Impulsive Scandals

Source: Frank Bruni, "Protection while online only illusion," New York Times, 21 November 2012

Mr. Bruni points out that many people recently caught misbehaving through electronics, such as Anthony Weiner and David Petraeus, would never do what they did in public, yet things sent out over electronics are a form of public display. Nor do they ever really go away. "They live on, float around and can be reeled in by a lawyer with an agenda or a run-of-the-mill technician just letting his curiosity get the better of him."

"It doesn't fully sink in, because it's so dissonant with how protected and anonymous a cocoon we seem to inhabit when we're texting, emailing, or surfing the Web. A neighbor has no eyes or ears on what we're up to. Neither does the co-worker in the adjacent cubicle, the pregnant woman nursing a decaffeinated latte at the next table, or for that matter, the significant other snoozing just a few inches away. There's a thrilling sense of isolation and permission, and the dim threat of eventual discovery is no match for it."

Older forms of communication forced people to think. There were delays in responses. "The sexting, cyber-assisted hookups, and online affairs of today have nothing of the sort. They unfold at the speed of impulse ..."

"Cyberspace gives people more than an illusion of protection. It gives them nerve, freeing them to engage in a kind of explicit and assertive dialogue that two people sitting across from each other, or even talking on the phone, would in most cases be too shy to broach. It allows for false fronts, a false bravado and, with both, a false, reckless velocity."

"But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Ephesians 5:3-7).

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