A British teenager created a series of computer-mediated stories and personae in order to convince another teenager to muder him. Promised cash, a meeting with Tony Blair, and a career in British intelligence, the older boy stabbed the instigator dangerously, but not fatally. The story spun by the would-be murderee included several MI5 agents, stalkers, surveillance schemes, dying friends, and cybersex.
Back to the cyberspatial Gothic: note the accounts of this story, emphasizing the role of the internet, especially chat rooms and cybersex. "Web friend conned into murder bid," says the BBC. "Virtual world," notes the Telegraph.
Little US coverage so far. Perhaps it doesn't hit the right memes - kids too old for the American emphasis on pedophilia in internet panic stories?
Note as well the quiet acceptance of surveillance in public spaces. Each story turns on the mystery of where the stabbing takes place, just out of the reach of cameras. Readers are placed in the surveillant position, scopophilically wanting to learn what happened in the hidden (private) space.
From the Telegraph, a sample of some of the discursive and multitasking flair:
Mark [was] oblivious to the fact that each contact was an invention.
Rather than chatting to a group of friends, he was actually in conversation with a single internet "buddy", John. The latter achieved the remarkable feat of switching seamlessly from character to character, adopting each one's literary foibles and relating the events of a fictitious life.
The multiple discources seem to be drawn from urban legend, spy thrillers, and internet culture.
Police assembled their account from files obtained from the would-be murderee's computer, an act of intense textual analysis and recreation.