Anthony's Weiner

I sent a recent cover letter out to a prospective employer urging the person to read my blog, follow my Twitter, check my LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. I followed it with a meta-referential joke: " I realize that previous sentence would have been complete gibberish about 6 years ago but here we are!"

I have not heard back.

The future is strange. While waiting for the job offers to start flooding in, I am embarking on a personal project of increasing my online profile through this blog, my Twitter, a personal website, updating my LinkedIn, expanding my knowledge of Wordpress and Tumblr and all of these various items that would make 10-year-old Evan look up from his Legos in confusion. Just a few years ago, the only people who had Blackberries were lawyers and the phones looked like the cheap electronic travel version of Texas Hold'Em my grandparents have kept in their car for the last 10 years. My iPod still required me to press physical buttons to change songs. Webcams came separate from computers and cost hundreds of dollars. Cell phone cameras were around but cost like $1 per picture message. This was not the days of the telegraph or carrier pigeon or dial-up MOM HANG UP THE PHONE I'M TRYING TO CHAT WITH MY GIRLFRIEND but still.

So imagine trying to explain this Anthony Weiner thing to your past self. A congressman put a high resolution cell phone picture of his penis on a website that shares 140-character koans with millions of people at once in an attempt to send it to a woman he had met on a website designed to connect college classmates, then claimed that hackers had remotely broken into his $300 touch screen smartphone in order to post the pictures.

"Whoa," says past self. "Did this set off a huge scandal that brought down the entire telecommunications industry?"

"No!" you'd say to your past self. "This stuff happens ALL THE TIME."

Whatever happens in this increasingly sordid and stupid fiasco (and it looks like it might get worse before it gets better) the important thing to remember is that the old adage about the cover up being worse than the crime still holds true. We've come to expect a certain amount of sexual perversion from our politicians simply because the internet reveals these perversions on a daily basis. Weiner will probably, PROBABLY have to resign over this given that he lied a whole bunch and that other bad sexy things will probably leak out in the next few days. But other politicians have weathered these storms and we increasingly don't care.

The fact is we live in a representative democracy. We the people hold no legislative authority - we just elect the guys who do. If everyone had to vote every day for HS154-2B Increasing the Fiduciary Commitment for Federal Funding to Project zzzzzzzzzzz.... Well, we'd all fall asleep.

So we trust these dirtbags to do our voting for us, and for the most part we don't care what they do in their private lives until it ekes into the territory of outright hypocrisy. Weiner is fiery, and handsome, and I think we all could see him being a horndog. It's not like he claims to be a family man or is running on a family values platform. John Edwards went down because he cheated on his dying wife and lied about it and covered it up with campaign money and just looked kinda creepy. Larry Craig went down because he was living a lie and voting against every gay rights bill that crossed his desk. Eliot Spitzer went down because he transported hookers across state lines.

Weiner sent some dong shots to some people. Is that on the same level as those other guys? We'll find out when his letter of resignation gets leaked online.

Weiner is another in a long line of victims of the internet. A professor of mine loved to say that the internet is content neutral, in the sense that it is a tool with no negative or positive connotations. Anyone can use it, therefore it cannot be good or bad - it is dependent on the intentions of the user. In general, more information is better for society, better for shining a light on wrongdoing and glorifying goodness.

But a content neutral information pipe is only as good or bad as the people using it, and everything on the web is interconnected and permanent. If you want to use it for sending dong shots over a private message, you better expect them to bleed into other public arenas.

Of course, it's clear Representative Weiner had little to be embarrassed of by the junior member of the House. If I were organizing a PR strategy for Weiner, I would have set up an immediate press conference and put him up at the podium. "Mr. Weiner, is that a photo of you?"

"Damn right."

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