<- Internet Studio

Klepto Compulsion by June Choi

This semester, my introduction to internet art, my personal, evolving experience with technology, and newly- learned knowledge of artworks of previous artists have shed light on the topics of social communities, sharing online, ‘gifting’ content, and role-playing. This project, Klepto Compulsions, quite literally addresses sharing and stealing in both the real and the virtual world.

In 2014 and 2015, a handful of news outlets including Vice, Dazed (and Confused), Jezebel, Tech Insider, and Bustle published various articles on shoplifting blogger accounts and circulated Tumblr exposing this online community to the public. Online ‘lifters’ document and disperse pictures of their ‘hauls,’ the fruits of their illegal behaviors on their personal Tumblr accounts, with hopes of being put up on pedestals in the community. Many of these users state that their habits are merely for roleplay purposes as somewhat ironic security measures, and yet very vividly express themselves as a part of this cult-like community. The community itself, however, is one that is very supportive, inclusive, and protective. Users feed off of each other by circulating posts, memes, and videos, and generate new content by posting their own haul pictures, narrating lifting experiences, reblogging “goal” hauls, and liking and reblogging both old and new content.

In Krasinski’s article on roleplaying in Brody Condon’s “Level5,” she confessed that through her own roleplay of another character, she was able to discover herself, reorient her meaning in life, and break out of a shell with a new and refreshed outlook. The prospect of removing oneself from one vessel and transferring to an empty one can be juxtaposed with the creation of online profiles, the fresh and empty slate we can recreate ourselves with. Readings from The Dark Net touch on various, dangerous communities of the Web. The harm and effect of interactions online are never fully fathomed because of the seemingly bulletproof partition we are all placed behind. The shoplifting community is one of those harmful communities, enabling its users rather than supporting the moral good, claiming to help its users but more likely harming them. The topics of borrowing, sharing, and stealing of content are also relevant to shoplifting, wherein the sharing of physical stealing takes place. Meaning is generated through the sharing of stealing, which provides both affirmation of deeds, and confirmation of acknowledgement.

Upon the analysis of research on active users, current posts, news articles, and Lifterblrs themselves, I have found that the lifting community is more than just a supportive one. Bonded by obsessions, compulsions, or addictions to steal, the community as a whole justifies their own actions, reveling in their criminal success. In this project, I uncover the significance of sharing stolen items on the internet, the displacement of meaning and quality in interactions in reality, and the replacement of meaning in virtual space. I organize the constituents of the community in separate idea bubbles, in efforts to condense and explain my research of shoplifters on Tumblr. http://www.techinsider.io/there-are-crazy-shoplifting-blogs-on-tumblr-2015-8