Today, the permanent campaign already dominates the lives of members. Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post got his hands on a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee PowerPoint presentation recommending that vulnerable incumbents allot four hours per day on the phone asking people for money — or roughly the same amount of time allotted for hearings, votes and meeting with constituents, combined. And that schedule didn’t include raising money at events. Former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) estimated that senators spend two-thirds of their time asking people for money.
Pretty sure it's this stuff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geofoam
After several days, it is still my considered opinion that with this post, The Dish became the most important media outlet in America, at least for those of us who value serious discussion of current issues.
A reader shares a harrowing series of stories and insights on corporal punishment, which at times borders on torture:
The anonymity of the post, however, raises an important question: what if it's fake? What would that mean? Does it matter if this is real or fiction? In other words, how would my reaction to this piece change if I knew:
- That the author was an "ambitious but unknown writer" who deceived The Dish into publishing a short story as if it were heartfelt personal testimony?
- That the author was an "activist for abused children" who felt it necessary to trick The Dish into publishing a composite narrative as if it were heartfelt personal testimony?
- That the author was a "parent abused by the legal system" who seeks to discredit the anti-spanking movement by planting, and later on revealing, a hoax?
- That the author was an unknown "ordinary person" who really had experienced the events she describes? (In other words, that the piece really is exactly what it seems to be.)
- That the author was a "famous person" who really had experienced the events she describes? (In other words, that the piece pretty much what it seems to be, except that the author is famous.)
Personally, it makes a great deal of difference to me. I would feel cheated if I learned that the writer's lines about struggling to put this experience into words turned out to be a literary device, not the simple confession of someone who in fact struggled to put lived experience into words. And I'm quite sure that the piece is pretty much exactly what it seems. If one wanted to discredit the anti-spanking movement with a hoax, one would never write a piece so eloquent, detailed, and grounded. I also doubt that the "ambitious but unknown writer" could pull off anything this good. That leaves the "activist for abused children" who might combine the stories of several abused-but-now-grown-children into a single searing narrative. That would still bother me, as did the revelations about Mike Daisey's monologue about the Apple factories in China.
But the piece is anonymous, and we can't check it out. So we have to trust Andrew and the team at The Dish.
In some ways, we respond this piece -- this piece of anonymous but (presumably) vetted personal testimony -- the way we respond to fiction. We can't check the facts, so we rely on the voice, the internal evidence: yes, this feels real, this is the way things are. In many other ways, however, we respond to in way utterly different than our response to fiction. It matters that there is a real person behind it, that these things actually happened in the life of one specific person (even if we don't know who that person is.) Fiction (at least literary fiction in the tradition descended from Chekov) asks us to enter into a world where the facts may or may not be true but the themes and the emotions and the struggles achieve some sort of universality. Testimony is something different, more immediate. It's part of a current debate about public events. We give it credence not for it's literary merit (though it is very well-written, it isn't--and better not be--a piece of crafted artifice) but because we presume there is a real person behind it saying: Here's what I know about this issue. This is what happened to me.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If there were a name attached to the piece, I suspect there would already be investigative reports on cable news and subpoenas to appear in front of congressional committees. Does our national conversation have room for voices like this one: passionate, eloquent, personal, and anonymous?
The problem is that if you reveal everything about yourself or it’s discoverable with a Google search, you may be diminished in your capacity for intimacy. This goes back to social penetration theory, one of the most cited and experimentally validated explanations of human connection. Developed by Irwin Altman and Dalmas A. Taylor in the 1970s, the theory holds that relationships develop through gradual and mutual self-disclosure of increasingly private and sensitive personal information.
“Building and maintaining an enduring, intimate relationship is a process of privacy regulation,” said Dr. Altman, now an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Utah. “It’s about opening and closing boundaries to maintain individual identity but also demonstrate unity with another, and if there are violations then the relationship is threatened.”
Thought of another way, information about yourself is like currency. The amount you spend on a person signifies how much you value the relationship. And that person compensates you in kind. That’s why it feels like theft when someone tells your secrets or data miners piece together your personal history — using your browsing habits, online purchases and social networks — and sell it. And it’s also why if you’re profligate with information about yourself, you have precious little to offer someone really special.
A three-year German study ending in 2012 showed that the more people disclosed about themselves on social media, the more privacy they said they desired. The lead author of the study, Sabine Trepte, a professor of media psychology at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, said the paradox indicated participants’ dissatisfaction with what they got in return for giving away so much about themselves.“It’s a bad deal because what they get is mainly informational support like maybe a tip for a restaurant or link to an article,” she said. “What they don’t get is the kind of emotional and instrumental support that leads to well-being, like a shoulder to cry on or someone who will sit by your bedside at the hospital.”And yet, she added, they continued to participate because they were afraid of being left out or judged by others as unplugged and unengaged losers. So the cycle of disclosure followed by feelings of vulnerability and general dissatisfaction continued.