Taking a glimpse inside life online

In the midst of today’s booming technological era, the newest phenomenon to sweep the Internet by storm is the fast-growing webcam scene.
Hundreds of young females, and even some males, are exposing their lives to the millions of people who surf the web each day. These people range from girls as young as eleven or twelve, to women in their mid-twenties who are giving strangers a look into their private lives. For some it is simply a means to have some innocent fun, and for others owning a webcam has become a big profit-maker.
“My site is just a hobby that I play around with in my spare time. Some people ride bikes, some people collect stamps, I am a ‘cam girl,'” says 19-year-old Sheila who runs her personal web cam site. Sheila lives in San Francisco and has had her web cam site for about two years.
Like many others of its kind, Sheila’s website consists of a frequently updated journal, a small biography, galleries of pictures of her and her friends, and of course her webcam which she frequently puts on live, attracting an average audience of 2,000 people per day.
Sheila is not alone; the number of people running web cam sites is constantly multiplying. The popularity of having one of these attention-grabbing websites is immense and some of these people are very close to home. Shubbie is a 15-year-old high school student who lives in Montreal. She has had a web cam site for only six months and already she averages about 500 to 600 hits per day. Shubbie enjoys the response she gets to her website, she says “the attention is always a plus, I don’t exactly go and seek for it, but it always gives a positive feeling.”
Sheila, Shubbie, and a multitude of other “cam girls” all have something in common. The feedback they get from their websites does not always come simply in the form of a friendly e-mail from a fan; sometimes the positive response exceeds mere words and comes in physical forms, i.e., gifts.
Most of these cam girls have “wish lists” on their sites, an online list of presents they want to receive from sites such as Amazon.com which allows people to buy gifts online and have them sent to the recipient without needing their personal address. The girls’ personal information remains anonymous ,thus the connection between them and the buyer remains strictly virtual.
For Sheila, having this wish list has really paid off. She said that the value of all the gifts she has received from fans and admirers is “somewhere in the thousands!” Sheila has received such things as a digital camera, a new webcam, perfume, clothes, CDs, DVDs, books, and even a $1,200 digital camcorder.
Sheila admits that this extreme generosity is what keeps her site alive. “I’m not going to kid anyone, 99 percent [of the time] I have the site up just for the money that I make off it and the gifts I receive. Sure I enjoy the attention but I just look at that as an added bonus.”
In comparison, Shubbie has already received around $200 in gifts in the mere few months that she has had her website. Shubbie spoke about her relations with the people who buy her gifts: “I’ve talked to many of them, and they seem quite nice. A few ask to buy me something for provocative pictures in return but I wouldn’t go for that.”
The Internet has always had the reputation of being a cesspool of perverts and pedophiles. Although the cam girls previously mentioned do not get naked on their webcams, some girls do flash a little skin in order to get gifts from the men who watch and admire them. Some people might even see this transaction as being a form of online prostitution, or as taking candy from strangers, but in reality, who is exploiting who? There is nothing to define what is considered innocent fun, or what is selling oneself, and although some girls might use their sexuality to get them things, it is probably safer that they do it in the virtual world of the internet as opposed to doing it in real life.
In the cases of Sheila and Shubbie, no nudity is involved, yet their fans feel the urge to buy them gifts as a display of their appreciation for these girls who merely have a little fun on their webcams. Sheila does not feel any guilt in being showered with gifts. “I don’t see how free stuff can possibly be considered bad… although some girls get a little too involved in the whole thing,” she says.
“At first all the compliments I got were pretty flattering but now I tend to just ignore the perverts. I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the attention, its nice to get e-mails from people that seem to care about what I have to say.” said Sheila. Whether or not people come to these “cam girls” sites to actually read the content or to just get a look at their cam, the girls like the attention they get, and the fans keep on coming back for more.
This new webcam craze has expanded rapidly, opening the doors to anyone who wishes to put their life online.
Whether or not these people do it for the sheer enjoyment for the attention or because it’s a gold mine, these webcam sites are popping up all over the internet thanks to the simplicity of being able to create a website and the relatively inexpensive cost of buying a webcam.
Don’t be surprised if some day you see somebody you know on camera.


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