Virtual Realities

Weiners and Losers

Anthony Weiner is, in the immortal words of one Oscar-winning actress, so five minutes ago.  Almost a decade and a half before the instrument of Weiner’s downfall launched on July 15, 2006, that line from one of the most perceptive films of the 1990’s presciently captured the essence of modern social media.  Anyone who follows more than a handful of people on Twitter knows what I am talking about: In the space of five minutes, hundreds of tweets populate your Twitter timeline, and unless you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, any tweet that is more than five minutes old is ancient history—unless, of course, it gets retweeted, in which case it may have a lifespan of 15 minutes or even half an hour.

Of course, if you’re a member of Congress who accidentally tweets a risqué picture of yourself for the whole World Wide Web to see, you will most likely find yourself frozen in time, living that five minutes over and over again for the rest of your public life.  That is one of the many paradoxes of social media such as Twitter and Facebook: Those moments you would most like to share with others are quickly lost in the chaos of the virtual madding crowd, while your mistakes and lapses in judgment and even, yes, sins (if such a concept can be admitted in our post-Christian world) remain forever, or at least until the Chinese bring Google to its knees (as they have been trying to do for a few years now) or Google...

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