important" ceremony in her religion, something she refuses to describe to her fans for fear of their disrespect.) Daniel even started his own vlog to explain himself and his videos became the subject of just as much analysis as an extension of Bree.

Bree was outed as a fake. It was really obvious. The editting work was great, even when there was no time or reason for Daniel to edit them for her. The lighting and her make-up were almost always beautiful, as was our supposedly unpopular star. Things were left in that could exist only as clues. You find all of this incredibly easy to say because you are internet illiterate enough that you only learned about Bree because she was outed. The whole LonelyGirl15 phenomenon was an art project by film students, though their ultimate goal is yet unclear. "Bree," really a young actress named Jessica Rose, has given interviews to newspapers and MTV VJs. You do not like the actress nearly as much as the character, whose affectations remind you in little ways of several former lovers.

But it has not ended and people are still interested, even if they do periodically bitch that they shouldn't because all of it is fake. New vlogs are posted, forwarding the plot slowly. You visit the "fan site" - actually registered before Bree posted her first vlog - almost daily to check for new videos.

Then came Cassie. There was a video where Bree and Daniel went swimming and, apropos of nothing, we see Bree asks what happened to Cassie. Bree had never before mentioned and has never since mentioned Cassie. Daniel claims to have no idea who Cassie is and would have no canonical reason to edit this into the final video. So it is either a clue or a red herring.

The first of the cassieiswatching videos appeared shortly after Bree's trip to the lake. Fans had a terrible time figuring out the location of Bree's first outdoor video - her first - but not Cassie. In a series of jump cuts informing us in a rasp, "I was here," Cassie showed us the name of this park and the way to the lake. Then she threw a bag in the lake and told us "Come get it."

The community went wild and many vloggers in the area of the lake tried. One, Cu Roi, ostensibly succeeded, producing a wet wooden box containing the judgment tarot card. Cassie changed the description of her video to "I don't play cards." The title of it remained the ominous "This is my story now." You agree with most of the fan community when they maintain this means the boxes were switched before Cu Roi's video, especially since a third party calling himself childofthecult7 (a possible reference to the character of Bree and her potential involvement in Thelema) posted video of Cu Roi (it is assumed) at the lake. You find the thought of this more than a little creepy.

The Creators of LonelyGirl15 deny any knowledge or complicity with cassieiswatching, despite a well-informed reporter saying the two series have "attenuated ties" and an almost prescient knowledge of where Bree has been. And, it should be noted, Cassie became active only once Bree was outed.

This is into what media has evolved. On one hand, it is this marvelously personal and participatory venture. The creators have yet to really capitalize off of this, so it presently seems to you that they are devoting a great deal of time and money to a story. On the other hand, how much do you really want people participating in your media? The number one movie in America as I write this features a man drinking animal semen; if they had their way, Bree would be stripped and beaten by cult members just before Daniel rides in on a white horse to spirit her away to public school, where they are voted Prom King and Queen. Additionally, people are fiercely paranoid about any and all confirmations or denials, suspecting the Creators of setting disinformation agents against the fan community.

Today, my time, Bree is undergoing this ceremony. You (and your girlfriend) honestly wish you cared a little less as to its resulting vlog entry.

Xen is sending the text of these essays back in time to his prepubescent self using advanced technology and fairy dust. That you can manage to read them as well is only a glitch in the servers.
Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings.

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