Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rated “F”

SEX teaches.

School began this week for many of us.

Returning to the world of syllabi and prerequisites, I surfed
the Net in between classes and found a seemingly more efficient
teacher prowling out there.

This month, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner catapulted to the top of
several Internet searches after he exposed himself as a serial sharer
of self-taken photos.

In the Age of Facebook, a fondness for one’s mug hardly
merits a reaction.

However, the congressman became infamous after he posted on the
micro-blogging site, Twitter, a “Blackberry photo of an underwear-clad
erection,” which he sent to a female college student.

After first denying the crotch shot and claiming his Twitter
account was hacked, Wiener later confessed he was behind the
cyber-exposure. He also admitted sending sexually explicit photos to
other women before and since his marriage to an aide of Hillary

On one hand, the self-destruction of another womanizing and
lying politician isn’t any loss.

And yet, Weiner’s quick descent into public burlesque (the
man himself cracked “weiner (a popular Austrian hotdog)” jokes with
reporters covering him) made me pause because, as a “prolific and
savvy user of social media,” he used the Internet to get in touch with

How many politicians personally use the online portal to not
just reach the public but also push advocacies, account for their
performance, and generally keep communication lines open and two-way?

However, Weiner, too, was undone—as he pointed out, the
jokes and puns just seem to write themselves in his case—by the
so-called “freewheeling” nature of the social media.

The “freedom” of a limitless and uncontrollable Web enabled
not just Weiner, an archetype of the economic and political elite, to
bend the rules but also Cordova cybersex operators typifying the
so-called digitally disenfranchised.

Authorities recently arrested a couple in Cordova for using
five children, aged three to 15, and their 13-year-old niece in their
home-based cybersex operations. The police confirm but have yet to act
on reports of similar cybersex activities in the town.

Decades ago, when computers and then the Internet began to
revolutionize the exchange of information in the affluent West,
critics warned about the so-called “digital divide”. The resulting gap
of online resources and opportunities will create a new class of haves
and have-nots, they warned.

Then, no one foresaw the Internet opening backdoors for
those who are pushed by need or lack of scruples to pursue whichever
ends. Asked how he could stomach pushing the children to disrobe and
pose sexually in webcam chat sessions with customers, the Cordova male
partner blamed their poverty.

Getting the old and entrenched to adopt the new, or
motivating those in need of resources and skills to learn a new
skill—these are the conundrums classically challenging classrooms.

How can students be prepared for lifelong problem-solving?
“Think out of the box” is our mantra.

Sex—primal, undeniable—seems to be quite the efficient
mentor, breaker of walls.

To recall an old copy-editing lesson, “efficient” implies
a high ratio of output to input, optimum production with least waste
of time and effort.

Yet a Tweet that causes the collapse of a marriage, a
reputation or a career seems hardly “effective”—the second “F” that
asserts it’s not always about the maximum output but also the desired
or intended one.

A home computer bringing in cybersex dollars may
efficiently return one’s investments but it ineffectively breaks the
cycle of poverty. It creates new victims and sinks the criminally
affluent into a hidden poverty of soul.

In classrooms, getting an “F” means bad news. In life, it
matters which “F”.

( 09173226131)

* First published in the June 12, 2011 issue of the "Matamata" Sunday column of Sun.Star Cebu

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