about
Twitter Bio
blogger and j-school prof
Ask
@jeffjarvis anything


Preview Question

Answers from @jeffjarvis


@chanders asked@jeffjarvis
over 3 years ago
10 following this question
@jeffjarvis
I am writing an entire book on the larger topic, as Jay said, and so I'm not prepared to -- not ready to -- summarize my thinking entirely in graf or two; that Jell-O is yet cooling. Also, I'm behind on my writing and need to get back to it today and so this is playing hooky.

(On that note: Though I wish Kommons much luck, that's one issue I have with the format: This is one more forum in which I now have yet more trouble prioritizing and responding to unsolicited incoming -- that, by the way, is one reason I dread Facebook messaging. And just as Dave Winer says when he responds to requests for interviews -- I learned this from him -- I tend to write about the topics I want to write about when I want to do so; that is the great gift of the blog. So I'm not necessarily ready, as in this case, to write on the topic @chanders chose for me. I don't accept many freelance writing and speaking assignments these days if I have something else to which I've assigned a higher priority. Having said that....)

The rhetoric used in some quarters against the TSA got so overheated as to go far beyond Godwin's law and I finally took to calling people on it. In Twitter, I saw people referencing the Gestapo: Chalk that up for Godwin. And I saw people referring to pat-downs as "rape," which I found to be an offensive, not to mention idiotic and misogynistic trivialization of a horrid crime too many women suffer. Sorry, Jay, but I found much of that discussion childish and inane and said so.

I worried about the response to the TSA employees who are trying to protect us and whose jobs became far less enviable when they were given this latest task. Yes, there were fools and agents who went too far but as a whole I respect what they do and said so.

I also found the kneejerk media uptake of this alleged meme to be worth ridiculing as the oft-predicted protest and snarl-up simply didn't happen yesterday. The sanity and civility of the American people as a people impressed me once again. And I was happy, in the end, to see media report that (though without saying, "oops, there we went again, overhyping something before it happens..."). But I'm sure media are quite happy today getting back to what they do best: repeating the same old stupid Black Friday stories. Ah, the comfort of the familiar.

Jay's right to point to my 9/11 experience as formative. I felt the heat and the blast of the second jet hitting the second tower; I breathed in and swallowed the debris; I saw death that day. So my priorities are clearly on the side of erring for security. To those who say that we don't know whether the scanners and patdowns are increasing security, they're right: You can't prove a negative. Can't prove the other way, either.

I think all this American hoo-ha about the fact that we each have genitals is just about as silly and juvenile as 244,000 Germans pixelating the public facades of their homes photographed from public places, desecrating their digital landscape and, worse, diminishing the public share and the public's rights to it. In a discussion such as this, we need to ask where's the harm so we can balance that harm against the risks. I see more risk in the chance that the next underwear bomber will succeed than in my underwear being glancingly touched through pants and rubber gloves.

I disagree with Jay about the idea that there is a sharp, clear, and common line between the public and the private or even the private and the personal. That is not to say by any means that we've reached <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-g-baker/2010-the-end-of-pricacy_b_786397.html">"the end of privacy"</a>. I dare say that the current obsession on the topic could well lead to more attention to and protection of privacy than ever.

My fear is that we neglect to protect the benefits of publicness, of the connections -- in the open -- that the internet enables and enhances. I found benefit in talking about my surgery and I hope others found benefit in it, as they told me they did. Having prostate cancer does tend to desensitize one about one's penis (read into that all you wish). I don't chortle at the word but I did find calling one's penis "junk" to be juvenile.

In the end, I think we in a society must all ask when we can benefit others by sharing and when we may harm others by not; that is fuzzy other side of Jay's equation of private and public. I say that the more men who talk about their prostates, the more who may be saved. I say that being willing to endure a 30-second patdown on the hope -- even if it is just a hope -- that a murderer may be thwarted is an act of social generosity.
over 3 years ago