I think, as a nation, we need more hobbies.
Have we really spent the past week agonizing over the photos that a seven-term New York congressman sent out on Twitter and correcting the historical facts of a woman who is not even running for president?
Don’t we have any interests or passions of our own that we can pursue? This is, well, pathetic. If Anthony Weiner lived next door and we spent this much time staring at his wiener, someone would have called the cops by now. If any other woman who was not running for president made some sort of vague historical maybe-gaffe, we would laugh politely and pass her more salsa.
But there is nothing like trying to explain the Weinergate coverage to your grandmother to put your life into perspective.
We’re entitled to laugh at Weiner. Online privacy is an oxymoron on par with Microsoft Works or Living Dead. And thinking that the Internet will make a special exception in your case and keep your privates private is hubris on par with flying towards the sun with waxen wings. But the amount of ink that has been spilled over this issue could drown a small badger.
Why do we care so much about this? There are Boring But Important Things happening all around the world, and we sit here with our pixellated pics passing remarks. Anthony Weiner may be loud, but he’s hardly important! I’m, frankly, embarrassed — not unlike Weiner.
Do we really have nothing better to do?
I have heard that some people go jogging. Some read essays by Henry Kissinger. Some knit. I tried birdwatching, but all I saw was a dicsissel, and after this week’s events it somewhat paled in comparison.
People once carved elaborate fountains from marble by hand and designed entire aqueducts. They filled coliseums with water and staged naval battles. They read ancient thinkers and carried on pages and pages of correspondence in which the word “hottttt” never appeared. We Google Anthony’s Weiner.
Where’s Oprah? Does anyone have a book club I can join? Nationally speaking, our only subscription seems to be to US Weekly.
People once did great things, founding republics and building cathedrals. People once did mediocre things, like carving Mount Rushmore. We don’t do anything at all. We are too busy worrying about the contents of strangers’ pants.
This has been a human hobby for as long as there have been humans. But back when you had to trek across several miles of mountains to reach the cave with the naughty paintings, you had to find something else to do with your time instead, like invent fire or empathy.
Before the Internet, we could keep a handle on ourselves. No one passed around blurry daguerrotypes of Abraham Lincoln’s privates. The only 140-character interactions they had were when they read books by Tolstoy.
Sure, there’s always been an appetite for scandal. And the past weeks were brimming with it — Strauss-Kahn! Schwarzenegger! Ensign!
More! we shout. We want what we want now, and we want it in spades. The Internet makes it so easy. But it’s hard to accomplish anything immortal when you are busy worrying that New Pics Might Emerge and What About That Article From Cosmo?
I’m glad our prehistoric ancestors didn’t have access to the Internet, or we would all still be sitting in caves, staring at titillating nonsense on our humming screens.
Perhaps we already are.